NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Based on his performance Sunday night, Peyton Manning’s star-studded NFL career just may have come to a close.
Sunday night, Manning didn’t have what it takes for a NFL quarterback to advance his team in the playoffs. To pour salt in the wound, Manning’s Broncos lost 24-13 to his old team, Indianapolis.
There will be no Super Bowl for Manning this season. To make matters worse, the AFC playoff game was in Manning’s backyard. It marked the ninth time that a Manning team went one-and-done in the playoffs, another record he set.
Manning didn’t display enough arm strength to complete his pinpoint out routes, or those long spirals over the middle. He was left with dinking and dunking his way down the field. Five-yard completions were all too frequent and inconsequential.
That’s not the Peyton Manning I’ve known for years.
On a third-and-six pass attempt in the third quarter, Manning threw a one-hopper in front of Wes Welker. A mild chorus of boos before the play turned into a louder version, a message that could not be denied.
Manning was outwardly frustrated. Several of his passes were dropped. Demaryius Thomas dropped two passes right in his hands. It was obvious Manning doesn’t have the number and quality of weapons he has enjoyed during a magnificent record-breaking career, the majority of his career played in a Colts uniform.
He looked old and tired. The wear and tear of four neck surgery procedures would take its toil on those athletes younger than Manning. Father Time has also played a part. It’s impossible to out run him.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck replaced Manning in Indianapolis after the Colts released the former University of Tennessee star in 2012. Luck reminds me in many ways of a younger, but stronger, Peyton Manning.
Luck’s best years are in front of him.
Manning’s best years are in his rear view mirror.
Manning loves to get on top of his opponents as soon as possible. He got them on the scoreboard first Sunday. After the Colts were forced to punt after going three-and-out after the opening kickoff, Manning wasted no time.
He was perfect in his three passes during the Broncos first drive. He threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Thomas, giving Denver a 7-0 lead. Manning orchestrated the 68-yard drive in seven plays. He hit three different receivers with his three completions.
After that, Manning started showing his age. He overthrew several long passes and at one point was 0 for 7, the longest dry spell for Manning in his playoff history.
Still, the Colts were clinging to a 14-10 lead at halftime, as both teams leaned heavily on their defenses.
The Colts twice built 11-point leads in the second half, forcing the Broncos out of their comfort zone. Indy played tight coverage on the Colts wide receivers, allowing them to put more pressure on Manning.
He finished completing 26 of 46 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown. Manning averaged only 4.6 yards on his completions. The Broncos were only 4 of 16 on third down conversions as Manning saw more blitzes on those downs than he was used to. He was sacked twice, losing 11 yards.
A Broncos attempt to score a late touchdown fell painfully short. As the final seconds ticked off, it was something no one wanted to see.
It may be the last time we see Peyton Manning in a football uniform. If so, it was hard to watch.