People will be talking about Peyton Manning's ridiculous performance against the Ravens the rest of this week, the rest of this season and probably decades from now.
Manning wants no part of the discussion.
Manning had 462 yards and seven touchdowns as the Broncos destroyed the Ravens 49-27 on Thursday night in the first game of the NFL season. He is the first NFL player since 1969 to throw seven touchdowns in a game and just the sixth player in NFL history to do it. Even more impressive, the Denver Broncos' quarterback avoided saying one single nice thing about himself after his legendary performance.
No matter what, he was not going to budge in his postgame media conference.
Attempt No. 1: "Is that the best game of your career?"
(As an aside, it's pretty telling that there is an actual debate if a 462-yard, seven-touchdown performance is in fact, the best game of Manning's career. We'll get back to this topic in a bit, after his non-answer.)
Manning: "I don't know. I guess I haven't had a whole lot of time to think about it. Our offensive line did a great job protecting against a tough bunch up front ... "
Attempt No. 2: "Did you think seven touchdowns was possible in a NFL game, considering it has been 44 years?"
At least Manning got to show off his keen sense of NFL history by naming the last person to do it, and also his knowledge of famous Internet videos.
Manning: "Yeah, Joe Kapp, great Canadian quarterback out of Cal. Kicked the crap out of a guy on YouTube a couple years ago."
And then he went into some unrelated answer about the Broncos' defense. But, he was correct about Kapp ...
Attempt No. 3: "You've had many magical days and nights in your career, but do you understand the magnitude of this?"
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Manning: "It was a great team win."
In his answers to those three questions, he praised: Denver's offensive line, Wes Welker, Julius Thomas, the defensive players for doing well without Von Miller and Champ Bailey, and the Broncos' crowd. In subsequent answers, he gave credit to running backs Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball and Knowshon Moreno, and offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
To listen to Manning's version of events, the guy who set the NFL record didn't have anything to do with it.
"This one was pretty phenomenal," Broncos coach John Fox conceded.
"You're just sitting there like, 'That was seven?' Because he goes nonchalantly about it," Welker said.
Demaryius Thomas, who took Manning's quick screen and turned it upfield for a 78-yard score for Manning's seventh touchdown with 4:30 left, said he has never seen a quarterback throw seven touchdowns at any level.
"Maybe in Madden," Thomas said. "That doesn't count though. This was real life. It was amazing."
Seven touchdowns against the defending Super Bowl champions is one of the all-time great performances in league history, but maybe not even the best Manning has had. Consider ...
• Manning has two other six-touchdown performances. He was 20-of-25 for 314 yards and six touchdowns in 2003 against New Orleans. He also had a 23-of-28, 236-yard and six-touchdown game against Detroit in 2004. All three of his games with six or more touchdowns included no interceptions. There have been 39 games of at least six touchdowns in NFL history, and Manning is the only one with three of them.
• There have been 41 games with a perfect QB rating in NFL history, and Manning has four: vs. New England in 2000, vs. Philadelphia in 2002, the aforementioned game vs. the Saints in 2003 and vs. the Broncos in a playoff game at the end of the 2003 season. Oddly, his game against the Ravens didn't reach the perfect 158.3 passer rating. It was just 141.1. Yeah, it makes no sense.
There are other great Manning performances, like the AFC championship game comeback against New England during the 2006 season or a 377-yard game against the Jets in another AFC title game win at the end of the 2009 season. The list is long. That's why he's going to the Hall of Fame the moment he's eligible.
[Related: The good, bad and ugly of Broncos' victory]
The point is, we're witnessing something special. A 37-year-old quarterback should not be able to do what Manning did to the Ravens. A 27-year-old shouldn't either. It seems just about impossible. He finished second in the NFL MVP voting last season, and given the Broncos' uptempo offense, the addition of Wes Welker and the emergence of tight end Julius Thomas, he has a great chance to win his fifth MVP award this season. At an age when he should be easing into retirement, he just had one of the greatest games in the history of the league.
He's fine letting others point all of that out.
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