A sad Peyton Manning still has plenty of apologists in the media. (Andy Lyons/ Getty Images)
Denver Post - While concern regarding the Broncos is justified, history says Super Bowl hopes do not vanish in a loss in game 15 of a 16-game regular season. Since the NFL became a week-to-week mob of mediocrity, four of the past eight Super Bowl champions have lost their penultimate game – including last season’s Seattle Seahawks and Peyton Manning‘s 2006 Indianapolis Colts.
What is most puzzling about the Broncos as they get ready for the second season is Manning, who threw four interceptions. He struggled early as the Broncos were continuing to seek offensive balance in the first half. He got hot in the third quarter, throwing three touchdown passes, as the Broncos chucked their run-pass balance in exchange for the singular benefits of their quarterback’s right arm.
But then it started pouring rain in the fourth quarter and Manning’s passing seemingly became too much of a good thing.
ESPN - So, on that third-and-1, they were again using three wideouts, with Manning in the shotgun. Manning tried to jam the ball in for Thomas to get the first down. Except the receiver cut one way, the ball went the other, and Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick made a routine catch and ran it back 30 yards for a touchdown. …
But perhaps more concerning is the fact that the Broncos haven’t shown the ability to pull Manning through a rough night on the road to get a win. Their special teams cratered Monday — the Bengals had 206 return yards — the defense allowed 207 yards rushing, including an 85-yard touchdown run, and the Broncos’ injuries at linebacker appeared to have caught up to them.
CBS Sports – In a driving rainstorm at Cincinnati, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning fell apart in the fourth quarter. He threw three of his four interceptions in the quarter, including a pick-six with 2:41 left that put the game out of reach.
Manning made several brilliant throws in the third quarter before tossing a few wounded ducks in the fourth.
Is there anyone in the world who gets better press than Peyton Manning? Santa Claus doesn’t get this kind of support, and he’s really good in bad weather. And just to beat the metaphor to death, the sports media are elves, working around the clock on Manning’s behalf, making excuses for him like they’re toys, and the end of the season is always their busiest time.
The Manning Apology Machine has its work cut out for it after that white hot dumpster fire he delivered last night. It started, as it often does, with Jon Gruden. Just prior to that unforgivable pick-6 Manning threw to Tre Kirkpatrick, Gruden, with what I assume was a straight face, called Manning “one of the greatest crunch time quarterbacks ever.” Then after the play Gruden said, “You rarely see that from Peyton Manning in these critical situations,” apparently never having seen him do exactly that in last year’s Super Bowl, the 2012 AFC Championship Game or any of his NFL record 18 (and counting) postseason losses.
And it’s continued on into the morning. That Denver Post excerpt above was the first mention of Peyton’s name and it comes in paragraph 14 of the article, and even then it manages to spin his performance like he’s Kim Jong Un and they’re the North Korean state-run media. “Late season losses don’t matter. They relied too much on his magical right arm. His magnificent passing was too much of a good thing.”
ESPN tries — as did Gruden — to pin that interception on Demaryius Thomas who had as much of a chance of getting to that ball as Cooper Manning did. And CBS Sports can’t even go three sentences without changing the subject from the godawful throws he made to Bengals defensive backs to the “several brilliant throws” he made to his own players.
And of course, it wouldn’t all under the Peyton Manning infallibility doctrine if we didn’t blame the rain. Manning is the greatest quarterback that ever lived, if only it wasn’t for that nagging little complication known as the Earth’s environment. Put him in a climate controlled, hermetically-sealed, vacuum-packed, room temperature dome with the AC blowers turned off, and he’s unstoppable. Asking him to make clutch throws in God’s great outdoors is patently unfair.
So good job, Peyton apologists. You’ve got a busy week ahead of you, but you’ve had a lot of practice. And besides, this will get you warmed up for his inevitable playoff collapse once his annual Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) kicks in.