It’s tough to recall a Super Bowl with two quarterbacks as different as Peyton Manning and Cam Newton.
Manning is 39; Newton is 26. Manning is a five-time MVP; Newton is a soon-to-be first-timer. Manning is perhaps the most prolific passer in NFL history; Newton is perhaps the most imposing runner. Manning has as many touchdowns this season (11) as Newton has interceptions (11). Manning was benched this year; Newton accounted for 50 touchdowns – 38 threw the air.
So yeah, the difference are many.
As for the similarities, well, they’re both great leaders. Manning, it seems, has always been that way. Newton became one this season.
“You see some of the throws (Newton is) making, especially in the championship game, (it’s impressive),” Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “When you reach the level that he’s playing at right now, things are going all the right ways for you. He’s such a physical guy at that position. When they get down inside the 10-yard line, you got an extra blocker because he’s the one going over the top. It’ll be interesting. I’m looking forward to the game.”
Manning, meanwhile, may be a shell of his former self, but he’s still finding ways to get the job done. Brandon Tierney likened Manning to a veteran pitcher who is throwing 85-mile-per-hour fastballs. If he paints the corners, things are fine; if he doesn’t paint the corners, he’s in trouble.
Marino, who was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1979, appreciated the baseball analogy.
So, if he has to, does Manning still have what it takes to throw for 300+ yards and a couple of touchdowns in what could be his final game?
“I think that if you look at what their game plan is going to be, they really don’t want him to throw that much and throw for 300 yards,” Marino said. “(They want him to) control the game, not make mistakes and let the defense play well. When you have your opportunities, take advantage of it. I think they did that in the AFC Championship. The defense played really well.”
Indeed, the defense pressured Tom Brady all day, sacking him four times and forcing two interceptions. Manning, on the other hand, threw two early touchdown passes to Owen Daniels and let the defense take it from there.
Now, Manning has a shot to retire with two Super Bowl rings and a winning record in the postseason.
“You got to give him credit,” Marino said. “All the things he’s been through, to be able to come back (form) the injuries and all the things over the last few years and now to have a chance to win a Super Bowl – that’s awesome to me. I’m really happy for him. Hopefully he’s in a position at the end of that game where he can take them on a drive and win.”