The Patriots have long been able to vouch for Manning's mettle and bona fides. He not only ended New England's dream of a 19--0 season in Super Bowl XLII but also beat them in Foxborough during the 2011 season, on a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jake Ballard with 15 seconds remaining.
"He's a great quarterback," said Brady. "I've always watched him. He does everything you're looking for as a quarterback. I've seen it firsthand what he can do in the fourth quarter of these games. He's done a great job bringing his team back. He's a great leader. You always hear that coming out of New York—the guys really have a lot of respect for him, and so do I."
"He wins," said New England coach Bill Belichick. "That's really what a quarterback's job is, to manage the game so his team can win. That's what he's done."
IN THE DOING OF IT IN 2011, even before he had thrown his first pass against the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, Manning had proved himself once and for all to be what so many critics, for so long, said that he could never be: a person who is ideally suited to play quarterback under the harsh, penetrating klieg lights of New York. His consistently calm bearing, which caused so many to accuse him of being inappropriately blasé in times of turmoil, was revealed instead to be the mark of a man with a steadfast confidence in himself and his team. He is the rare athlete who can insist that past failures don't eat at him and that his only goal, his only thought, is to play the best he can and mean that truly and deep down.
By the time Manning, by again beating the Patriots, became the first quarterback in New York history, and just the 11th in NFL history, to pilot his team to multiple Super Bowl wins, the question about whether he might be considered elite had already been answered. Even if he were to never throw another pass, his legacy in the Big Apple, and in NFL history, is secure.