MCMANUS IS COOL UNDER PRESSURE
Broncos kicker Brandon McManus played for Temple in Philadelphia, known for massive snowstorms. He had never kicked in conditions like Sunday’s.
“It was the worst wind that I have had in my career at any level,” McManus said. “In warmups there was zero wind. Then I come back out five minutes before the game and it’s howling 30 mph wind. I had to learn quickly what it was going to do.”
McManus said Thursday’s practice in adverse conditions accelerated his adjustment. McManus on Sunday set a Broncos postseason record and tied the NFL postseason mark with five field goals. His 51-yarder tied Jason Elam (Super Bowl XXXII against Green Bay on Jan. 25, 1998) for the second-longest in Broncos postseason history. He then iced the game with a 45yarder that was unexpected.
“There was a lot of confusion. We were told we were punting, but that last gain put it in position, so we ran out there. We were scrambling,” McManus said. “But we did it. It was so rushed, there was no time to think about it.”
Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips can take a hit. Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant smashed into Phillips when pushed out of bounds, leaving Phillips on his back in the second quarter. After a brief examination by the trainers, Phillips returned to work.
“I wanted to get up and retaliate, but I didn’t want to pay the $10,000 fine,” Phillips joked. “I am sure I will be sore.”
The Broncos on Friday crossed off an important free agent by securing defensive end Derek Wolfe on a four-year, $36.75 million contract with $17.5 million guaranteed. What does that mean for Broncos defensive end Malik Jackson? He has placed himself in the $10 millionper-season range with a breakout year. The Broncos have made him a priority, but keeping the former fifth-round pick will prove challenging.
The Broncos entered the game healthy, but with lingering issues. As linebacker Brandon Marshall recovers from an ankle sprain, inside linebacker Danny Trevathan played more in coverage. Marshall ranks among the league’s top linebackers on passing downs, however, he is only three weeks removed from his injury against the Bengals. For Marshall, Sunday’s victory represented redemption. He was limited in last season’s playoff loss because of a foot injury.
“This is why you play. This is what we have worked for,” Marshall said.
Commish in attendance.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell visited longtime Broncos owner Pat Bowlen at his home in the morning before attending the game.
In his first game since suffering a hamstring injury Dec. 6, Omar Bolden returned the first punt 42 yards to set up Denver’s opening field goal. But he hurt his knee on a Denver punt later in the first quarter and did not return. Bolden said after the game he suffered a noncontact ligament knee injury. Doctors told him it was loose and he’s scheduled for an magnetic resonance imaging test Monday. He said it didn’t look good, but he is hoping that the test results are good.
Reserve cornerback Kayvon Webster made a day out of his specialteams play. First, an athletic save to knock a Broncos punt back in play saved a touchback. The ball ended up on the Steelers’ 3-yard line. Webster followed it up with two hard hits on punt returner Markus Wheaton as he touched the ball. The second contributed to a muffed punt.
Quarterback Peyton Manning (offense), outside linebacker Von Miller (defense) and inside linebacker Todd Davis (special teams) were selected as the Broncos’ game-day captains. ... 76,956 tickets were purchased for Sunday’s game. Only 79 tickets went unused.