Last night the Indianapolis Colts went to Mile High stadium and, in winning out 24-13, ended the Denver Broncos' hopes of reaching the Super Bowl.
As well as putting pay to Denver's 2014 season the victory could also have bigger ramifications concerning the future of Peyton Manning judging by the veteran quarterback's comments in the aftermath of the loss.
Speaking soon after the game Manning appeared to perform a u-turn on previous comments he made in December 2014 in which he seemed to commit to returning for the Broncos in 2015.
"Um, yeah, I guess I just can't give that simple answer," responded Manning on Sunday night when asked directly if he would be back for the Broncos next season.
"I'm processing it. I can't say that. I could not say that."
These comments, albeit coming so soon after what was clearly an emotional occasion, contrast sharply with Manning's answer to a similar question prior to Denver's final game of the regular season leading to fears for Manning fans that his time in the NFL could be up.
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Back then Manning said he "certainly planned on being back," adding that he had no thoughts on retirement at that point.a
Clearly though that opinion has altered, at least for the time being.
Times are changing
Sunday night, Manning finally looked like his 38 years were catching up with him - certain plays even bringing about a chorus of boos from the Broncos faithful - as he failed to lead the team to victory.
It has also emerged today that the five-time NFL MVP played much of the season with a torn right quad - and with his infamous neck injury requiring annual reappraisal - perhaps Manning is beginning to contemplate life away from the gridiron.
With a stacked roster the 2014 season was the best opportunity for the future Hall of Famer to add a second Super Bowl ring but, as he contemplates a long offseason, he must also be aware that 17 players are heading for restricted or unrestricted free agency.
The likes of Demaryius and Julius Thomas (two key figures on his offense) could be gone not to mention Manning's current offensive coordinator in Denver.
Adam Gase has already interviewed with the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers and is looking increasingly likely to head for a head coaching role for the 2015 season.
After Sunday's defeat there are certainly a lot of questions facing the Broncos franchise. What answers Denver fans get come the start of the 2015 season is anyone's guess but for now at least, they might want to start preparing for life beyond Peyton Manning.
What do you think Denver fans? Is it time for Manning to retire or, after the heat has died down from Sunday's game, can he come back for one more season? Let us know in the comments section below...
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