Peyton Manning has unfinished business in postseason
BY Lindsay H. Jones USA Today January 11, 2014 5:49PM
For all his eye-catching statistics, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is only 9-11 in his career in the playoffs. | AP
Updated: February 13, 2014 6:37AM
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It always has been easy to link Peyton Manning’s career to statistics. This year, especially.
For all the touchdown passes (56) and passing yards (5,477) he collected, and for all the points the Denver Broncos scored (606) — each of those numbers an NFL record — there’s another mark that overshadows all others.
Manning’s postseason record in 14 seasons is 9-11. That includes eight losses in which his team failed to advance beyond their first playoff game.
As Manning prepares to lead the Broncos into their AFC divisional playoff game against the San Diego Chargers, his winning-time failures can’t be ignored.
Despite Manning’s cognizance of his NFL history, he was adamant that his past means little now.
“I know it’s easy to summarize — to take a whole bunch of football seasons and lump them together. I don’t personally believe in that theory,” Manning said. “Each season takes on its own identity, and different things occurred along the way at different points in my career. In anybody’s career. This is the 2013 season, and it’s its own chapter. We’re looking forward to writing it for a number of more weeks.”
This is the week the Broncos have been waiting for since their 38-35 double-overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round a year ago. His success over 16 regular-season games in 2013 was exciting, Manning said. But the Broncos have not hid the way they have used last season’s playoff disappointment as motivation.
It came up during weightlifting and conditioning sessions in April, and in training-camp practices in August, and in countless practices throughout the regular season.
“Last year we went on a little run there, and I don’t know if we got comfortable, but we didn’t finish,” receiver Eric Decker said. “We were hungry this year as far as coming into the offseason, coming into training camp, making sure that when we play, we finish everything.”
As Manning stood in front of a large group of reporters, still wearing his shoulder pads and orange practice jersey, there was no sign of a player who has tightened up since the calendar flipped to January. Manning cracked a few jokes and said he is determined to enjoy everything about this trip.
“If it’s just miserable this whole time, then why are you doing it?” Manning said. “Maybe as you get older you think more along the lines of, this is a unique opportunity, to be in this position, to be one of just a few teams playing.”