Peyton Manning Parallels Dan Marino

The Penn

Peyton Manning seems poised to oust Dan Marino as the greatest quarterback to never win the big game.

Every January, it seems, Manning shuts down and his Colts suffer yet another embarrassing playoff loss.

Like clockwork, he rewrites the record books during the regular season, shattering old records and then breaking his own, only to be in the record book in the postseason for all the wrong reasons.

Sound familiar? It should because that line defines Miami Dolphins long-time quarterback Dan Marinos career.

Marino was arguably the greatest quarterback to ever throw the pigskin. At the time of his retirement following the 1999 season, he held 17 NFL passing records and tied for four others.

Similarly, he owned 36 regular-season Dolphins passing records.

The man was simply amazing during the regular season, throwing for more than 61,000 yards and 420 touchdowns records that still stand today over 17 seasons.

But he choked when it mattered. He posted an 8-10 record in the playoffs, including a loss in his lone Super Bowl appearance.

As a matter of fact, after reaching the AFC title game twice in his first three seasons, he only made it to that stage once more over the next 14 seasons.

The window of opportunity closed very quickly for the Pittsburgh-native.

And thats exactly what is happening to Manning possibly even quicker than he may realize.

His latest tumble was last weeks 21-18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

This year might have been the best shot the Colts had to advance to the Super Bowl since Mannings arrival.

Indianapolis started 2005 on a thirteen-game winning streak, owned the best record in the AFC and gained home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and a first-round bye. All were supposed to help the Colts cruise through the playoffs and reach their first Super Bowl since moving to Indianapolis. They had to win just two games at home, in possibly the loudest dome in the country.

Yet, the AFCs highest-scoring offense was held to 18 points at home and its quarterback was sacked five times, dropping Manning to 3-6 in the playoffs. Even the easiest possible route to the Super Bowl was too much of a hurdle for the Colts.

So, with four straight playoff appearances and three straight division titles, the Colts have established themselves as a perennial playoff team. So what? A perennial playoff team that isnt a contender is about as frightening as the Houston Texans.

With several veterans on the team, the corps of the winning Colts teams of the past few years may fall apart to free agency. Some of these guys may actually want to win a Super Bowl instead of extending their seasons by a week or two with nothing more to show for it.

In other words, Manning may not enjoy too many more amazing seasons, such as this year or 2004. His window of opportunity may be closing fast.

If he plays as long as Marino, or even a year or two less, Manning would still have a good chance to surpass him in passing yards, touchdowns, pass attempts and completions, along with many other records the former Dolphin holds.

But if he never reaches the Super Bowl or wins one, he wont be remembered among the elite group of QBs such as Joe Montana, Troy Aikman and Tom Brady.

He will be associated with players such as Marino and Warren Moon extraordinary talents who were never good enough to be winners.

That being said, Peyton Manning just might be this generations Dan Marino.