ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With the forecast calling for temperatures in the 30s for Sunday's AFC divisional-round game between the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the LFN is again rearing its head.
As in Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning's "Least Favorite Narrative."
Cold-weather playoff games have not been kind to Manning in his Hall of Fame career. Whether the reason is more opponent-based than a climate concern, the fact remains in playoff games when the kickoff temperature has been 40 degrees or colder, Manning's teams are 0-5. A variety of forecasts, including AccuWeather's, predict the temperatures to be between 35 and 38 degrees for the 2:40 p.m. MT kickoff and dropping slightly as the game progresses.
Sunday's game will be Manning's first start since Nov. 15, when he was pulled from the Broncos' loss to the Kansas City Chiefs after his fourth interception. Manning had been bothered by a left foot injury for much of the season and suffered a tear in the plantar fascia near his left heel in the Broncos' loss to the Indianapolis Colts a week before.
Manning's 0-5 postseason record includes the Broncos' loss to the Colts last January when the entire roster looked listless. Manning was 26-of-46 passing for 211 yards and a touchdown. As Manning dealt with a thigh injury, the Colts forced him to throw the ball deep down the sidelines, and the Broncos offense was largely unable to consistently move the ball.
In his five playoffs games that kicked off at 40 degrees or colder, Manning has thrown five touchdown passes and nine interceptions. Manning's teams have also been outscoted 147-65 in those games. Two of those five losses came in Broncos home games -- last January's loss to the Colts and the overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round to close out the 2012 season.
"We'll play any time. All of that stuff doesn't matter," cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. "It's how you play, everybody, defense, offense, everybody."
Much like talking about his recovery from neck surgery, or injuries in general, or why he will or won't wear a glove on his throwing hand, the cold-weather topic is not one of Manning's favorites.
After the Broncos defeated the Tennessee Titans, 51-28, in Week 14 of the 2013 season -- temperature at kickoff was 18 degrees and Manning threw for 397 yards to go with four touchdowns -- Manning told the team's flasgship radio station that "whoever wrote that narrative can shove it where the sun don't shine."
Earlier in the same week that season, former Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase answered a question about Manning's cold-weather play: "I've only been around him two years, but the thing that pisses me off more than anything is I don't want anybody else as my quarterback. I'm going to go in with him every Sunday. It's a great feeling to have when you've got him back there. You know your chances of winning are pretty good. When you don't have a guy like that, and I've been in that spot a lot, and that [expletive]. So I'll take [Manning] any day of the week."