DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning worked out for the AFC squad yesterday at Kapolei High School. The Pro Bowl is Sunday at Aloha Stadium.
Proud Peyton back in Hawaii
Last year Peyton Manning finally arrived at the Pro Bowl as a Super Bowl champion.
This time it's as a proud brother.
The Colts quarterback, here for his eighth NFL all-star game in 10 seasons, was asked yesterday to reflect on the performance Sunday of his younger brother, Eli, in leading the New York Giants past the New England Patriots 17-14 in the Super Bowl.
"What can you say? Unbelievable. He played unbelievable," Peyton Manning said yesterday at Kapolei High School after the AFC's first practice for Sunday's game. "I'm so proud being his brother and as a quarterback I'm unbelievably impressed by the way he played."
Eli Manning's ability to lead a team and win big games was questioned all the way up to Sunday's kickoff, partly because he plays in the biggest media center in the NFL, and partly because he is the son and brother of pro quarterbacks.
Peyton Manning said his brother has been underrated all along in the intangibles.
"His leadership skills have been so overanalyzed. He has played quarterback for a long time. He knows how to lead," Peyton said.
Eli certainly showed it on the game-winning drive Sunday.
He led the Giants from their own 17 to the Patriots end zone in a classic 2-minute drive.
The key play, with around a minute left, was a doubly-improbable 32-yard completion on third and 5 from Manning to David Tyree, putting the ball at the New England 24.
Manning appeared to be stopped in a crushed pocket, but somehow escaped the grasp of Jarvis Green and fired downfield to Tyree.
Tyree caught the ball over his head, between his hands and his helmet, and barely kept it away from Patriots safety Rodney Harrison.
Has Peyton Manning ever seen a greater play?
"I don't think anyone has. I haven't been around that long, but I think it's certainly the greatest play in Super Bowl history," he said. "Considering the magnitude of the game, probably one of the greatest plays in all of history."
Manning would never have had the chance to pull off his late-game heroics if the Giants defense didn't hold the vaunted Patriots offense to a season-low for points.
Defensive end Osi Umenyiora, the Giants' lone Pro Bowl representative, knew exactly what had to happen if the 12-point underdogs were to pull off the upset.
"Before the game I went up to Michael (Strahan) and I went up to Justin (Tuck) and I was like, 'Listen, we're playing in the Super Bowl right now and there's no way we're going to win this game if we don't perform today.' That's the kind of pressure we put on ourselves," Umenyiora said after Pro Bowl practice yesterday. "Can you understand putting that kind of pressure on somebody?"
While the Giants victory is considered by most one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, not everyone was shocked by New York's dominance up front.
"No surprise at all," Vikings veteran center Matt Birk said. "We played them, and they had a tremendous front four, a tremendous front seven. They're excellent. Well-coached and it didn't surprise me at all."
The unassuming Eli Manning, however, did catch a lot of people off guard. Now fans are looking for a Manning vs. Manning Super Bowl.
It would be a lot of fun, but as big brother says, "Nothing will ever top what he did the other night."
The Star-Bulletin's Billy Hull contributed to this report.