Broncos’ Osweiler keeps his cool while subbing for Manning
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Nothing seems to bother Brock Osweiler.
Not the incessant Peyton Manning news or his leaky O-line, dropped passes or missed field goals. Not a separated left shoulder, a bum left elbow or an infected left eye.
Not even two-touchdown deficits.
The comeback Osweiler engineered against Cincinnati on Monday night established the Denver Broncos as the only team in NFL history ever to overcome 14-point deficits in one season against three playoff-bound teams.
Two of those came on his watch.
He guided Denver back from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit against New England last month and helped the Broncos (11-4) clinch a playoff spot Monday night after falling behind 14-0 and watching Brandon McManus shank a potential game-winning field goal at the end of regulation.
Osweiler shook off that disappointment just like he keeps brushing off questions about his week-to-week starting status and drove Denver to the go-ahead field goal in overtime before DeMarcus Ware’s fumble recovery sealed it.
"I’ve said all along that it’s part of growing up," coach Gary Kubiak said. "If you’re going to be a good player in this league, you have to block out noise. He’s done a great job of that. I think the team has done a great job of that and rallied behind him. So he just continues, to me, to get better. He’s a good decision-maker right now."
Osweiler has a simple solution to dealing with all the noise.
"I don’t hear it," he said. "I don’t read the newspaper. I don’t turn on ESPN. I don’t turn on NFL Network. A coach once told me — no offense to anybody — `Close your ears to all of that and focus on your job.’"
Osweiler is 4-2 as Denver’s starter and those two losses, against Oakland and Pittsburgh, easily could have been wins were it not for big drops by tight end Vernon Davis and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.
Osweiler shrugged off McManus’ missed field goal just as he’s miniaturized every other obstacle that’s come his way since taking over at quarterback on Nov. 15. He calmly led the Broncos 61 yards in 13 plays for McManus’ redemptive field goal.
"In football, you don’t have time to blink," Osweiler said. "You don’t have time to think about the previous play. In a given football game, there are going to be good plays, there are going to be bad plays. There are going to be touchdowns. Hopefully there’s not too many turnovers. But that’s football."
Osweiler uses that same focus when asked whether he deserves to be the starter in the playoffs.
He said all he’s concerned with is beating the Chargers at home on Sunday to secure a first-round bye and maybe even the top overall seed if New England loses at Miami. That’s something that would ostensibly help Manning in his bid to return to the field this season and send Osweiler back to the sideline.
"I’m not concerned with the quarterback situation," Osweiler said. "I’m going to show up whether I’m the starter or whether I’m the backup. I’m going to prepare the same exact way. I’m going to be the same exact guy in that building regardless of the situation."
Kubiak said he’s seen growth in Osweiler’s input since becoming the starter. "He talks during the game a lot more now than he did in his first two starts: `Kube, I don’t like that, give me this.’ So, that’s where I really see the growth and that’s his confidence in what we’re doing."
Kubiak has already named Osweiler the starter against the Chargers. Manning could return to practice Wednesday night for the first time since Dec. 17. He’s practiced just twice with his teammates in the last 45 days.
Manning issued an angry denial over the weekend regarding Al Jazeera’s report that he obtained HGH in 2011 through shipments to his wife.
Kubiak said he was confident Manning could compartmentalize his emotions and focus on football.
"Oh yeah, absolutely. I know how difficult that is and we stand behind him 100 percent," Kubiak told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "That’s difficult to deal with but he’s been great. He’s focused and was very focused for us last night, did a hell of a job. He helped us out at halftime. So, I have no doubt, no doubt at all."
Notes: ILB Brandon Marshall attended a funeral Tuesday. Kubiak had no update on Marshall’s sprained ankle. … Kubiak said WR Cody Latimer was deactivated against the Bengals because he was ill. … Kubiak said he’s still confident in McManus, who has missed kicks in five straight games.