Manning relishes playoff opportunities

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For a guy who has run the highest-scoring offense in the league's history, with a pile of NFL records in tow, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has spent his share of time this season getting asked about what some folks think he can't do.

Make a list, he's probably had the question buzz the tower.

The ones about why some think he can't throw deep like he used to. Or can't play in cold weather. And Wednesday, Manning was confronted with a 9-11 postseason record with eight playoff exits after just one game, a total that includes the Broncos' double-overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens last Jan. 12.

This Sunday -- also Jan. 12, much to the chagrin of many among the Broncos' faithful -- Denver will face the San Diego Chargers in an AFC divisional round game in Sports Authority Field at Mile High. And there is a theory that Manning, with his next-level preparation, may simply grind too hard in the postseason and that's why a quarterback who will waltz into Canton in his first year of eligibility for the Pro Football Hall of Fame has faced so much playoff disappointment.

Manning, however, escaped the rush there, too.

"I don't really believe so," Manning said after Wednesday's practice. "I know people –- It's easy to summarize, to take a whole bunch of football seasons and lump them together. I personally don't see how that, I don't believe in that theory [of] how it works. Each season takes on its own indentity and different things occurred at different parts of my career ... [This season is] it's own chapter ... And looking forward to writing it for a number of more weeks."

Asked if he believed he put too much pressure on himself in postseason situations, Manning said he didn't think so.

"That's not how I feel," Manning said. "I guess everybody has a different theory or analysis ... I look forward to every opportunity."

Manning's 11 postseason losses are tied with Brett Favre for the most in league history, but Manning's postseason yardage total (5,679) and postseason touchdown (32) are fourth and tied for fourth all-time.

And Wednesday, as he has on several occasions during the season, Manning did talk about how he looks at things as a 37-year-old player who returned from four neck surgeries.

He was asked if he still enjoys preparing for the single-elimination format of the postseason.

"I think it depends what attitude you want to approach it with," Manning said. "I mean, if it's just miserable the whole time, then why are you really doing it? I mean, there are other things you can do that you can do that might make you feel less miserable than it's just an absolute grind ... And maybe, as you get older, you think more in those lines, that hey this is a pretty unique opportunity to be in this position, to be one of just a few teams playing. It's going to be a great atmosphere on Sunday, playing a good football team, and there is nothing else I would rather be doing than be in that opportunity."

Manning continued: "That is certainly my goal, to enjoy the preparation, it's not just the games, but to enjoy the preparation part of it, being around the guys. Certainly the light is at the end of the tunnel for me, no question. I think you enjoy these things even more."