By Charean Williams
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (MCT)
JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Peyton Manning threw for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns, setting NFL records. Those statistics perfectly describe Manning’s style.
So does his total of minus-31 rushing yards on 32 carries this season.
It was the fewest rushing yards for any NFL player in 40 years, with 307 players gaining more rushing yards this season.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson gained almost as many rushing yards this season (539) as the Denver Broncos quarterback has in his 16-year career (697).
The most running Manning will do Sunday is when he trots out for pregame introductions. Wilson, on the other hand, is a threat to break Steve McNair’s Super Bowl record for rushing yards by a quarterback (64).
For the second Super Bowl in a row, the starting quarterbacks took different routes to get here.
“You have the mobile quarterback with Russell Wilson, and then Peyton as the pure, drop-back, shotgun quarterback,” said Jimmy Johnson, the former Dallas Cowboys coach turned Fox broadcaster. “I don’t know if we’d say ’old school/new school,’ because people are still looking for the Peyton Manning-type quarterback, but you’ve got so many running quarterbacks coming out of college now, and you are incorporating some of the read option, etc. into the game and the play action. It’s a different game.”
Manning, 37, was the No. 1 overall draft choice in 1998. He has lived up to his can’t-miss billing by throwing for 64,964 yards and 491 touchdowns in his 16-year career. A second Super Bowl ring could give him the mythical title of greatest ever.
Wilson, 25, was a third-round draft pick in 2012. He has overcome concerns about his height (5-10 5/8) by going 24-8 in his two seasons with 6,475 passing yards and 52 passing touchdowns as well as 1,028 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns.
“It’s a young gun versus really NFL royalty,” said Troy Aikman, the Cowboys quarterback turned Fox analyst. “On the one hand, you’ve got a seasoned veteran who has been here and has been on the biggest stage before and has been on stage since he left high school and probably even going back before that, because of his father. Then you have Russell, who is mature beyond his years. He’s a great ambassador for the game, as is Peyton. I just don’t feel like the stage is going to be too big for him. I expect him to be able to come in and play well. It should be an exciting game.”
Manning and Wilson seemingly have little in common. But Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase sees comparable intelligence. Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell talks about their preparation. Broncos coach John Fox loves their leadership.
“The thing I try to work on to be more like him is the attention to detail,” Wilson said. “I definitely believe that is one of my strengths. Obviously, Peyton Manning is known for his leadership, known for all those amazing things he does at the line of scrimmage, with his checks and all of that, so I’m working to get there. But I think that competitive edge is very, very similar too, where we’re very competitive. We want to lead our football team. We want to put our football team in a great position every time we step on the field.”
NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner, who quarterbacked the St. Louis Rams and the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowls, argues Wilson and Manning are the same kind of different.
“Yeah, it looks a whole lot different when you watch them play,” Warner said. “The bottom line is being able to react in pressure situations, be able to make the big play, whatever that looks like. Those moments are what I look at when I watch an overall game and go, ’OK, did they change the complexion of the game?’ Both of these guys do it quite often for their teams. They just do it in different ways.”