By: Danny Cox
Peyton Manning continued a 15-year career of pure and unadulterated class as he met with Ray Lewis in an empty locker room about an hour after the Baltimore Ravens shocked the Denver Broncos 38-35 in double overtime. It was expected that Denver was going to head to the Super Bowl in New Orleans and that Manning would win a title with a second AFC team.
Well, that wasn’t meant to be as the Justin Tucker’s 47-yard field goal sailed through the uprights and allowed the Broncos to stay home for the rest of the year.
Manning was upset, but what player wouldn’t be? Still, he knows that this isn’t the end of the road for him even though he will be 37 years old and wondering what else can be done to get the Broncos to the big game. That is when a whole host of other questions will begin to surface though:
- Is he too old?
- Does he still have it in him?
- Can he win with this team?
- Is it time to hand over the reins?
To make it easy and get it out of the way, those answers are no, yes, yes, and no.
Peyton Manning is far from being too old to play this game and his first season with the Broncos is a clear indication of that. Not to mention that he came back from serious surgeries that actually caused the team that believed in him – for almost his entire career – to give up hope in him. Yet, what did he do?
He came out in a brand new uniform and had his second best single-season in passing yardage with 4,659. He has his second best season in touchdown passes thrown with 37. He had a mere 11 interceptions and the second-highest passing percentage of his career.
Not too shabby for a guy that the Indianapolis Colts thought would never be the same.
This is also the same guy that was in a brand new offensive system, playing with a totally new team, and having to get adjusted to virtually starting over in the NFL. Let’s not forget that he was coming off of multiple surgeries and would have some rusty due to sitting out an entire season.
That rust was blatantly obvious in the second week of the season when the Broncos lost 27-21 to the Atlanta Falcons. Manning was coming off a win in his Broncos debut, but then he stepped onto the field in Atlanta and threw three interceptions. Hold on; make that three interceptions in the first quarter of the game.
During the next three weeks, the Broncos had fallen to a 2-3 record even though Manning was looking decent out there. Well, “decent” transformed into “legendary” as he led Denver to an 11-game win streak to end the season and give them a first-round bye in the playoffs.
It was a first-round bye that ended up pitting them against the Ravens in the second round and giving them an early exit from the playoffs. Still, that loss was an ending to the 2012 season for the Broncos, but not an end to Manning’s career.
He may have gotten a bit of crap from critics and others for not speaking to CBS after the game, but he was upset that his team had lost. It’s not the first time he has done it, and it is doubtful that it will be the last. He also isn’t the first player to ever do that, and if he wasn’t upset with the fact that his team was now eliminated, then that would be the sure sign that it was time to hang up the cleats.
Manning isn’t ready. There is no need for him to give up the game that he is so incredibly good at just because his age will raise another number by next season. The game is still alive in Peyton Manning, and if we’re lucky, it will have a beating heart for at least another four or five years.
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Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.