Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Broncos Loss to the Ravens Not A Referendum On Manning

That's right, despite the fact that Peyton Manning had several turnovers in the Divisional round playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens, he is not to blame for the Broncos' loss. Forget the interceptions and the fumbles, Peyton Manning won that game. Yes, I know what the final score of the game was, but that does not change the fact that Peyton Manning won that game. Allow me to elaborate.

Just think about all of the things that led to this loss for the Broncos. First off, allow me to get it right out of the way, the officiating was straight out abysmal. Phantom pass interference calls followed up by non-calls on clear pass interferences. This was seen in the two of the first three series of the game. After the Ravens punted and Trindon Holliday returned the punt for a touchdown, the Ravens were staring at another third and long. A ball was terribly overthrown by Flacco, Tony Carter played the receiver perfectly, keeping his body between the receiver and the ball, while continuing to play the ball. He followed the path of the ball out of bounds and the receiver went with him without any issues. Flag, PI. Ummm, no.  Few plays later, bomb, touchdown.

Then the next series for the Broncos, third and about eight, Manning throws a pass to Eric Decker that gets batted up in the air, picked off and returned for a touchdown. Forgetting the fact that Manning is the last person that can be blamed for that type of interception, Decker was clearly interfered with and the flag was not thrown. This continued throughout the game, in addition to some just god awful game administration throughout the game that didn't allow any type of flow to the game at all. And the fumble that was the absolute definition of a "tuck rule" incompletion. You get the point.

Second, think about how people said he was incapable of playing in the cold. Previously, in the three other games that Manning had played below 40 degrees, he had thrown only one touchdown and seven INTs. He threw three TDs during this game and didn't appear to have any issues throwing the ball. The only interception/turnover that was on him was the one that happened in overtime.

Third, the Bronco defense was pathetic. Champ Bailey should be ashamed of the way he played, Von Miller and the Denver pass rush were horrendous and gave precisely no pressure to Joe Flacco. When there was some type of adversity, the defense was unable to hold the Ravens out of the endzone like they were able to do to teams consistently throughout the Broncos' 11-game win streak.

Fourth, the coaching was horrible. No adjustments were made, at least no visible ones, to a team that had been one of the best at adjusting on the fly and between the first and second halves in the entire league. The defensive coaches, especially, were a gigantic failure. Failing to see that Champ was having trouble staying with Torrey Smith and adjusting accordingly.

Still, despite all of this, Peyton Manning led his team on a fourth quarter drive that was capped off with a touchdown pass from Manning to Demarius Thomas. Despite all these things working against him; the poor officiating, the horrible play of the defense, the frigid cold weather and the seeming ineptitude of the Bronco coaching staff, Peyton Manning had the Broncos up 35-28 with just over one minute to go in the game. And then the unthinkable happened.

Then Rahim Moore left the biggest pile of excrement in the history of Denver football on his own five yard line. Rahim Moore makes the stupidest play of any player in this football year, and really any in recent memory, and suddenly we're in overtime. This game does not show Manning's lack of a killer instinct in the playoffs, as some with microphones are saying, not at all. If Rahim Moore has half a damn brain and does the only thing that a safety is supposed to do in this situation, not let any receivers get behind you, we're talking about Manning overcoming everything. We're talking about Manning dispelling the myths of his inability to play in cold weather. Hell, if I were on the field for that one play, and not Rahim Moore, the Broncos would be preparing for the New England Patriots right now.

I say again, Peyton Manning won that game. He won it, until his own team lost it for him.

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