David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
What many people may forget, due to Peyton Manning's amazing start to the 2013 season, is that he is a 37-year-old quarterback who had several neck surgeries over the last few years.
How does this relate to the Broncos' loss to the Patriots?
It relates due to his struggles and the repercussions of his neck surgery during his one-year hiatus from the NFL.
Following the Broncos' loss to the Baltimore Ravens in last season's divisional-round playoff, much was made of Manning's struggles to throw the deep ball, along with his decision to wear a glove on his throwing hand for the first time in his career during the 2012 season.
Via Jeff Legwold of The Denver Post, Manning remarked:
I certainly don't think I would have had to wear the glove had I not been injured last year. It's part of my injury, some things that I've had to adjust. I've been pretty consistent in kind of letting you guys know that all year long, that I'm in a different body, some things are different for me. So I've had to adjust. That's the reason for that as much as anything. That's really kind of what it is.
Legwold goes into detail about Manning's neck surgeries in that same article, stating the following: "Manning had multiple surgeries to repair a disc issue in his neck that caused damage to the nerve grouping that affects his right triceps, which then impacted his ability to grip and throw the ball. He began wearing a glove on his throwing hand first in practice, then later in games as the season wore on."
In Denver's 38-35 loss in the playoffs last season, Peyton struggled in throwing two interceptions—including an interception on his last throw, which led to the game-winning field goal—and, along with his refusal to attempt the deep ball all game long, raised questions about his effectiveness in cold weather during his post-neck surgery career.
In Sunday night's 34-31 loss to the Patriots, Peyton didn't just look different—he looked completely ineffective.
The temperature for the game in Foxboro was under 25 degrees all night, and there wasn't a single drive all game long where the four-time NFL MVP looked like the four-time NFL MVP we've become accustomed to seeing.
Peyton rarely attempted the deep ball all game long, and when he did, the passes were vastly under-thrown.
Although most have indicated Peyton is 100 percent following his neck surgeries of a couple of years ago, the truth is, Manning's struggles in cold-weather games have become obvious—in terms of his ability to grip the football and his ability to throw accurate passes more than 15 yards downfield.
Whether it's due to Manning's history of neck surgeries, or Bill Belichick's ability to make Manning a non-factor, Peyton's issues in cold-weather games are a huge issue for the Broncos.