Nov 2, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) leaves the field after an incomplete pass on a fourth down during the fourth quarter of their 43-21 loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Superman can do a lot, but kryptonite renders him completely useless. That is essentially what happens to Peyton Manning when he enters Gillette stadium to face Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the New England Patriots.
Or, as he put it, he flat out ‘stunk.’
It wasn’t just Manning, but you could smell the Broncos’ stink through the TV in a loss that felt as bad of a blowout as what we endured in the Super Bowl, although points weren’t quite as hard to come by. As fate would have it, the last two times the Broncos have allowed 43 points have been in blowout losses to the two teams that have beaten them in 2014.
And in both cases, Manning couldn’t do anything about it, despite his record-setting nature and star-studded cast of teammates. The Patriots, armed with seemingly less on paper, got into Manning’s head early on and forced the Broncos to commit turnovers, special teams gaffes, and horrible inefficiency on offense.
It was flat out ugly.
Peyton Manning and the gang know they got their butts kicked in New England this time around, but this has become a pattern. Save for one half of action against the Patriots last season, a road trip to New England has been as good as a done deal loss for the Broncos…and every other AFC team over the last six years.
But if the Broncos want to go to the Super Bowl, they very well may have to go through New England to get there, and right now, there’s no reason to believe they could pull off that kind of a stunt. There’s no reason to believe the Broncos could weather the storm, go into Gillette and take down Tom Brady and the boys on their home field. Manning hasn’t proven he can do it in orange and blue, and the Broncos haven’t proven they can do it.
It’s a sad reality that the Broncos face, a team that is so chock-full of talent and ability, led by what many believe to be the best quarterback to ever play the game. It doesn’t equate. The Broncos should have been able to go into New England and at least make things tough on them. They should have been able to go into New England and win.
Right now, the Patriots and Broncos are tied in the loss column at two apiece, but the Patriots have seven wins and are in the driver’s seat for control of the top overall seed in the AFC. That’s the ugly reality for the Broncos, who can at least tie the Patriots in overall record this weekend with a win in Oakland, a game that the Broncos should win. The Patriots have a bye week this week, so the Broncos can gain some ground and they need to, because the way the Patriots are playing right now, they only need the Broncos to slip up one or two more times and they could coast into the playoffs with the top seed in hand.
And that kind of confidence and motivation is not what the Broncos want their biggest AFC rivals to have.
When it comes down to it, the ugly reality of the situation is that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have Peyton Manning’s number. They just do. They can do whatever they want against him when they’re playing at home, and they proved that by going for a two-point conversion with the game well in hand as well as a fake punt. Belichick was taunting Manning. He was letting him know that he feels like he’s got Manning on a leash, and Manning knows it.
The Patriots were making a statement, and they didn’t care much about sportsmanship while doing it. And they shouldn’t. Neither should the Broncos next time these two teams meet, if it happens again this season. The problem with the Broncos going into hostile road environments with a lot at stake is that they choke in the moment. They lack the killer, aggressive instinct to put teams in their place, and demonstrate alpha-male dominance.
The Broncos should be going into visiting stadiums and treating them like a dog does a fire hydrant — as his own personal property. The Broncos should be whizzing in teams’ stadiums, claiming them as their own. Instead, they come in with their tails between their legs and a shock collar around the neck, trying to be the most polite guest they can possibly be.
The Broncos started Sunday’s game with two drives trying to ‘feel the Patriots out’ and it failed miserably. What have they learned in these last three years? Slow and steady loses in the NFL. The Patriots proved that theory. The Seahawks proved that theory. When the Broncos go into hostile territory, they don’t live up to expectations because it seems they don’t set them high enough for themselves.
That’s the biggest problem I see, and that comes straight from John Fox and, as much as I hate to say it, Peyton Manning.
It’s time for the Broncos to buck up and start acting like they are better than everyone else, because they are. It’s time for the Broncos to start flexing in the mirror, becoming that every other team labels as ‘douchy’ because they win big and they know they are better than everyone else. That worked for the Seahawks last year. The Broncos need a sort of arrogance that is only accepted because of the fact that they have no flaws. They can create that, they simply choose not to.
It’s starting to get tough to watch when they have big road games to face. Instead of penciling in a loss, how about the Broncos go ahead and put a stamp on a win one of these times?
They might just have to if they want to win it all this year.