After torching the Tennessee Titans' defense on a frigid afternoon in Denver, Peyton Manning had a message to his critics: "Shove it."
With a kickoff temperature of 18 degrees at Mile High on Sunday, Manning threw for 397 yards with four touchdowns against no interceptions in the Broncos' 51-28 win. His 39 completions established a new franchise record. Manning certainly could have let his record-setting play do the talking, but he couldn't resist taking a swipe at those who questioned his ability to perform in cold weather.
"Whoever wrote that narrative can shove that one where the sun don't shine," Manning told Denver radio station 850 KOA when asked about the cold after the win. "So, I felt pretty good out there today."
Entering the Broncos' Week 14 game with the Titans, Manning had a 3-7 career record, including playoffs, in games in which the kickoff temperature was 32 degrees or below, according to The Associated Press. The oft-revisited criticism of Manning's cold-weather performances heated up after the Broncos squandered a 24-point lead against the New England Patriots on Nov. 24 on a frigid night at Foxborough, Mass.
“Peyton Manning’s problems in the cold are very real," Albert Breer of the NFL Network told Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb on their Boston radio show after the Pats' 34-31 win over Peyton's Broncos. "That exists and has existed for a long time."
Such criticism has existed going back to Manning's days playing home games in a dome with the Indianapolis Colts. Manning will likely need to duplicate his masterful performance against the Titans in similar conditions during the postseason to change minds around the NFL. Still, Breer noticed his high output on Sunday amid the low temperatures and credited the four-time NFL MVP.
Credit to Peyton Manning for answering all of us who questioned his ability to win in bad weather. Big-time performance tonight.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 9, 2013
Manning's latest big-time performance also established a new NFL record: This was his seventh four-touchdown game of the season, which topped the previous mark set by Dan Marino in 1984 and matched by Manning in 2004, reported the Elias Sports Bureau. All together, Manning has already thrown 45 touchdowns during the 2013 campaign and is closing in on Tom Brady's all-time single-season record of 50 touchdown passes set in 2007.