Beginning of the end for Peyton Manning, or simply the end?
The Denver Broncos did a good job of hiding the laundry list of injuries. Peyton Manning, the legendary quarterback, has a bad right shoulder, a bad right foot and very sore ribs.
What they couldn’t hide Sunday were the numbers, even on a day when Manning passed Brett Favre for the most passing yards in NFL history.
The one number – 71,871 career passing yards – was nice, but the others were horrific. He was 5-for-20 passing for just 35 yards and four interceptions against the Kansas City Chiefs. He looked old, looked feeble and, sadly, looked done. He was pulled from the game in the third quarter, the coronation replaced by a stadium full of boos.
That’s what happens when you have a passer rating right out of Animal House, a ZERO-POINT-ZERO. That’s hard to do.
It’s the first time in the former Tennessee quarterback’s career that he’s been pulled from a game for ineffectiveness. He’s lost arm strength through the years, but now he can’t push off his foot either. And his ribs are killing him.
Manning, ever classy, refused to use injuries as an excuse after Sunday’s 29-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I have a really hard time using my injuries as an excuse. I have a hard time saying that’s why I played badly,” Manning said. “I was very honest with (athletic trainer Steve Antonopulos) Greek and coach Kubiak. I wanted to be out there for my team. But I certainly didn’t play well, and I am disappointed about that.
“It was a bad game. I put our team in bad positions all day. I was going out to help the team, and I ended up hurting the team. I have to stop turning the ball over.”
It’s a shame Manning broke the record Sunday in Denver instead of Indianapolis the week before, when his last pass was intercepted four yards shy of Favre’s record. Indianapolis, his home for 14 years, would have embraced his record. In Denver, they booed him off the field, living only for the moment.
“Nobody is on a pedestal,” Broncos defensive end Malik Jackson, also a Tennessee grad, said of Manning. “Everybody has to perform. It is what it is.”
If the Broncos were smart, they would give him a month off and let him heal. Despite Manning’s struggles this season – he’s thrown 17 interceptions in nine games – the Broncos are still 7-2 and have a three-game lead in the AFC West. All that matters to the Broncos – and certainly all that matters to Manning – is the playoffs and one last shot at another Super Bowl ring. Give him a month’s rest and see what he can do in the postseason.
But after that, it’s likely all over for Manning. All that’s left is the announcement and an induction to the Hall of Fame in five years.
As someone who’s watched Manning closely for 20 years, it was very hard watching him play Sunday. He threw five passes to Broncos, four to Chiefs. He had no chance to move the Broncos down the field.
Will we see him again? Let’s so hope, but the end is certainly near.