Baby, it’s cold outside: Peyton Manning’s struggles with the weather

This week, Champaign saw its first snowfall of the year. Some people never get to see snow. Peyton Manning has seen snow, and must be wishing he never sees it again.

See, the NFL’s best quarterback is bad when it comes to poor weather. His teams are 0-4 in playoff games with a game-time temperature below 35 degrees. Manning and his Broncos aren’t coming to play in Champaign anytime soon, but the colder weather is a reminder that he better start figuring things out if the Broncos are to capitalize on their record-setting offense in the postseason, when temperatures go much lower than they are now.

Manning’s numbers during those four games mirror the career numbers of Caleb Hanie, his backup last season. In those four games, Manning has completed 56 percent of his passes, compared with Hanie’s 50.9 percent for his career. In those four games, Manning has thrown four touchdowns and nine interceptions, while Hanie threw for three and 10, respectively, during his illustrious career. Manning’s quarterback rating for those four games is 56.7, while Hanie’s career mark was 41.6.

So Manning’s not far off the mark of Hanie? Gross.

Broncos fans might have cause for some worry.

True, Manning does have a Super Bowl ring, but he won that in season where the coldest playoff game he played was in Baltimore, where it was a balmy 54 degrees in the middle of January. In that divisional playoff game, Manning couldn’t throw for a touchdown, tossed two picks and survived only because Adam Vinatieri is the greatest postseason kicker in the history of the sport (he made five field goals).

The greatest quarterbacks ever have been defined by postseason moments. Tom Brady, Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana have all won multiple Super Bowl MVP awards. Brett Favre threw two huge touchdowns in Super Bowl XXXI and has a pretty iconic photograph to go with his Super Bowl ring. Steve Young put up the greatest statistical performance the Super Bowl has ever seen in Super Bowl XXIX, throwing for six touchdowns and over 300 yards.

No quarterback, however, is more relevant to Manning than John Elway. He is the benchmark for success in Denver, and every quarterback since has been unable to measure up. Elway is the one who signed Manning and is the only team executive that is shown on every single Broncos’ broadcast. Elway lost his first three Super Bowls but came back to win his final two. His helicopter dive is the most famous play in Denver history.

All things considered, Manning will have to play in the cold if the Broncos make the playoffs this year (and they almost definitely will). Only one team with a winning record in the AFC plays in a dome, and that is Manning’s old team, the Indianapolis Colts.

Would it be poetic justice for Manning to lose a playoff game indoors at Indianapolis to his old team? Perhaps it might.

At the end of Manning’s career, he will certainly be remembered as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, but is it fair to tab him as the greatest? Dan Marino, despite his statistical dominance, is often bumped down lists of top quarterbacks because of his lack of playoff success.

Manning has his ring, but to solidify his legacy and move him into contention for the Greatest of All Time belt, he needs another. 

Peter is a freshman in Media. He can be reached at baileyw2@dailyillini.com Follow him on Twitter @pbaileywells22.