ManningWatch: Peyton's right about 49ers


INDIANAPOLIS -- Peyton Manning's interview with ESPN's Trey Wingo swerved into NFC West territory about five minutes into the clip below.

The San Francisco 49ers and their fans will appreciate what Manning said when Wingo asked how tough it is for Manning to watch the Super Bowl come to his town.

"I've always said it's probably harder for the playoff teams not to be here," Manning said. "When you get really close, like San Francisco, like Baltimore. We've known we weren't coming to the Super Bowl for quite some time."

Since November, actually.

A quick look at the five most painful NFC West playoff exits, pre-Super Bowl, since divisional realignment in 2002:

  • 2011 49ers: Their 20-17 defeat to the Giants was crushing for the way it happened, with a turnover during a punt return in overtime -- and at home, which always hurts more. Missed opportunities abounded.

  • 2003 Rams: Losing in the second overtime is worse than losing in the first one. Jake Delhomme's 69-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith in St. Louis stunned the 12-4 Rams in the divisional round. This one would have ranked first if a Super Bowl trip had been on the line.

  • 2003 Seahawks: Seattle was looking for its first playoff victory since the 1980s. Shaun Alexander's fourth-quarter scoring run had forced overtime at Lambeau Field. Microphones memorably picked up quarterback Matt Hasselbeck saying the Seahawks would take the ball -- and score -- after winning the overtime coin toss. Al Harris' interception return for a touchdown spoiled those plans.

  • 2006 Seahawks: A 27-24 overtime defeat at Chicago in the divisional round brought a sudden end to the Seahawks' NFC title defense. Alexander rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn't enough.

  • 2004 Seahawks: First-round defeats in back-to-back seasons extended the Seahawks' drought without a playoff victory. The Seahawks lost this one at home, 27-20, after the Rams scored the final 10 points.

Arizona's defeat at New Orleans following the 2009 season just missed the cut. The game lacked the drama generally required to inflict deep emotional wounds. It was significant, however, because Kurt Warner suffered a concussion and opted for retirement.