ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --In the sanctum that is their locker room, the Broncos can turn up the chatter and turn down the noise from outside.
But it was impossible for those players who were on social media to completely ignore the hysterical over-reaction in some circles to Monday night's loss and the four interceptions thrown by Peyton Manning.
"They hold him up to a high expectation, and they say things about him that they really don't understand," running back C.J. Anderson said. "I think it's kind of wrong and disrespectful towards him, because the time and the effort and what he's been doing for these last 17 years in the league, and what he's done in the last three years for the Broncos, has been amazing."
Manning goes into Week 17 with a league-leading 39 touchdowns. He is fourth in quarterback rating, fourth in yardage and sixth in completion percentage. Among quarterbacks with at least 250 attempts, only three have completed passes of 20-plus yards at a higher rate than Manning (one every 9.29 pass plays); in that same group, he is fifth in yardage per attempt (7.95).
One game might shake some followers, but not his teammates.
"When he throws four picks, everybody blows it out of the market and takes it out of proportion," Anderson said.
And that is the life of a quarterback in regards to public perception -- even one whose Hall of Fame credentials are virtually unparalleled. Social media exacerbates the situation.
"That's something you expect. They're always going to have an opinion," said cornerback Chris Harris Jr., a prolific Tweeter with over 120,000 followers. "That's something you expect: I can play well and I'll still have some negative guy say something to me. It's just something you have to live with.
"Peyton knows how it is, playing quarterback. That's probably why he doesn't have a Twitter handle," Harris added with a knowing chuckle.
Harris does. So does Anderson, who has over 17,000 followers on Twitter and sees first-hand how social media can devour the best and brightest for an off night.
"Look at it: everyone gets upset when Kobe (Bryant) goes 8-for-30. Everybody's mad," Anderson said. "Then the next game, he goes 16-for-25, he has 37 points and 6 assists and 8 rebounds, or something like that."
And that's what the Broncos expect Sunday: a bounce-back from a player who once again earned the Pro Bowl selection -- his 14th -- that came his way this week.
"There are, what, five great quarterbacks in the league, and he's up there, maybe No. 1, No. 2," Anderson said. "There are a lot of people right now who would take a four-pick Peyton Manning on their team."
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