Peyton Manning was the subject of constant speculation this week centering on his supposed inability to play at a high level in cold temperatures.
The Denver Broncos quarterback quieted the doubters the way he's done it all season -- by putting up monster numbers and leaving the competition scratching their heads and wondering, "How did the old guy with the noodle arm just shred us?"
The final stat line said it all: 39-for-59 for 397 yards through the air with four touchdown passes and zero interceptions -- all done in temperatures that hovered around 15 degrees. After the 51-28 destruction of the Tennessee Titans was complete, Manning had a message for those who suggested he can't get it done when the mercury plummets.
"Whoever wrote that narrative can shove that one where the sun don't shine," he told Denver's KOA-AM after the game. "I felt pretty good out there today."
Manning is a media assassin, born with an innate ability to say much without saying anything at all. That type of answer tells you the talk had perturbed him. Very rarely have we seen his competitive id come through when he's not on the field.
That drive to silence critics may help explain why the Broncos' gameplan was so pass-heavy on a day when the blustery conditions could've called for a more conservative offensive approach.
Instead, Manning chucked it nearly 60 times.
Manning was more, well, Manning-like when he stood at the podium for his postgame press conference.
"I mean, I wasn't trying to answer (the criticism), because I didn't give it any validation in the first place," he said, via The Denver Post. "We had a good plan, and ... guys caught the ball well."
Nice try, Peyton. We know where you stand. The cold-weather narrative has been sent somewhere decidedly non-solar. In a year full of triumphs, this one had to be one of the quarterback's most rewarding.