Broncos lose AFC Divisional Playoff Game to Colts, 24-13
After the 24-13, playoff defeat to his former team, Indianapolis, Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning could be looking at the final act of his illustrious career. At 38 years old, and with his place in Pro Football’s Hall of Fame already assured, it is right that he steps back to contemplate his options. Having said this though, if Manning decides to return to play for Denver next season he stands to earn a base salary of $19m, but when your estimated net worth is already over $100m, that might feel like less of a priority. Of greater interest to Manning would be the possibility of winning a second Super Bowl ring. Manning’s Broncos won the AFC West this year, just as they have in both of his two previous seasons with the team. They played in a Super Bowl last February but it is so hard to imagine them going a step further next time around.
Manning was bad on Sunday night and has been for more than a month, throwing 36 touchdowns against nine interceptions over his first 12 games this season. In the last five, he has managed just four TDs. Time and again they left Denver’s outside receivers in single coverage and challenged Manning to throw the ball over the top. One after the other, his passes fluttered away out of reach. Manning overthrew receivers eight times in the first half alone. He finished the game with 26 completions on 46 attempts for 211 yards. He was not the only Bronco to underperform, but equally he could hardly claim to be carrying his team alone. Running back CJ Anderson bulled his way to 80 yards on 18 carries, keeping Denver’s hopes alive when he eluded several defenders in the backfield to pick up a first-down on a key fourth-and-one at the end of the third quarter.
If the Broncos’ defence was inconsistent, then it still picked off Andrew Luck twice and put the ball back in Manning’s hands at what should have been key moments. After the Broncos had trimmed the deficit to 21-13 at the start of the fourth quarter, Chris Harris, Aqib Talib and TJ Ward each broke up passes on consecutive plays to force a quick three-and-out and win the ball back quickly for the offense. The Broncos went three yards on three plays and punted the ball straight back.
Manning has come up short in the postseason before, but never quite like this. More than making bad decisions, Manning looked like a man whose body could no longer keep up with his brain. In other words: he looked old. For one who has had a spectacular career, the thought that the likes of Dan Marino, Joe Montana and Jon Elway all played their last seasons at 38 might just be enough to convince him to retire.