The Denver Broncos may have realized their biggest fear Sunday night.
Yes, the men from the Mile High City beat the San Diego Chargers 28-20 in southern California, but at what cost?
During the game, quarterback Peyton Manning was hit multiple times, with a sack-fumble in the second quarter after Tourek Williams blew past backup-turned-starting tackle Chris Harris and another sack by linebacker Larry English.
But the biggest hit came at the end of the game, within the final two minute warning. As the Broncos were trying to run the clock out, up eight points, Manning dropped back and threw the ball to Demaryius Thomas for what would be the team’s final first down of the contest.
But when he did, Corey Liuget grabbed Manning’s ankles, falling with all his 300 pounds on the 37-year old quarterback’s legs. A brunt of the weight seemed to come down on Manning’s right leg specifically, which is not the one that is supported by the big and bulky knee brace.
Manning stood up, hobbled around, and then went back to the ground; all of Denver gasped.
He sat there for a minute or two while Steve Antonopulos and other Broncos trainers ran to his side, and then once Manning stood up, he limped over to referees and argued Liuget went after his legs. The “Tom Brady Rule” says defenders aren’t allowed to attack quarterbacks low, and it seems this play shows why.
After the game, Manning told reporters, “It’s pretty sore,” and the star quarterback will have an MRI to determine internal damage of his leg. While initial reports said he injured the right ankle, others are saying it’s the knee; anything significant would end the Broncos’ hopes of winning a Super Bowl this season.
Results are expected to come in Monday morning as the Broncos organization waits in anticipation.
Rich Kurtzman is cover32’s Denver Broncos Managing Editor. Follow Rich on Twitter (@RichKurtzman).