I'm not even sure I should write about this. So, let's just keep it between you and me.
I think Peyton Manning is Karma-proof.
There, I said it. Not with a full measure of conviction, but I did say it.
I was 17 when I first started believing in the power of Rooting with Karma. If you don't know, Karma is the daughter of the great Rooting family parents Uncle Mo and Auntie Mentum. They are cousins of Destiny, who is known for her work in the world of baseball no-hitters.
I had begun the practice of decorating the family den with all my Broncos paraphernalia any time they were on national TV (a big deal living in Connecticut at the time). That year I started making changes when things weren't going well. You probably know the drill. When things are going well for your team, you stay in the same seat, you don't take phone calls, you don't allow family members into the room and those who were there at the start aren't allowed to leave the room. if things are going poorly, you take off hats or shirts with the team logo on them, you move the remote control from the left side of the armchair to the right, whatever it takes. Sometimes your actions only work for a while, other times not at all, but occasionally they go the distance and alter entire games. You also have to take into consideration that thousands of other fans, for your team and the team your playing against, are also trying their own tricks, so there are a lot of Karmatic elements in motion. But when it all goes right (like on my knees, holding hands with my 9-year old as overtime started in the Steelers-Broncos playoff game last year), how sweet it is.
Among my more memorable Karma moments:
Game 6 1999 NLCS- The Mets trail the Braves 7-3 in the top of the 7th, down three games to two. John Smoltz comes in in relief and I decide it's a good time to relieve myself. So as I place myself upon the throne, I can't see the TV but I can kind of hear it. Franco doubles. Henderson doubles. Alfonso flies to right. My business is done, but there is a rally underway, so I stay fastened to the potty like Sgt. Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon 2. Now I am leaning forward, sticking my head out the bathroom door, trying to hear the game better. Olerud single. Piazza homer! You know how hard it is to jump off a toilet with your pants around your ankles? The next two batters made outs and I was finally able to leave the bathroom. Now, in retrospect, maybe I should have stayed in there as the Mets went on to lose 10-9, but I felt like, at least for that inning, I did my duty (and my dooty).
Super Bowl 32- Before the game had started I banished my wife to the upper level of our condo. No interruptions. Late in the first half Denver is up 17-7 and Green Bay has the ball deep in their own territory. My wife asks if she can come down for a minute. She needs to do something in the kitchen. I acquiesce and down she comes. Well, bing-bam-boom, the Packers march down the field and score right before the half ends. I order my wife back upstairs, where she remains as the Broncos went on to win their first title.
I know I'm not the only one who believes in this stuff. Last year during the Bears/Broncos game I tweeted that I was moving to the roof to watch the rest of the game when the Broncos were down 10-0. As things started going Denver's way people started imploring me to stay on the roof. There were multiple moments like that last season. With each remarkable comeback it felt like a higher power was involved. Rooting with Karma was a way of life for Broncos fans last year, in large part because we felt like we needed it to win games.
That brings us to this year and Peyton Manning. The Monday night comeback against San Diego (overcoming a 24-point halftime deficit) was the one game where I recall thinking "Stay where you are, keep doing what you are doing." What I was doing was playing Bejeweled Blitz on my computer, with my feet up on the desk. By the end of the game my back and hands were killing me, but it was worth it. But during the Broncos 11-game win streak that began that night, Denver has dominated, winning all the games by at least a touchdown. It's been during these last two months that I began to wonder, "Does it really matter what I do?" You non-believers would say "of course it doesn't matter" but for us believers it is a legit question. Peyton Manning plays at such a high level that it seems silly to even try and influence what happens on the field. I admit the Broncos haven't played a great collection of teams during the streak, but even when things were a little shaky I knew Peyton would make the right adjustments and things would be fine. No need to change shirts or seats or children in the room at the half. Just wait for Manning to "Buffalo!" here, "Hurry! Hurry!" there and throw in an "Orange barrel. Re-route!" for good measure and all will be fine.
It's been odd in that regard. Such a cheering dichotomy from a year ago. It's really rather comforting.
Until the playoffs start. That will be the true test. I can't imagine the Broncos being down in a game and me not wanting to make changes. Move to an new chair? Put on a different jersey? Or will my trust in Peyton overpower my need to tweak Karma? Time will tell. Meanwhile, If Peyton wants to keep on making Karma and her family distant relatives, I'm all for it.
The Road to New Orleans goes through Denver. The only team in the AFC field the Broncos didn't face in the regular season? His old team the Colts. They will likely come to Denver if they can win in Baltimore next weekend. In his Colts career, Manning played two playoff games against the Broncos. He put up 90 points, 9 touchdowns and 835 yards on 49-59 passing. It would be nice for Peyton to make the Colts fans feel that same helpless feeling as they are being dissected pass-by-pass.
The Patriots are the only team that truly scares me. Houston has really been a different team thanks to some key injuries. The Broncos are a much better team since they lost to the Texans in week 3. Cincinnati and Indy will have trouble winning on the road. Baltimore is too inconsistent. The Patriots are great and they know what it takes to win in the playoffs. While Denver's defense has been excellent, and they are playing well at every position, we have not really seen them go against a quality offense since the Saints in week 8. They have also been playing with the lead a lot. Since the Chargers comeback game, they've had the halftime lead in every game but one. The Bengals game was the only one in the last ten they needed to come from behind in the 4th quarter. It remains to be seen how they will handle a 7-point deficit in the 3rd quarter when they need to get the other team off the field. I'm not sure I completely trust them to get the Patriots O off the field in a big spot.
I watched a bunch of old Broncos playoff games this past week. It reminded me just how awesome a home field advantage Mile High Stadium was for the Broncos. Here's hoping we can get back to that level of insanity in the weeks to come.