Top 15 Moments That Defined the Career of Peyton Manning

The greatest quarterback to ever live has called it quits.

Football fans across the world, along with the NFL, will never be able to watch the league in the same fashion again, with Peyton Manning retiring after an incredible 18-year career. Records were set. Five MVPS and two Super Bowls were won.

You can say what you want. I don't care who you are a fan of. When you set every meaningful record, win five MVPs, and two Super Bowls (without any cheating scandals) you put yourself on a level that no one else did.

Peyton Manning redefined the quarterback position, playing with five different coaches and taking four of them to the Super Bowl. One championship ring with the Indianapolis Colts and one with the Denver Broncos

The league will never be the same. I personally will not be able to enjoy the NFL ever again, but am grateful I got to see him play in the AFC Championship live this year. It was one of the best sporting events I will ever witness.

Luckily, millions across the world got to see The Sheriff on television, anyway. The way he ran up to the line of scrimmage to call audibles, those beautiful throws he made, as well as his intensity and class.

Something we are all going to have to get over together is life after Manning. But we can't do anything else but be grateful about what we saw from him. He showed greatness.

Here are the 15 moments that defined the career of Peyton Manning.

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15 All-Time Passing Yards Leader

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The only reason this isn't near the top of the list is because it was the worst game of Manning's career, though also a record breaker.

In a Week 10 game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2015 season, Manning threw four interceptions, had a zero quarterback rating and was pulled half-way through the game, where everyone assumed he was done.

Manning did, however, pass Brett Favre in career passing yards. Manning retires with 71,940 yards, surpassing Favre's 71,838.

14 2009 AFC Championship Comeback

via nfl.com

Remember when Peyton Manning was a choker and couldn't lead his team deep into the playoffs? He showed his true clutch gene here.

In the 2009 AFC Championship Game against the New York Jets, the Colts trailed 17-6, and it looked as though Manning was poised for a third-straight early playoff exit, but he had other ideas.

Against Revis Island and co., Manning led the Colts on a huge comeback, throwing for 377 yards and three touchdowns as the Colts scored 24 straight points, advancing to the Super Bowl with a 30-17 win.

13 First Start as a Bronco

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So how many times did people think Peyton Manning was finished and wouldn't be the same? Well, many going into the 2012 NFL season certainly had doubts.

In fact, the San Diego Chargers were the most popular pick (it seemed) to win the AFC West, with no one believing The Sheriff was capable of carrying a team on his back anymore.

In his Broncos debut, he had to face the stingy Pittsburgh Steelers defense. He threw 19 completions for 253 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Broncos to a big season opening victory.

12 Taking Down Brady in 2013

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Spoiler alert: Manning's best moments often consist of defeating his arch-nemesis, Tom Brady.

The Broncos hosted the New England Patriots in the 2013 AFC Championship Game, with many believing that Brady and Bill Belichick would be able to outlast the NFL's highest-scoring offense of all-time.

Not to be. Manning threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Broncos to their first Super Bowl in 15 years. Just when people counted him out, he was able to do it one last time.

11 Monday Night Comeback, Part I

Manning's debut season with the Broncos was an ugly start, with the team at 2-3, visiting the San Diego Chargers, who absolutely owned Manning throughout his career when he was with the Colts.

History appeared to repeat itself. The Chargers led 24-0 at half-time, and the Broncos were going to fall 2-4 with a daunting schedule ahead. Their season already appeared in jeopardy.

That's when Manning rallied the Broncos, who scored 35 unanswered points. Manning threw three touchdowns to turn both teams' fortunes around: Denver won their final 11 games to close out the regular season, while the Chargers won just seven games that year before firing head coach Norv Turner.

10 Returning to the Scene

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In a movie that has more drama to it than any epic film, novel, or television show, The Sheriff began his last rodeo in epic fashion.

In Week 17 of the 2015 season, Manning watched helplessly as the Chargers led Denver 13-7, with the offense committing five turnovers. Manning was given one more shot to earn the starting job.

Manning would return, and the Broncos scored 20 unanswered points in the second half for the victory to lock up the AFC's top seed.

9 First Playoff Win

via bleacherreport.com

Manning did not win any playoff games through his first five years. Early on, he was stuck with the narrative "Can't win the big one."

Well, it finally came through when he played his former team, the Broncos, in the 2004 AFC Wild-Card round. All Manning did was put the haters to rest: 377 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-10 win to finally get his playoff success on track.

How funny is it that Manning would crush his future franchise in a playoff game? Mind you, it was still nine years until he donned the Orange.

8 Lucky 55

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Manning once had the NFL record for most touchdown passes in a season, setting the mark with 49 in 2004.

Then, rival Tom Brady broke the record throwing 50 in the 2007 season. So what does Manning do? Well, it would take over a half decade to put his name back into the record book, but you get the idea.

Manning would throw 55 touchdowns in the 2013 season to take the record back. He set the record after throwing four touchdowns in a Week 16 game against the Houston Texans.

And history was made.

7 The Most Touchdowns

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Peyton Manning still had another record to shatter, but perhaps none was more memorable than primetime domination on the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7 of the 2014 season.

Manning would break Brett Favre's record for most career touchdowns (Favre had 508). The Sheriff threw four against one of the NFL's stingiest defenses. Check out the stat line for this game:

22-of-26, 318 yards, and four touchdowns. Manning set his legacy on this memorable night with the most touchdowns.

6 Monday Night Comeback, Part II

You know you're a great quarterback when coming back from a 24-0 half-time deficit on Monday Night Football isn't your best comeback on the day after Sunday.

The Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers met on Monday Night Football in Week 5, at the Pirate's Ship. The Bucs' led 35-14 with 5:09 remaining, and this game was all but over.

Except it wasn't. The Colts scored a touchdown quickly, recovered an onside kick and Manning threw a touchdown to Marvin Harrison to make it a one-score game. Ricky Williams scored a rushing touchdown to force overtime.

Mike Vanderjagt missed a game-winning field goal in overtime, but a Buccaneers penalty gave him another shot, which he succeeded on.

By the way, Manning has the most game-winning drives. Thought he was a choker?

5 Fourth-and-Two Comeback

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The Colts kicked off the 2009 season with an 8-0 start, but had to defeat their arch-rivals, the New England Patriots, at home to keep the perfect season in tact. That's easier said than done.

The underdog Patriots came out red-hot, and carried a 31-14 lead in the fourth quarter. The Colts scored a touchdown to make it a 10 point game, but Stephen Gostkowski added a field goal to make it 34-21 with 4:12 left.

Joseph Addai scored a touchdown to make it a six-point game. Bill Belichick infamously had his offense go for it on fourth-and-two at their own 28-yard line. The Colts defense forced a stop, and Manning used the short field to his advantage by hitting Reggie Wayne in the end zone to win the game, 35-34.

4 "This Might Be My Last Rodeo"

Those infamous words were spoken when Manning and Brady squared off for the 17th time in the Mile High City.

I mentioned earlier I attended this game, for what it's worth. The Broncos were underdogs despite home advantage and having the NFL's best defense. But that didn't matter to most experts.

Manning didn't play great, but he did throw for 175 yards and two touchdowns, with his defense helping him in 20-18 to move to 3-2 against Brady in the playoffs. Manning infamously told Belichick it may be his last rodeo, which it was.

I can't say how unreal it is to know I saw his final home game and touchdown pass.

3 2006 AFC Championship

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So Manning hosts Brady, where he's 2-6 all-time against his arch-rival. Brady had three Super Bowl rings. Manning had zip.

The Patriots jumped out to a 21-3 second quarter lead, and the game already seemed all but over. But Manning's Colts trailed by 15 at half-time, and the comeback was just starting.

The Colts made it 21 all. Late in the fourth, they trailed 34-31, with Manning needing to complete an epic drive to send his team to the Super Bowl. He set up Joseph Addai's game-winning touchdown in the final minute, with a Brady interception FINALLY sending Manning to the Super Bowl.

2 His First Ring

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Following his epic comeback win against the Patriots, the Colts still had one more game they had to win to solidify Manning's legacy.

The Colts had to face the Chicago Bears, one of the most historically-dominant defenses, led by Brian Urlacher. Manning also had to play in the outdoor Miami rain, how fun for a guy who played his career in mostly domes.

Manning completed 25 passes for 247 yards, one touchdown, and one interception and was named Super Bowl MVP. He finally won his elusive first ring, shaking off the narrative that he couldn't win the big one.

1 Last Rodeo

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The Broncos' quarterback made one epic return as starting quarterback for the Broncos in Week 17 of 2015.

Manning's Broncos advanced to the Super Bowl to take on the 15-1 Carolina Panthers, the NFL's most dominant team led by MVP Cam Newton, and no one thought Denver would win this one.

Manning didn't play great: 13 completions for 141 yards and no touchdowns with an interception. But it doesn't matter. He did just enough as the defense helped him go out on top with a 24-10 win.

What a way for the career to end. Thank you, Sheriff. You are the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. (Sorry for stealing your line, Bret)

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