Super Bowl 2014: Peyton Manning's Cold-Weather Struggles Are Overblown

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2014

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos looks to pass in the first quarter against the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

Date and Time: Sunday, Feb. 2, at 6:25 p.m. ET

TV: Fox

Live Stream: Fox Sports Go

Spread: Broncos -2.5, per Vegas Insider (as of Jan. 24)

Over/Under: 47, per CBS Sports

There seem to be a lot of media-driven narratives when it comes to Peyton Manning.

For one, questions about his ability to come through in the clutch constantly arise, despite the fact that he has a Super Bowl ring and is arguably one of, if not the best quarterback in the history of the game.

LeBron James shed the majority of the ridiculous “clutch” questions when he won a ring, but Manning still hasn’t completely shaken the label. Grantland’s Bill Barnwell discussed the paradoxical nature of the criticisms surrounding Manning’s ability to come through in the biggest moments:

In the 2009 season, Manning put up an incredible AFC Championship Game performance against the Jets and their top-ranked pass defense, going 26-of-39 for 377 yards with three touchdowns when the average quarterback had gone 16-of-31 for 154 against the Jets that year. It was an incredible clutch performance that somehow didn’t count on Manning’s playoff resume because he then lost to the Saints in the Super Bowl two weeks later.

We heard the same echoes after last year’s loss to the Ravens, and after a dominant game against the Patriots when his team needed him to step up, it’s the same nonsense. Had Manning lost on Sunday, it would have been because Brady owned him and because it was “axiomatic” that Manning loses in big games. Now, even though this contest would have counted as a big game had Manning lost, it won’t count as a big win for Peyton because he now gets to play in the Super Bowl in two weeks.

Another one of the narratives surrounding Manning is that he struggles in cold weather. With the Super Bowl temperatures expected to be in the 20s or 30s with a chance of snow and blustery winds, it’s a narrative clash of clutchness and cold for No. 18.

However, while Manning may not put up the same staggering numbers in the cold that he does when it’s a balmy 65 degrees, his so-called cold weather struggles are overblown. Let some numbers do the talking.

Note: The data presented here is courtesy of SB Nation and Pro Football Reference.

Manning’s production in his last eight games in cold weather (temperatures of 40 degrees or below) is below. A 2010 loss to the Buffalo Bills was not included because Manning was pulled very early (despite a 14-of-18 start in terms of completions), as the Indianapolis Colts were sitting pretty at 14-1.

Peyton Manning in Cold Weather
DateOpponentTemperatureResultCompletionsYardsTDsINTsQB Rating
1/12/12Baltimore13 FL 38-3528-of-432903288.3
12/30/12Kansas City35 FW 38-323-of-2930430144.8
12/9/10Tennessee35 FW 30-2825-of-3531920118.6
11/21/10New England37 FL 31-2838-of-523964396.3
11/30/08Cleveland34 FW 10-615-of-211250246.8
12/9/07Baltimore39 FW 44-2013-of-1724940157.5
12/3/06Tennessee38 FL 20-1721-of-283511298.8
11/5/06New England40 FW 27-2020-of-363262193.1
SB Nation

Sure, the clunker against the Cleveland Browns stands out (hey, at least he won the game), but as a whole, Manning has put up some pretty impressive numbers in recent cold-weather games. He threw for more than 300 yards in five of those contests and at least three touchdowns four times. 

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos looks on against the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Ima
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Manning’s record was 5-3 in that stretch, but it is worth pointing out that six of the eight games came on the road. The fact that his team was playing on the road probably had a bigger impact on the wins and losses than the fact that it was cold.

The thing that jumps out the most about Manning’s recent performances is that he hasn’t seen a fall-off in production as he gets older. Considering the neck surgery he underwent and the fact that he isn’t exactly a spring chicken anymore in the age department, it would only follow logic if Manning struggled as he got older.

However, Manning’s performances on the football field rarely ever follow logic.

Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders points out that the narrative about Manning’s struggles in the cold came at an early stage in his career:

As they say, first impressions really do last a lifetime.

If Manning wins his second Super Bowl ring in the cold of East Rutherford, N.J., at MetLife Stadium, he will officially put to rest the two criticisms that he receives far too often.


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