FOXBORO — The last time Peyton Manning was in Foxboro last December, his team got spanked in similar fashion (31-24), but saved face with three farcical fourth quarter touchdowns against the always undependable Bill Belichick prevent defense.
The only difference was last December Manning wore khakis and sneakers during the game (he was out with a neck injury) and afterward he got to meet his nemesis’ wife, Gisele Bundchen. It was the “aw shucks” Peyton who has grown on us a little bit.
Heck, last December Manning even commented how nice New Englanders were to him before, during and after the game.
Well, last night, that Manning was nowhere near the building, at least when he was leaving. This was the Manning we’ve seen so many times, particuarly after a loss here in Foxboro. The guy who really and truly hates losing. Especially to the Patriots. You know, the guy with a scowl.
He had reason to be not-so-cordial.
He was pretty good for the most of the game, which wasn’t good enough. And by the time he looked like Manning of four or five years ago, it was too late.
When it was apparent the Broncos were finished, several thousand fans, in unison, chanted “TEE-Bow! TEE-Bow!” They were obviously mocking Manning and the crazy history with Broncos franchise had with Tim Tebow the last two years.
In the end, Manning and the Denver Broncos lost 31-21, but the game wasn’t that close. Worse, for most of the game it appeared to be teams at two different levels.
The Broncos are now 2-3, and 1-3 against “Super Bowl contenders.” While they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers to open the season (31-19), they have lost disappointing games to the Atlanta Falcons (27-21), Houston Texans (31-25) and now the Patriots.
“I know they’ve been great teams,” said Manning, about the losses. “It still doesn’t make it any easier. It’s disappointing.”