Board Topics: Burning question for Tuesday Will Belgium
JERSEY CITY, N. Charles Mann .J. -- John Elway says Peyton Manning cannot stamp himself as the greatest quarterback in NFL history even if he wins the Super Bowl on Sunday. Elway told The Associated Press on Wednesday that hes come to realize the argument over whos the best QB ever is a lot like beauty: Its in the eye of the beholder. "I dont think theres ever going to be a very best. I think theres always going to be a conversation," said Elway, the Broncos Hall of Fame quarterback-turned-executive vice-president who lured Manning to Denver after his release from Indianapolis two years ago. Manning has the chance to become the first starting quarterback to lead two franchises to Super Bowl titles when the Broncos play the Seahawks at MetLife Stadium. When Manning signed with the Broncos on March 20, 2012, Elway declared, "My goal is to make Peyton Manning the best quarterback thats ever played the game." But at the team hotel on the Hudson River on Wednesday morning, Elway said he now realizes that question will never truly be answered "even though when he walks away Peyton may well have broken every single record." "So, youre going to always have your detractors, but he may have a large percentage of whos the best, you know what I mean?" Elway said. "Yeah, all he can do is he can continue to cement his legacy, especially if he continues to keep going like the year he had this year. And Im going to try to make sure he has all the weapons to be able to do that." Manning has brushed off all questions about his legacy this week. With Manning leading the huddle and Elway the front office, Denver is back in the big game for the first time since the Broncos won back-to-back titles in 1998 and 99, after which Elway tried his hand at running restaurants and car dealerships. Those businesses "dont have scoreboards on Sundays," so Elway returned to his beloved Broncos in 2011 to rescue the foundering franchise after a slow descent under Mike Shanahan and a nosedive under Josh McDaniels. Tebowmania quickly came and went and with Manning throwing for 99 touchdowns, the Broncos have gone 28-6 the last two years. Elway looked more relaxed in his suit and tie than he ever did during the weeks preceding the five Super Bowls he played in, wins over Green Bay and Atlanta after losses to the Giants, Redskins and 49ers. Thats because Super Bowl week is way more stressful on a quarterback, he said. "Well, Im finally at the stage where I worry about what I can and cant control," Elway said. This is quite the contrast from Jan. 12, when the Broncos fended off a fourth-quarter rally for a 24-17 win over San Diego that avoided a repeat of their crushing loss to Baltimore exactly a year earlier. Elway said he was "absolutely miserable" watching that game and "it took me four hours to get the pit out of my stomach afterward." "San Diego was different because that was a hump we had to get over because of Baltimore," Elway said. "So, that was something that we had to put in our rearview mirror because if we hadnt done it, then were going to be talking about it for another full year. Then, were dealing with another year of the same thing." That 38-35 double-overtime loss to the Ravens, helped along by Rahim Moores infamous gaffe that allowed Jacoby Jones to haul in a 70-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of regulation, haunted the Broncos for 365 days -- and might return to burden them anew if they dont beat Seattle on Sunday night. As Terrance Knighton put it, "Our goal wasnt to get here. Our goal was to get out of here -- with the Lombardi Trophy." Thats been Elways message since last January, delivered both subtly and forcefully at times. Manning said Elway created an "uncomfortable atmosphere" at Dove Valley last off-season. Elway used Denvers sloppy 40-10 preseason loss at Seattle in mid-August as an opportunity to send a message about effort and expectations. "John pretty much laid it on us," Manning recalled Wednesday. "He was not happy with that game. It was a butt-kicking, and whether its preseason or regular season, he was just sharing his thoughts that that wont be accepted." So unusual was Elways exasperation that Manning took notes, which he said he reviewed this week in preparing for the Seahawks. "He talked about what he thought our potential could be and didnt want to see that wasted," Manning recounted. "So, I think guys got the message. If I was reading it the right way, he mightve been giving the message to some coaches as well. ... I think it was a challenge, too, that he saw some real potential in this team. He thought it had the makings of a special team and just wanted to be sure we were going to max out." Sonny Collins . Jimmy Howard made 44 saves and Henrik Zetterberg scored two goals, leading the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Saturday night. Scott Gudmundson . Petersburg of the KHL. Belov was a free agent last summer when he signed a one-year contract with the Oilers. In 57 games this season he had one goal and six assists with 34 penalty minutes in Edmonton.Day in 100 words or less It was supposed to be a day without drama. A day the bookmakers told us would be rudimentary, seeing France and Germany breeze by Nigeria and Algeria respectively. We should have known better. France were average for 70 minutes and good for 20, scoring late to prevent Nigeria from moving on. Germany, on the other hand, were pathetic for 70 minutes, average for 20 and marginally better in the extra time they needed to see off Algeria. Germany 2-1 Algeria (AET) Germany are in Brazil to win the World Cup. They may be only three wins away but based on this display those victories are going to be very difficult to find. World Cup winners are allowed slow starts and mixed performances along the way, but Joachim Lows side have a lot of work to do between now and July 13. In the end they, just, deserved the win in Porto Alegre but Algeria played a huge part in an enthralling match. They also did a great job at targeting Germanys high defensive line. The problem for Germany was not the position of the line, but the amount of things they did wrong while playing with it. It was clear they didnt want playmakers dropping in between the lines and with Algeria playing deep, Germanys high line made sense. Except, the players didnt orchestrate the game-plan properly. The full-backs are supposed to drop deep to cover any attackers in behind but their positioning was poor. In front, the midfield of Germany did little to press Algeria into a mistake and far too often balls were easily played over the top, forcing Per Mertesacker and Jerome Boateng to regularly turn and face their own goal, an area many centre-backs are not comfortable with. Thankfully, they had Manuel Neuer in behind and he made an incredible amount of clearances outside of his box. Stats powered by Opta Germanys problems continued in possession. They head into the quarter-finals with too many of their key players either not fit or not playing well. This is a team that became obsessed with Spain after losing to them twice at Euro 2008 and at the last World Cup but at the moment they have a balance issue with their front six. Bastian Schweinsteiger, so crucial to their hopes, limped off in extra time and will desperately be needed in the quarter-final. Philipp Lahm is a fine midfielder but his value is much higher as a full-back. Forced into that change when Shkodran Mustafi was stretchered off, Lahm at full-back gives Germany an outlet his teammates trust in a wide area. It also unleashes Sami Khedira into midfield, a player, himself, who is not fully fit but who brings something completely different to the midfield with his penetration. Think Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso from 2010 - that is what Khedira and Schweinsteiger can be. A pair with great strength who can dictate the tempo and direction of a match. Germanys Xavi, Toni Kroos, is a fine player who can dictate the pace and tempo but demands calculated and intelligent movement in front of him. He is not a true playmaker who will beat two or three men and score an individual goal. This puts tremendous pressure on the front three. Again, thinking of Spain, these three are essential for success. Mario Gotze and Mesut Ozil are not natural wide players. They like to operate centrally in spaces between the lines but that makes Germany easy to defend against. Germany needed width, much like Spain did in 2010, and on came their Pedro, Andre Schurrle for Gotze. Ozil, however, was no Andres Iniesta. He is a defensive liability when an opponent is not in possession of the ball and when in possession he is not at his best on the left flank. Ozil likes to make quick movements, quick passes to feet, and out wide that requires full-backs to get forward, something this German team does very little of. Thomas Muller, one of the bright spots for Germany against Algeria, is a vital player for Lows system. However, the jurry is still out on what his best position is. Doug Winslow. . Germany started with a false nine in this tournament, then went to Muller as the target man, but it was clear how valuable he is on the Schurrle goal, as his direct running into space and creativity set up the Chelsea man for a moment of brilliance on the goal. Their next opponents, France, may just be exactly what they need. France are a talented team but they have not been tested enough when forced to defend a lot, they tend to play slowly in possession and Germany should control possession and could do what Spain did to France two years ago at Euro 2012. That is easier said than done, however, and Germany will need to be far better to stay in Brazil. What they do have, though, is a cast of characters who are genuine world class stars. If any team can turn this around quickly it is this one. France 2-0 Nigeria There is a very thin line between success and failure at World Cups. The line is different for every team. Frances victory over Nigeria saw them jump over that line. Whatever happens from now on, this World Cup has become a success for a French team some thought wouldnt qualify after their loss in Ukraine last October. Against Nigeria they were far from perfect but their maturity came through. Under Didier Deschamps there is no room for complacency and France were a united front. For the second successive day, a European team grew stronger as the game wore on and a key tactical switch made the difference. Deschamps chose to play Karim Benzema with Olivier Giroud but Nigeria exploited this, creating overlaps out wide on the left where the Real Madrid man operated. This forced Blaise Matuidi to cover and help Patrice Evra, opening up spaces in midfield. During the second half Antoine Griezmann was introduced for Giroud and the balance of the side was much better. Benzema was not at his best but, importantly, France were able to pull through in a game where he didnt carry them. The goal came from a set-piece and the Nigerian goalie, Vincent Enyeama, who had been excellent, made one error in judgment and allowed Paul Pogba to nod home the winning goal into an empty net. Laurent Koscienly, a menace to defend at set plays throughout, played a huge part by attracting two defenders that the goalkeeper didnt trust to deal with the Arsenal man. It was a fitting goal for Pogba, who was the best player on the pitch. In all, many French players who have excelled at the highest level, the Champions League, performed very well like Mathieu Valbuena, Laurent Koscielny, Raphael Varane and Pogba. Nigeria go home with their heads held high with many of their players having had an excellent World Cup. Man of the Day Nominees Ahmed Musa – The Nigerian attacker has had a fantastic World Cup and his speed on the counter caused France a number of problems. Paul Pogba – The Juventus man had easily his best performance at the World Cup so far and scored the crucial goal. Andre Schurrle – Once again another substitute at this World Cup made a big impact on the game. Manuel Neuer – The German goalkeeper was sensational, often playing as an 11th outfield player, sweeping up behind his defence. Essaid Belkalem – The Algerian defence was brilliant, led by the 25-year-old Watford defender. The winner... Manuel Neuer – Arguably one of the best goalkeepers in the world today had a monumental match when his country needed him the most. What comes next? Argentina vs Switzerland (12pm et/9am pt) and Belgium vs USA (4pm/1pm) Burning question for Tuesday Will Belgium start a game better than they have done so far in this World Cup or will they once again start slowly and allow the USA confidence to build? Key stat of Day 19 With 10 games remaining, we have now had 150 goals at this World Cup. That is more than we had in 2006 and 2010. ' ' '