Peyton Manning’s reaction was seen live during ESPN’s “Manningcast” with his brother Eli and special guest Shannon Sharpe. They watched with reactions ranging from disbelief to silent horror when Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett, in his first game as NFL head coach, took the ball from Russell Wilson’s hands as the game was on the line.
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Instead of Wilson, the former Seahawks quarterback for whom the Broncos traded three players and a wealth of draft picks to Seattle in March to try and convert the fourth and five of the Seattle 46, Hackett let the game clock run down and took then one of his three timeouts remaining with 20 seconds left on the game clock, Brandon sent McManus out to attempt a 64-yard field goal that would have won the game. The ball went wide left, sending the Broncos home on the wrong side of a 17-16 score.
The whole series was crazy for Peyton Manning. “I think we should call a timeout, like now,” he said, writhing in his chair with just over 50 seconds left in the game.
Sharpe, the former Broncos tight end, was Mannings’ guest for the latter part of the game and lost his mind, mostly because Wilson didn’t aim for the tight end. At one point, almost cursing and making Eli Manning concerned, he yelled, “Shannon is making me nervous.”
It was a mind-boggling head coaching debut for Hackett, who chose not to put the ball in the hands of a nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback and one-time Super Bowl winner — the man who gave the team a five-year contract extension worth $245 million. gave this month.
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Instead of asking Wilson, who had thrown 340 yards, to throw (or run) five more, he went with a kicker whose best field goal of his career was 61 yards. It almost worked.
“He has this. He’s got this,” Sharpe said before kick, pointing out that McManus’ first kick attempt before Seattle called a timeout had hooked. When it missed, he added: “I told them to start it right upright and it would hook right in.”
Eli Manning pointed out, “Shannon is undefeated in naming what they should have done.”
Sharpe replied, “Eli, you heard me say, ‘Start on the right,’ because he crocheted the first one, so start on the right. But he didn’t start enough.”
Peyton Manning watched in silence, letting his collapsing body language tell the story, along with a remorseful smile and shaking of the head. As the brothers signed off, he predicted, “The Broncos will be fine.”
Earlier in the show, he took a little dip in kickers when Eli Manning asked when they had their position meetings. “They don’t,” Peyton burst out. “There are no meeting rooms for kickers. They do not exist.”
During the ESPN game broadcast, analyst Troy Aikman predicted that the series “will not be a good fit for Russell Wilson” at the end of the game. And ESPNs Ryan Clark tweeted“I’m not paying $256 million to have my kicker kick a 64-yard field goal on the 4th and 5th.”
But Wilson, who was booed in his first game back at Lumen Field, was diplomatic about the matter, praising McManus as “perhaps the best field goal kicker in the game.”
Nor did he intend to throw Hackett, who had been hired after two seasons as Green Bay’s offensive coordinator, under a bus.
“I believe in Coach Hackett,” he said. “I believe in what we do. I believe in everything. Anytime you can find a way to play on the fourth and the five, that’s great too. But I don’t think it was the wrong decision either. I think he can make it. In hindsight, of course, we didn’t make it. But if we get into that situation again, I wouldn’t doubt whatever he decided.”
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