LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Peyton Manning will become the oldest starting quarterback in Super Bowl history next month after piloting the Denver Broncos to a 20-18 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Manning, who turns 40 in March, will surpass Broncos legend John Elway, the previous oldest Super Bowl quarterback who was 38 when he appeared in a 1999 victory against the Atlanta Falcons.
"It's a tremendous honour," said Manning, who will be chasing a second Super Bowl ring after a 2007 victory with his former team, the Indianapolis Colts.
"It has been a special four years playing in Denver for these great fans and for this great organisation. To be going to our second Super Bowl in four years is very special and just an awesome effort by our entire organisation."
Manning meanwhile would not be drawn when asked to reflect on what might have been his 17th and final duel with Tom Brady on Sunday may have meant.
"I'm not going to get into what if scenarios," he told reporters. "But I've stated it all week, I've stated it my entire career - I have great respect for Tom as a player and as a friend and for the job he's done as a quarterback for that franchise."
Before Sunday's win, Manning was already the second-oldest quarterback following his appearance in 2014 at the age of 37 when the Broncos suffered a 43-8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
He was just ahead of Baltimore Colts icon Johnny Unitas who was also 37 when he played in the fifth Super Bowl against the Dallas Cowboys in 1971.
Manning's appearance in the Super Bowl offers the veteran quarterback the chance of a fairy-tale finish to his career should he decide to call it quits at the end of the season.
In Sunday's other play-off contest, Cam Newton ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more to power the Carolina Panthers into Super Bowl 50 with a 49-15 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.