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Rodney Harrison on D&C: Peyton Manning ‘clearly looked rattled’ in Broncos’ Super Bowl loss

02.03.14 at 10:28 am ET
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Former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss Peyton Manning and the Broncos‘ loss in Super Bowl XLVIII. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

After one of the best seasons of his career, Manning had one of his worst games as the Broncos fell to the Seahawks 43-8.

“I think the pressure was just too much,” Harrison said. “I think it was overwhelming for the entire team. You saw from the very first play of the game. When you have two weeks to prepare for a team, you should come out and be able to handle the pressure, especially having that experience.

“I don’€™t know if the expectations were too high or they were just trying to play a perfect game. It was just really sad because to see something like that. I mean as a fan, I’€™m watching, I want a good, competitive game, and it was just flat-out embarrassing.”

“That was a prime example of what Peyton’€™s been struggling with,” Harrison added. “You know, in those big games, those big moments, not being able to come through, and he clearly looked rattled.”

Manning’€™s night started off with a botched snap that went sailing by his helmet before landing in the end zone.

“He didn’t look like the same Peyton Manning that was throwing the ball all over the place this whole entire season, and he just looked different,” Harrison said. “That’€™s what people are going to remember him by.

“People say, ‘€˜OK, the MVPs and the record-setting year he had this year,’€™ but at the end of the day, they’€™re going to look back at this game, and this game is going to haunt him. … This game will haunt him as well as the rest of those guys. The rest of those guys will be fine, but this is something that’€™s going to stick with Peyton.

“This is going to be tattooed next to Manning’€™s name if he doesn’t win another one.”

As nervous as Manning and the Broncos looked, Seattle remained calm and continued its basic defensive plan throughout the game.

“It was what they preached all weekend: ‘€˜We had success all year doing a couple of things defensively and we just let our talented group of guys just play football,’ ” Harrison said.

“The thing that really impressed me — a lot of times when you haven’€™t been in a situation like this in a big game, you get nervous and have all this anxiety, and these guys, they just played loose. And it was completely opposite with Peyton, with having that Super Bowl experience, you could just tell they felt the pressure. They were trying to play a perfect game and everything just went wrong.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

On comparing Tom Brady to Manning: “I’ve said this before, I think both of these guys are top three or four quarterbacks of all time. No question about it. Tom has been spectacular. I think if you look at Peyton, I think he’€™s more naturally gifted as a quarterback in terms of just being a pure passing quarterback.

“People take that as like a slap in the face. … No, [Brady'€™s] a very talented guy. I played with a lot of natural great athletes, but Tom Brady, his ability to close in the fourth quarter and the things that he’€™s done with less talent offensively. … I think Tom has played on more complete football teams in terms of having a good defense to support him, but the type of talent that Peyton has played with has just been unbelievable. If Peyton Manning does not win a Super Bowl, you almost have to look at his career as being somewhat of a disappointment because of some of these guys and the teams that he has played on.”

On how long Manning and Brady can continue to play: “I think realistically for Peyton, it’€™s one or two more years. I think Tom’€™s one of those guys where he can just go as long as he wants. I think Peyton has been through the grind so much with the neck surgeries, the disappointments. … He’€™s done a lot. People don’€™t realize how much preparation goes in.

“It’€™s very difficult at that age to wake up and drive yourself to be great.”

On if the Patriots are close to the Seahawks: “I just think that, you know, the one thing that you kind of worry about is will the hunger and the thirst still be there. I mean, over and over again, you continue to work hard and win a bunch of games, and you fall short. And there comes a point in time internally you have to look in yourself and say how much do these guys have left in them to continue to do that. … I know a lot of people give Bill Belichick a hard time, but to be honest with you, when you sign your two star tight ends to long-term contracts, you expect those guys to be out there — to be able to surround them with other guys, with other talent.

“I thought the running back position was awesome. I thought the offensive line gradually improved this year where they had some consistency in the running game. It’€™s just certain things that the system cannot overcome. You have to have the players to be able to make plays.”

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