TV Review – “Peyton’s Places: Fantastic Finishes” on ESPN+

Peyton Manning is one of the greatest and most famous football players of all-time. He has hosted Saturday Night Live, appeared in countless commercials and, oh yeah, won a couple of Super Bowls. Now, he’s hosting his own series on ESPN+.

Peyton’s Places follows the NFL great around the country as he explores the history of the National Football League, one piece at a time. The 18th episode takes a look at some of the most fantastic finishes in the history of the game.

As always, the episode opens up with a tease of something we’ll see at the end. In this case, it’s Peyton meeting up with another great quarterback, Joe Montana, and discussing “The Catch.”

Before we get to that though, we jump to a look back at “Fantastic Finishes presented by Alcoa.” As Peyton explains, this quick highlight segment used to play at the two-minute warning of every game and let football fans everywhere see the best finishes from around the league, starting the obsession with the nail-biting finales.

Peyton then sits down with former Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach to discuss the original “Hail Mary.” If you’re a football fan, you’re probably familiar with the term so it’s definitely cool to see the play that inspired it broken down by the quarterback who pulled it off, especially since they’re watching the film on the massive 50-yeard screen in AT&T Stadium. Side note: if this play was before your time you might not have known it inspired the “Hail Mary” term. Unless you’re like me and your father is a big Cowboys fan who never let the opportunity to tell you “the Cowboys ran the original Hail Mary” pass him up.

Then, in what might be the coolest segment in the history of Peyton’s Places, Peyton is joined by a former Giants quarterback to talk about an incredible finish he orchestrated in the Super Bowl against the then-undefeated New England Patriots. As you can probably guess, that quarterback is Peyton’s brother Eli Manning. They highlight the helmet catch made by David Tyree, which in my opinion was an amazing play created by Eli that should have resulted in a routine catch by Tyree (as Peyton points out!), but that’s neither here nor there. It’s a lot of fun watching these two brothers break down that incredible play.

Peyton then heads to the site of the original Yankee Stadium, which played host to “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” The 1958 NFL Championship was the first playoff game ever to go into overtime. Peyton sits with Baltimore Colts wide receiver Raymond Berry who recalled that no one in the stadium knew the overtime rules except the referee. Looking back at how different the game was back then is always interesting.

The next game Peyton looks at is the 1967 NFL championship game, better known at “The Ice Bowl.” Even all these years later and even knowing the end result of the game, watching these highlights is tense. The drama of this game is on another level, especially when every player on the field can barely stay on their feet. Peyton is joined by Packers Hall of Fame linebacker Dave Robinson to talk about this historic game in another segment that will certainly get football fans excited.

Finally, we get back to San Francisco where Peyton and Montana discuss “The Catch.” Watching Joe Montana, who is widely considered to be the greatest quarterback of all time, break down possibly the most famous football play of all time is obviously amazing to watch as a football fan. What makes it even better is watching all of the opposing players, all these years later, insist that Montana was just trying to throw the ball away. I guess it’s hard to just let it go.

This was another great episode of Peyton’s Places, which has become my favorite series on ESPN+. I would have liked to see more than a quick drive by of my personal favorite finish – Super Bowl 34 between the Rams and Titans – but there are so many great games that I can’t really hold that against Peyton. This episode dissected some of the greatest football games of all time.

The first 18 episodes of Peyton’s Places are available now on ESPN+. Fans can subscribe to ESPN+ for just $4.99 a month (or $49.99 per year) and can cancel at any time.