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Peyton Manning mum on retirement, still confident

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Peyton Manning may have acknowledged to close friends that he expects Sunday's game to be his last, but he wasn't not about to let the media run with that theme at Super Bowl 50 Opening Night.

Manning told NFL Media's Marshall Faulk that he doesn't know the answer to the retirement question.

"One thing I think I've done well this season, this team has done well this season, is stay in the moment, focus on the task at hand, take it one week at a time," Manning quipped. "There's about 10 other cliches you could use right there, but it truly has served me well in the unique season that has occurred this year with the injuries -- and it's just been different for me.

"Not looking too far ahead, not looking too far back has really helped me. I am excited about this week and looking forward to playing in this game. And I'm going to focus on that and deal with all of the other stuff after this."

Coach Gary Kubiak has emphasized enjoying the moment this week. Seeing Owen Daniels so excited about his first Super Bowl has reminded the 39-year-old quarterback that he should be enjoying his fourth appearance in the league's showcase event.

"I'm certainly honored to be here," Manning added. "... I feel like I have a good understanding of the significance of playing in the 50th Super Bowl. It's a unique and special opportunity -- and obviously we want to take advantage of it."

While Manning stiff-armed retirement talk, he did address his post-game moment with Patriots coach Bill Belichick after the AFC Championship Game.

"That was not pre-planned. It was a spontaneous reaction," Manning explained. "Sometimes you just want to tell someone something man to man -- it's better than via text or a handwritten letter or seeing them at a banquet. I told Brady the same thing previous to telling Belichick. And I understand there's people out there, but what I said is true -- this could be it and I'm aware it could be it.

"I wanted to tell both of them. I really have enjoyed these games, it's been part of my football life. ... Hey -- Brady's gonna play until he's 70, Belichick is gonna coach till he's 90, maybe I hit the fountain of youth in the next couple months and play the next 10 years. Maybe we play in 10 more championships against each other. But in case we don't, I took the time to shake their hands, look them in the eye and I'm glad I did it. It was important to me that I knew that."

Two years removed from a record-breaking season as the most productive quarterback in NFL history, the former gunslinger understands he's no longer the quickest draw in the West.

"No doubt my role has been different this year," Manning said. "... I'm in a different offense, I haven't been 100 percent healthy all season, can't make some of the same throws, the same plays I used to, but I can still move the chains. Kind of like ol' Toby Keith said it: Maybe I'm not as good as I once was, but I can be good once as I ever was."

Now accepting of his game-manager role, Manning also conceded that Wade Phillips' top-ranked defense is the reason the Broncos are in the Super Bowl.

One member of that defense seems convinced this is indeed Manning's last rodeo.

"We have a chance to send him out on top," Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib said. "That's special."

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