Say what you will about Peyton Manning. The man may have a funny throwing motion and quite the chain of Denver-area Papa John’s franchises, but he’s always been one of the NFL’s best — and classiest — players.
Manning showed that form again Saturday night after a brutal loss to the Ravens. After Denver had things going its way for most of the game, Baltimore came back to tie the game late, and Broncos coach John Fox chose to let the clock run out and gamble on overtime rather than take shots down the field with Manning with half a minute remaining.
The Broncos certainly had their chances in overtime, but Manning tired and eventually threw a costly interception that set up the Ravens’ game-winning field goal. After a magical season in Denver where Manning rejuvenated his career and the Broncos’ hopes, it was all over quickly, and in the fashion in which it has ended for Manning so many times — a quick playoff loss after a solid regular season, with an interception being a major factor.
Manning didn’t give an on-field interview after the game, but it appears now that the reason he couldn’t be found was more the despair of defeat than bitterness toward the Ravens, who certainly put in enough to deserve the win. Manning instead made a special trip to the Ravens’ locker room later to see Ray Lewis, whose retirement tour gets another stop after the upset win. Manning and Lewis have long been two of the biggest players in the game, and Manning made sure he was there to acknowledge Lewis even after such a rough defeat.
Check out the exchange in the photo below, captured by Chad Steele, the director of media relations for the Ravens. The child in the photo is Manning’s son.
Photo via Twitter/@CSteele32