Steam from Manning’s nostrils not just from cold

Even after coming in from the cold, Peyton Manning was hot.

Following one of the best cold-weather performances by a

quarterback in the past decade, Manning issued an icy retort for

all his critics who say he crumbles in the cold.

He had a salty response to his critics during a postgame

interview with Broncos’ flagship radio station KOA in Denver

following the Broncos’ 51-28 dismantling of the Tennessee Titans on

Sunday.

This after lecturing his receivers when they dropped passes and

getting into some heated discussions with offensive coordinator

Adam Gase on the bench after the Broncos had trouble finishing off

drives.

Manning said it was just the fire the burns in both of their

bellies and ”we were both frustrated when we’re down there close

and have to settle for a field goal.”

They wanted touchdowns to quiet the critics who had been eager

to see how Manning would handle temperatures in the teens.

After all, going into Sunday’s game he had a 3-7 record in

freezing temps, including last year’s home loss to Baltimore in the

playoffs and last month’s loss at New England – defeats that coach

John Fox pointed out last week shouldn’t be pinned on Manning given

the blunders committed by others.

”I think the better he continues to play in the cold, I think

the less chatter there will be about that,” Fox said Monday. ”I

was asked about that before and after. I’m just really glad he’s on

our side. I don’t care about the weather.”

Asked if he likes it when his quarterback – who’s 174-83 in his

career regardless of whether the mercury rises or falls – gets

fired up, Fox said, ”I like him pretty much either way.”

Despite what he had to say on the radio, Manning was more

diplomatic on the podium in his postgame news conference when asked

if he had tried to silence critics of his cold-weather play Sunday

when the Broncos became the first team since the 1970 merger to top

50 points three times in a season.

”Yeah, I wasn’t trying to answer it, because I didn’t give it

validation in the first place,” Manning said. ”We had a good plan

and I thought we threw the ball well and guys caught the ball

well.”

If Manning needs to get his hackles up over something this week,

it’s that the Broncos have a short turnaround. He wasn’t happy

three months ago when the Broncos kicked off the season on a

Thursday night, then didn’t play again for 10 days, followed by a

Monday night game before finally getting into a regular

routine.

Now, they have to play a division game against San Diego

mid-week. When someone asked him how hard it is to condense his

preparation into such a short time frame, Manning retorted, ”I’ve

done it, I’ve played enough Thursday night games where I know the

habit, if that makes sense.”

It’s supposed to be a bit warmer Thursday night, at least.

The temperature at kickoff Sunday was 18 degrees, which many

Broncos said felt downright balmy after practicing in zero degrees

during the week, and Manning certainly wasn’t bothered one bit.

On a clear day with hardly any wind, he threw for 397 yards and

four TDs in the icy conditions. His 39 completions were the most in

franchise history, and just one shy of his career best set at

Houston in 2010.

He also became the first player since Kerry Collins in 2004 at

Denver to throw at least four TD passes with the temperature below

20 degrees and the first QB since Matt Schaub at Green Bay in 2008

to throw for at least 390 yards in sub-20 degree weather.

Any more questions about the cold?

Well, Manning actually had one for media relations manager Erich

Schubert as the still-thawing QB stood in the locker room, a white

towel around his waist and shivering teammates tiptoeing past him,

dripping wet, teeth chattering.

”Hey, didn’t we win the game?” Manning asked. ”There’s cold

water in the shower.”

Notes: Fox said DT Derek Wolfe (illness) will begin working his

way back this week after missing the past two games. … S Rahim

Moore, who underwent surgery on his lower left leg to fix a blood

flow problem last month, will begin lifting weights this week in

hopes he can return during the playoffs.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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