Manning not worried about Meadowlands cold

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has a 4-7 record when the temperature at kickoff is below 32 degrees. He threw two interceptions in a frigid playoff loss to Baltimore last season.
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has a 4-7 record when the temperature at kickoff is below 32 degrees. He threw two interceptions in a frigid playoff loss to Baltimore last season. (Associated Press)
Posted: January 28, 2014

JERSEY CITY, N.J. - Whether he deserves them or not, Peyton Manning can't escape questions about his poor record in cold-weather games.

With this year's Super Bowl being played outdoors at nearby MetLife Stadium, the Denver Broncos quarterback was sure to be asked about the wintry conditions - rain, sleet, snow, and a below-freezing temperature at kickoff - in the forecast for this Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks.

In fact, it took all of three questions before the topic was broached during the Broncos' first news conference aboard the Cornucopia Majesty docked at the Hyatt Jersey City on Sunday. But the question focused more on Manning's positive feelings than on his 4-7 mark when the temperature at kickoff is below 32 degrees.

"I needed to face different circumstances with my new surroundings, with my new physical state," Manning said, referencing his recovery last season from neck surgery and his leaving the Indianapolis Colts. "In two years I feel like we've seen a lot as far as on-the-field situations, weather, crowd noise, you name it, with this team . . . so I do feel comfortable."

Manning was hardly the reason the Broncos were knocked out in the divisional round in a frigid, double-overtime loss to Baltimore a year ago, but he wasn't his typically accurate self either. He completed 28 of 43 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns with a Denver game-time temperature of 13 degrees. But he also tossed two interceptions, including one in overtime.

However, Manning considered the game a bit of a breakthrough because he had only just started wearing a glove on his throwing hand. He even went so far a day later as to look ahead to this year's Super Bowl and say how the experience of that loss could buoy his confidence if the Broncos were to advance as far.

And they did, after Manning's record-setting run through the regular season and victories over the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots in the postseason. He did it wearing a glove the entire way. He did it winning his fourth game in subfreezing conditions when Denver spanked the Titans, 51-28, in December and Manning threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns.

"Whoever wrote that [cold-weather failure] narrative," Manning said on a Denver radio station after the game, "can shove that one where the sun don't shine."

One reporter Sunday asked Manning how he could use the winter weather to his advantage and he seemed dumbfounded.

"I'm not real sure," he said. "I don't really know the answer to that one."

The Broncos, who will practice at the New York Jets facility in Florham Park, N.J., already seemed tired of the cold-weather questions.

"I've seen him throw for a lot of yards in bad weather," Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker said.

Coach John Fox said he hadn't yet decided if he would have his team practice indoors or outdoors this week. He mentioned the field conditions being the primary factor. But Manning said the Broncos practiced outside in Denver all last week "and I would think that would be the plan this week."

Manning played at MetLife in September when the Broncos handled his brother, Eli, and the New York Giants, 41-23. But the weather wasn't a factor that day. Manning said he has had conversations with Eli about playing at his home field in difficult conditions.

A win Sunday would give Manning as many titles as his brother (two), but for some, it would settle any debate that he is the greatest NFL quarterback of all time.

Some have even wondered if Manning would walk off into retirement with another ring. He mentioned two players - Broncos executive and former quarterback John Elway and former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis - as two all-timers who were able to walk away after a Super Bowl win.

"They couldn't play anymore. That was all they had to give," Manning said. "They truly left it all out there. I've certainly had a career change two years ago with my injury, with changing teams, so I truly have been kind of a one-year-at-a-time basis. So I really have no plans after this game.

"I certainly want to continue to keep playing."


jmclane@phillynews.com

@Jeff_McLane

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