Manning overcomes family curse to finally win the big one

Sunday, February 4th 2007, 9:14 pm
By: News On 6

MIAMI (AP) _ He did it on a night when the rain fell, the wind swirled and even Prince got dripping wet. He did it when everyone around him seemed to have trouble holding onto the ball and his team fell into a familiar early hole.

It never was going to be easy for Peyton Manning. Somehow, it never is.

Then again, breaking curses is never easy. But it's the only way to vanquish them for good.

You can file this one away alongside the curse of the Bambino. Because a Manning finally won a big one.

Thirty-six years after his father threw his first pass for the forlorn New Orleans Saints, Manning exorcized the demons of two generations Sunday night and washed away the many failures of football's first family of quarterbacks.

This wasn't Archie Manning playing 15 years without a winning season for a team so bad fans put paper bags over their heads in embarrassment. This wasn't Eli Manning throwing wildly downfield for the New York Giants.

For sure this wasn't the Peyton Manning who had come close before but always seemed flustered or overwhelmed when it really mattered.

He wasn't spectacular, but he didn't need to be. The quarterback on the other team made sure of that.

All Manning had to do was take a deep breath, calm down and be himself.

With his dad and brothers watching from a suite upstairs, Manning did just that after a jittery opening series that included two false starts and ended with a Chicago interception.

The Colts already trailed 7-0 when that happened. In Super Bowl parties around the nation Indianapolis fans had to be eyeing each other warily while replaying flashbacks in their minds of last year's playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But Manning came back with his only touchdown pass to a wide open Reggie Wayne, then settled down to take command of a conservative offense more fitting of the other team but perfectly fitted to a wet field and ball.

In doing so he also answered the last remaining question about a career that will now surely end one day in Canton, Ohio. He won a game and a ring, and won one for his family.

About the only thing he didn't do was shout this one out in Market Square in Indianapolis: Peyton Manning CAN win the big one.