ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) It’s all fun and games until Peyton Manning gets mad.
Twice in a span of five days, Manning’s attention to detail was on full display, from scripting his own celebration of his record-breaking touchdown throw against San Francisco last weekend to calling out an overly exuberant scoreboard operator during Denver’s 35-21 win over San Diego on Thursday night.
Manning wasn’t happy that he had to hush the fired-up crowd at Sports Authority Field himself while the offense was trying to run out the clock. He also didn’t appreciate the way Philip Rivers was shown on the jumbo screen to draw jeers.
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On Friday, coach John Fox said the scoreboard operator made an honest mistake in trying to fire up the fans during the fourth quarter.
”Look, you’re never perfect. I’m never perfect,” Fox said. ”Our product sometimes comes under attack, and rightfully so. But all it all, it’s about the fans. They have a great experience. Sometimes it’s not perfect. You’re going to make mistakes and that happens.
”We’ve moved on. We had a real big win, a nice big spotlight, and now we’re on to New England.”
The Broncos, like every other team in the league, have enhanced their stadium experience in recent years to combat the big screen TVs that allow many football fans to stay home and watch games from the comfort of their man caves.
In Denver, that includes a giant HD scoreboard in the south end zone that shows facts and figures, retweets and replays – and of course, larger-than-life shots of players on the sideline.
Manning and Rivers were alternately shown Thursday night after Antonio Gates’ TD grab with 9:31 left in the fourth quarter made it a two-touchdown game.
Rivers was shown on his sideline first, and the crowd jeered. He looked up and laughed.
Then, Manning was shown on Denver’s sideline and the crowd cheered.
It went back and forth like that a few times:
”Yea! … Boo! … Yea! … Boo!”
Asked about it after the game, Rivers said: ”I really don’t know how to respond to that other than if you had told me when I was 10 years old they would show me in front of 75,000 and get booed and Peyton on the same clip and get cheered, I’d say that’s pretty awesome.”
Manning said he thought it was disrespectful to Rivers.
The Broncos quarterback had an even bigger problem with the scoreboard operator for showing Denver’s defenders, including Von Miller, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. dancing to ”Jump Around” on the sideline after the 2-minute warning when the Broncos offense was on the field trying to run out the clock.
The fans joined in the fun and were too loud for Manning’s teammates to hear him.
Manning and center Manny Ramirez both motioned for the crowd to be quiet, frantically flapping their arms. Right tackle Paul Cornick was whistled for a false start and Manning could be overheard on the referee’s microphone saying some choice words about that.
Two plays later, Manning had to call a timeout. Then, the drive stalled and the Broncos (6-1) had to punt with 28 seconds left.
Manning was still stewing after the game.
”I’m not sure what he’s doing, he’s playing music and showing players dancing and getting the crowd fired up when we have the ball. I don’t think we should be doing that,” Manning said. ”I don’t think we should be showing their quarterback on the sideline. I thought that was disrespectful.”
The Broncos certainly took their quarterback’s complaints to heart while also coming to the defense of the scoreboard operator.
”I think you take everything seriously, but at the end of the day, it’s not going to be perfect,” Fox said. ”There are people working really hard. We’re all trying to do what’s best for the organization and sometimes it’s not perfect. That’s the way of life.”
You can bet the next time Manning has the ball in the closing minutes in Denver, however, that the only thing on the giant screen will be the team’s animated mascot ”Thunder” admonishing the crowd to ”Shh!”
Notes: S Rahim Moore’s sideline exchange with Fox after his interception with five minutes remaining led to speculation the two were at odds. That wasn’t the case. ”It was a heck of a play. He was pretty exuberantly telling me, `That’s why you drafted me!”’ Fox said. … LB Brandon Marshall got a game ball for his team-high 10 tackles and a pass breakup.
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