NEW YORK -- Champ Bailey has seen plenty of quarterbacks work at crunch time, with the clock grinding, timeouts gone.
“And the guys with the same expression, the look in their eyes, that they know what to do, they’re comfortable doing it, they’ve been there before and won before,’’ Bailey said. “Those are the guys you want with the ball in their hands with your team and the guys, as a defense, you know are always a threat to beat you. Peyton [Manning] is one of those guys.’’
Manning has led the Broncos to the franchise’s seventh Super Bowl and when ESPN.com NFL Nation reporters asked over 320 players: “Two-minute warning and the Super Bowl is on the line. Whom do you want at quarterback?’’ Manning was one of the top choices.
But he wasn’t the top choice. League-wide the quarterback the Broncos beat to go to the Super Bowl -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady -- was the top pick. Forty percent of the players surveyed picked Brady, who has won three Super Bowls in his career and been to five.
Among the 10 Broncos who were surveyed, Manning was the overwhelming choice. Since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970, Manning leads all quarterbacks with 50 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter.
Hall of Famer Dan Marino is second, since the merger, with 47. In a season when the Broncos have piled on the points, the Broncos have needed just one such drive, for a game-winning field goal in Dallas in Week 5.
“I always say when you have a guy like Peyton at quarterback, you always have hope,’’ Bailey said. “You’re always going to be in the mix and that’s all you can ask for as a player.’’
“The guys who make the plays when it counts are the ones that understand everybody in that huddle is looking to them,’’ said Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway, also a pretty fair game-on-the-line quarterback on his way to the Hall of Fame. “A quarterback in that situation has to believe he can get it done, be prepared to get it done and done the work in those situations to be able to get it done. When you’ve got that kind of guy, you’re going to have a chance to win a world championship.’’