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Peyton Manning blames himself, four interceptions for loss to Bengals

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There haven’t been many games like the one on Monday night during Peyton Manning’s Hall of Fame career. And the Denver Broncos signal-caller understands woeful performances like the one he put up in Denver’s 37-28 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals won’t get the job done in an NFL regular season game, much less in the playoffs.

Manning passing stats in Monday night’s loss were as follows: 28-for-44 passing for 311 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions, one of which was a pick-six in the fourth quarter by Dre Kirkpatrick. The Bengals defensive back’s scamper to the end zone proved to be the backbreaking play of the game, and gave the Bengals a 37-28 lead with less than three minutes remaining in the game.

“That’s definitely a throw you can’t make in that situation,” Manning said of the early Christmas present he gift-wrapped for Kirkpatrick, per The Denver Post.

Manning knows all too well that the uncharacteristic manner in which he cared for the football is simply unacceptable.

“Four interceptions … You’re not going to beat very many good football teams,” he said. “We did some good things in the third quarter to give ourselves a chance, and had the lead in the fourth, but field position wasn’t very good — we couldn’t flip it — and then turning it over.”

The Broncos, after staking the Bengals a 20-7 halftime lead, scored 21 points to Cincy’s seven in the third quarter, two on touchdowns to receiver Emmanuel Sanders, to take a one-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

But Denver was outscored 10-0 the rest of the way, seven of those points coming straight off the arm of Manning.

We have to find a way to learn from this,” Manning said after the game.

While time is running short, the Broncos still can clinch the AFC’s No. 2 seed with a home win over the Oakland Raiders next Sunday, giving the team a first-round bye.

Lose to the Raiders, and the Broncos put themselves in a precarious position, one that seems even more dire given the awful performance from Manning on Monday.

Broncos head coach John Fox tried to allay any concerns that the Broncos may be falling apart at the worst time possible. After all, the team was on a four-game winning streak before Monday’s debacle.

“I learned a long time ago it doesn’t matter how you start the race it’s how you finish,” he said, via The Denver Post. “We’ll step back from tonight, we’ll learn from it, we’ll analyze and decipher went wrong and hopefully get it fixed.”

Questions abound about the Denver Broncos heading into the postseason, but the one that should be causing the team’s fans the  most concern is if Father Time may be finally catching up to its 38-year-old quarterback. Manning has been solid all season, but the switch from incredibly effective, if not dominant, quarterback to an aging liability can occur in an instant … or over the period of a four-interception game on a cool Cincinnati night.

(GIF via SB Nation)