Dec 22, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) looks to pass in the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 37-28. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Peyton Manning knows the narrative.
He’s old. He’s finished. He’s washed up. He’s in decline. He’s in a funk. He can’t do it anymore.
Yet Manning still leads the NFL in touchdown passes, and if he gets one more against the Oakland Raiders, he will be the only quarterback in history to throw at least 40 touchdowns in three separate seasons.
I can’t get in the mind of Manning and know why he decided to come out this week and say he’ll return next season. It’s a safe bet the nonsensical narrative is a reason why.
He’s 38 years old.
He’s coming off of the best season a quarterback has ever had in NFL history (save for the Super Bowl). Not even Manning can follow up that performance with another best season in NFL history.
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Yet Manning still leads the league in touchdown passes. His team is 11-4 with a chance to get a first-round bye in the playoffs. The Denver Broncos offense is in the top five.
The expectations people have of Manning are completely and totally unrealistic. And no other professional athlete faces that level of criticism. If he’s not perfect, the sky is falling and all hell breaks loose.
The verbal garbage spewed since the Monday Night loss to the Cincinnati Bengals is beyond the pale.
He threw four interceptions. Oh, my. Might as well bench him. He’s finished. Let’s see what Brock Osweiler can do. He can’t do worse than that washed up Manning fellow.
The special teams were atrocious.
The defense allowed big plays.
Dec 22, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Brandon Tate (19) is tackled by Denver Broncos punter Britton Colquitt (4) after a punt return during the fourth quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
The Broncos got away from running the football. They only ran it 19 times while rushing it 44. Where was the balance?
The offensive line played arguably its worst game of the season.
But that’s all Manning’s fault.
Newsflash: Manning played a bad game. So did the Denver “team.” They were playing a team that needed the game more than the Broncos. As was the case in a similar game last season against the San Diego Chargers, it capped off a brutal portion of the schedule.
Let’s not forget as well that Denver had it’s bye in Week 4.
It’s played one of the toughest schedules in the NFL this season and is still in position to get a first-round bye.
Oh, and Manning still leads the NFL in touchdown passes despite the fact he’s washed up and finished.
That narrative may not be the sole reason Manning decided to make his announcement this week, but it played a role.
Instead of finding fault in every little thing, take a deep breath and be grateful.
Dec 22, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) during warmups prior to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports