SAN FRANCISCO — In the aftermath of Super Bowl 50, Peyton Manning stressed time is on his side. That’s quite a contrast from Manning’s counterpart, who clearly doesn’t enjoy the feeling of being rushed.
Manning was still fielding questions about his future on Monday, well after the last strand of confetti was cleaned up at Levi’s Stadium following Denver’s 24-10 upset victory against Carolina and league MVP Cam Newton.
The only five-time MVP in NFL annals was merely a role player Sunday as the 39-year-old Manning broke a tie with Brett Favre to become the first NFL quarterback with 200 career wins. Although his passing totals were modest (141 yards, zero touchdowns), Manning was an inspirational leader while evening his Super Bowl record at 2-2.
But will he go for more wins, or retire?
“When I think about those 200 wins, I think about all the coaches and teammates I’ve played with,” Manning said on Monday. “One of those coaches, Tony Dungy, who is going to the Hall of Fame, called me last week and said, ‘I need to talk to you — I’m still your coach. Do not make an emotional decision right after the game. Take some time, get away with your family and reflect on what’s occurred.’
“I’m going to follow my old coach’s advice. At the appropriate time, I’ll make a decision. Whatever the decision is, I have a real peace about it.”
There’s no peace for Newton after Super Bowl MVP Von Miller and his cohorts on the NFL’s top-rated defense danced all over Carolina’s overmatched offensive line.
Newton was sacked six times and hit on 13 other occasions as Miller and DeMarcus Ware took turns coming off the edge with fury and purpose.
During Carolina’s 17-1 jaunt to an NFC title, Newton set an exuberant tone, showing off a variety of dance moves as the Panthers led the league in scoring offense. But a battered Newton was in no mood to dab — or speak — after posting a passer rating of 55.4.
“No dancing, Cam had danced enough,” said ex-Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib, now a fixture in Denver’s aggressive secondary. “We knew he wasn’t going to come out and tear us up.”
While Manning plans to take his time, the Broncos must move quickly to secure their future.
Miller and 25-year-old quarterback Brock Osweiler, who went 5-2 filling in for an injured Manning this season, are potential free agents.
Even if Manning wants to return, he might have to switch teams.
“I think Peyton’s done in Denver,” said his father, Archie. “He may be done everywhere. I don’t know that, but that’s my guess.”
In his gunslinger days, Manning was known as “The Sheriff.” But after Denver became the first team to win a Super Bowl with as few as 194 total yards, Manning looks more like “The Shepherd.”
Neck and foot injuries have taken their toll and the Broncos now win with a suffocating defense skillfully run by coordinator Wade Phillips.
“This is the rawest defense ever,” said Denver tight end Owen Daniels, who opened Sunday’s game with an 18-yard reception. “To do that to a guy (Newton) who is changing the game ... unbelievable. On defense, you have to put them up there with the best ever.”
After ravaging Newton and New England’s Tom Brady in successive games, Denver’s defense has replaced Seattle’s as the game’s dominant unit.
“Our ‘D’ is just tremendous,” said running back C.J. Anderson, who was responsible for all 90 of Denver’s rushing yards against the Panthers. “I don’t know where they rank compared to Tampa Bay in 2002, the 2000 Ravens or the ’85 Bears, but they’re darned good.’’
Newton’s dejection was apparent in his postgame sulk, but he crossed the field to shake Manning’s hand and offer congratulations.
“I told him he had a great season and just what a great future he has ahead of him,” Manning said. “He’ll be back in that game, I can promise you. I’ve been on that side of it and I know it’s not an easy pill to swallow, but he was very nice to me and I really appreciated that.”