NFL Divisional Playoffs: No Luck for Denver … Colts Shock Broncos 24-13, Is this the End of Peyton Manning’s Career?
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS DEFEAT DENVER BRONCOS 24-13!!!
There will be no rematch of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the AFC Championship game next week. There was a ‘Mile High’ upset this afternoon in the final Divisional playoff game of the weekend as the Denver Broncos were stunned at home by the Colts 24-13. For those who watched the game, it was not even that close. Sorry, but unless you are a Colts fan or a friend and relative of Andrew Luck, no one saw this one coming. Colts QB Andrew Luck outplayed Manning and it is now official, Luck is officially out of the shadow of Peyton Manning. Luck is the new kid on the block to Championship Sunday as all of the remaining QB’s Brady, Wilson and Rodgers all have Super Bowl wins.
Manning said following the game, ‘I didn’t play well enough’. Ya think?
“My mindset right now is just disappointment after (Sunday’s) game … I’m disappointed, I kind of need to process this game, we’ll meet (Monday), I’m disappointed I need to process this game,” Manning said following the loss.
Asked if he could definitely say he was still planning to return to the Broncos next season, Manning said, after a short pause:
“Uh, yeah, I guess I just can’t give that simple answer. I’m processing it. I can’t say that. I could not say that.”
The Colts (13-5) advanced to the AFC conference championship next weekend in New England. The Patriots (13-4) rallied past Baltimore 35-31 Saturday in the other AFC divisional playoff.
The Broncos (12-5) were left to deal with the hangover of yet another playoff debacle – and maybe questions about Manning’s future and that of coach John Fox, as well.
The pundits said that the Indianapolis Colts were not supposed to win in Denver, the Colts were not supposed to be able to run against Denver, the Colts were not supposed to be able to pass protect against Denver … but they did all three, won the game and advanced to next week’s AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots. Let’s give kudos to the Colts, but the question that needs to be asked is what the hell happened to the Denver Broncos? They appeared sluggish and somewhat unprepared to play. Their QB seemed very slow, very old and appeared to have lost his fire. No, I am not talking about Hillary Clinton, I am referring to Peyton Manning. Folks, not just old, damn old. Manning continually overthrew receivers all day and many throws had the folks at Duck Dynasty salivating as they prepared to shoot the fluttering ducks.
After watching today’s game and how Manning finished the 2014 season, I think this is going to be Manning’s last year. His last best chance to win a Super Bowl was last year when he got throttled by the Seahawks. Manning had a miraculous season, but for anyone to think that would continue year after year was wishful thinking. With free agency, loss of coordinators, it would appear the Super Bowl window has shut in Denver.
With the Broncos losing at home on Sunday to the Colts, the most obvious question is whether quarterback Peyton Manning will return next year.
Manning publicly has said that he certainly plans to play, but Jim Nantz of CBS said during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s broadcast that Manning explained during their pregame production meeting that it’s no longer a sure thing.
“He actually told us that ‘I’m gonna wait and see, I can’t really in my heart tell you anything for sure right now,” Nantz said. “My intention is to play, but things have changed since I last said that.’”
One major change looming over the franchise is the potential departure of offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who has been interviewed for multiple head-coaching positions elsewhere. Then there’s the possibility that coach John Fox won’t be back — along with the possibility that Peyton wants to see changes made.
Perhaps Peyton wants Gase to become the head coach of the Broncos.
Apart from whether Peyton chooses to play is the question of whether the Broncos believe based on his current performance and production that he’s worth $19 million in salary for 2015. It would be considerably cheaper to hand the reins to Brock Osweiler, and the gap between Manning and Osweiler may not be as big as it was in September.
Years ago, when I first met Peyton Manning, this would have been one of those days all about football, unable to let it go, heartbroken about the loss. This time, it didn’t feel that way. This felt different.
Maybe it’s because he knows it’s time. Maybe it’s because he knows the end is here.
On the podium, following his team’s 24-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, his former team, in the AFC Divisional Playoff game Sunday, Manning was asked if he would be back to play his 18th season. He was non-committal. When I asked him about it again later, he said he would take some time to figure out.
In the past, Manning would have simply said he was coming back, which is why in my heart I think this could be the end of the Manning era. If it is, it’s a bad way to go out.
If it is, we should all be sad.
The story for another day is whether Peyton Manning, who will obviously be elected to the NFL Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot, is the best QB ever. Sorry, the answer is no. Overall, Manning is 11-13 in the postseason and today’s game was one of his worst playoff performances of all, except maybe the 43-8 Superbowl blowout and maybe a couple of losses against the Patriots were he was beat up badly. Manning has gone one-and-done in the playoffs a record nine times in his otherwise stellar career. That’s hardly best ever stats for a QB. Manning was brought into Denver to win a Superbowl and although his regular season record was 38-10, he is just 2-4 in the playoffs. Peyton Manning may be the best Fantasy football hall of fame QB, not the one on Canton, Ohio.