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Rossi: Timing is perfect for Manning's last shot

| Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, 10:45 p.m.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Maybe he can't fling it deep anymore. Doesn't mean Peyton Manning is done taking his shots.

And the Steelers had sure better hope Manning doesn't carve their secondary Sunday as coolly as he sliced the soon-to-be-shuttered Al Jazeera America network Wednesday.

“I'm sure it's going to be just devastating to all of their viewers,” he said, barely bothering to smirk.

But don't dare confuse that serious jab at the failed TV network that tried to do him dirty as Manning showing signs of crumbling under the pressure of possibly playing his last NFL game.

Guy looks loose.

Seems comfortable.

It's almost as though he knows something the rest of Football America doesn't.

He probably does, because ... well, doesn't he always?

Here in Denver, there is a sweet scent in the thin air. It smells like something familiar that wafted through Pittsburgh a decade ago.

You know what I'm talking about, right?

It's the smell of everything coming up roses.

That's what happened for the Steelers a decade ago.

Looking back, everything broke in their favor on that run to “One For The Thumb.” Really, though, we should have sniffed it out as it happened.

Not enough is made about how lucky the Steelers were along the road to Super Bowl XL. When the point is raised, it always becomes about avoiding the Patriots of Brady and Bill Belichick.

How about catching Manning's Colts at the right time?

After a bye week.

After the failed push for an undefeated regular season.

After the death of Tony Dungy's son.

Those Colts were ripe for the picking.

Far from ripe, these Steelers are severely bruised. From their secondary to their two best players to their running game, these Steelers might be broken.

The best thing going for them, so says everybody, is that Manning isn't the Manning of old.

Everybody is right.

What everybody seems to be missing is that Manning seems to know it.

“In the playoffs, you just want to do your job to help your team win,” he said. “No matter how old you are. No matter how long you've been playing.”

Manning's been playing a long time.

Never had a shot at the Super Bowl quite like this one with the Broncos.

Denver's defense is the NFL's best. Its running game is dangerous because of its dual-threat tandem of backs.. Its thin air should be the NFL's best home advantage.

And the Steelers are staggered by injuries.

And the red-hot Chiefs are standing in front of the wobbly Patriots.

This isn't the first time Manning has been the quarterback of the AFC's best team entering the playoffs.

First time he's not been the reason for it, however.

That gives Manning a real shot in what could be the last time for an all-time great.

Rob Rossi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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