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Broncos, Ravens brace for frigid playoff in Denver

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Broncos, Ravens brace for frigid playoff in Denver

DENVER (AP) That glove Peyton Manning has been wearing on his throwing hand will come in quite handy Saturday for what could be the coldest home postseason game in Denver Broncos' history.

Those not playing may want to sit on the heated benches - or next to the electric heaters - because the game-time temperature when the Broncos host the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC divisional playoffs is expected to be 17 degrees, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Kalina.

In other words, ``bundle up,'' Kalina said.

The coldest postseason contest at Mile High was 18 degrees for the 1977 AFC championship game, when Denver beat Oakland 20-17.

The chilliest home game ever in Denver? That would be 9 degrees against San Diego on Dec 10, 1972.

Being such a meticulous planner, Manning left nothing to chance in the weeks leading up this game. To prepare for the possibility of wintry weather, the four-time NFL MVP wore an orange-and-gray glove on his throwing hand the last two games. Manning has been quite effective, too, with the glove - his completion percentage has been almost 6 points better and his passer rating almost 20 points higher than without it.

The stickiness of the glove also helps Manning better grip the football, especially these days after the multiple neck surgeries he underwent during his season out of football.

``I certainly don't think I would have had to wear the glove had I not been injured last year,'' Manning said. ``It's part of my injury, some things that I've had to adjust. I'm in a different body. Some things are different for me, so that's the reason for that as much as anything.''

The cool weather certainly hasn't been friendly to Manning, who's 0-3 in playoff games in which the temperature at kickoff is less than 40 degrees.

And this game will certainly be well south of that number.

``It's going to be very cold,'' Kalina said. ``There may even be a few flakes, but it shouldn't affect the game. Just really cold.''

This isn't even close to the coldest game in NFL history, though. That distinction belongs to ``The Ice Bowl'' on Dec. 31, 1967, when the temperature at Lambeau Field reached minus-13 (with a minus-48 wind chill) in a contest between Green Bay and Dallas.

All week, Broncos players boasted about wearing short-sleeves despite the cool conditions. It was simply a matter of convincing the mind it really wasn't all the frigid.

``Once you get out there, you're on the field, you're just fine,'' Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas said earlier this week. ``But if you're just sitting around, that's when it gets to you. As long as you're out there on the field and warm, you're good.''

The field should be in solid shape, though, with more than 20 miles of water-heated tubing under the field to keep it from freezing.

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Pete Carroll has ‘nothing but great thoughts’ about former Seahawk safety Earl Thomas

Pete Carroll has ‘nothing but great thoughts’ about former Seahawk safety Earl Thomas

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he doesn’t harbor any negative thoughts or feelings about Earl Thomas. More specifically, about how Thomas' tenure ended in Seattle.

In a Wednesday conference call, Carroll said he loved coaching Thomas and hopes nothing but the best for him in Baltimore.

“I know that when we were together, we did everything we could to be great,” Carroll said. “Earl was an incredible competitor and I loved coaching him. And I like watching him play now. It’ll be fun playing against him.”

Thomas was a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time First Team All-Pro in Seattle under Carroll’s watch, but the relationship soured toward the end of Thomas’s time in Seattle. After a holdout last season, Thomas broke his leg in the team’s fourth game of the season. While being carted off, he flipped off the Seahawks sideline in his last time in the uniform. 

He signed a four-year, 55 million dollar deal in the offseason to play with the Ravens, officially ending his nine-year stint as a Seahawk. 

Carroll, however, said he has no issues with how the relationship ended.

“Not really, I wish he could’ve played with us and we could’ve stayed together forever,” Carroll said. “That was kind of always the thought. But it didn’t work out that way and guys have got to go on their way and they do their business and do their stuff. Earl was a great Seahawk, he was a blast to coach, we had a great time here doing the things we did.”

As for whether the two could reconnect on Sunday, both Thomas and Carroll said they won’t plan anything. Instead, they’ll let it happen organically.

“I have nothing but great thoughts about Earl,” Carroll said. “I have great respect for him. If I get a chance to visit with him, I’ll visit with him like I always do.”

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Earl Thomas isn’t fazed, yet, by return to face Seahawks as an opponent

Earl Thomas isn’t fazed, yet, by return to face Seahawks as an opponent

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The last time Earl Thomas was in a Seattle Seahawks uniform, he sat on a medical cart with his broken left leg in a cast and his right middle finger extended toward the Seahawks bench. 

The ugly finish to Thomas' tenure as a Seahawk last September ended a nine year stint as one of the league's best safeties, in the league's best secondaries. Now a Raven, Thomas will return to Seattle on Sunday to face the Seahawks for the first time as an opponent. 

He’s mostly downplayed the situation, but Sunday will undoubtedly be an emotional game for both Thomas and the Seahawks organization. 

“It doesn’t matter who I’m playing for, I’m going out there and trying to win,” Thomas said. “Maybe when I get to the visiting locker room and see how that feels, it’ll add something to that. But other than that, it’s business as usual. I’m going out there to compete and make plays.”

Thomas spent the entirety of his eventual Hall of Fame career in Seattle as a member of the ‘Legion of Boom,’ one of the most famous defensive units in league history.

But his time in Seattle eventually soured as the years rolled on and Kam Chancellor retired, Richard Sherman left town and the unit slowly faded into history. 

That’s before things took a turn with Thomas’ contract and future with the team. After a holdout, he played in four games last season, totaling three interceptions, before breaking his leg and ending his excellent tenure as a Seahawk against the Cardinals. 

“I feel like they’re were trying to phase me out, they were thinking more linebacker-ish,” Thomas said. “They’ve got the three-headed monster with K.J. (Wright), Bobby (Wagner) and (Mychal) Kendricks, obviously coach (Ken) Norton is the D-Coordinator. He’s a linebacker at heart. I understood what was going on.”

As for what reception he thinks he’ll get from the Seattle fans, he’s unsure, but hopeful.

“Hopefully they respect what I’ve done, get a couple of cheers and not too many boos,” Thomas said. “But whatever happens, happens. Hopefully it’s love.”

Thomas has made a big impression on the Ravens just six games into his four-year contract, especially when a player of his stature signs with the Ravens. 

But the way his tenure ended in Seattle is still on the minds of everyone, including a few of his teammates.

“Since Earl’s been here he’s definitely been a pretty calm-mannered guy,” Marlon Humphrey said. “He’s been there for a long time. The thing that flashes, to me, is the little finger thing. I think there will definitely be a little tension there.”

Thomas said hasn’t planned to talk with anyone pregame and instead he’ll wait for it to happen naturally instead. 

But he did say that various members of the Seahawks organization have kept up with him throughout the course of the season.

“Especially guys on defense, some of my old coaches, some of the strength and conditioning staff,” Thomas said. “I’m sure during pregame, or warmups, if I see some guys and we start a conversation, I’m not going to go out there and not talk to anybody.”

Good memories are much easier to come by for Thomas. He was a three-time First Team All-Pro, six-time Pro Bowler, two-time Second Team All-Pro and a Super Bowl champion in Seattle. He paired with Chancellor on the back-end to create one of the most dominant safety pairings in NFL history as the duo helped lead Seattle to the postseason five times. 

The ugly way Thomas' tenure ended is still on the minds of everyone, but was closure, in a way. And Sunday represents the official closing of the book of his story in Seattle.

“I won so many games there, I grew up as a young man there, started when I was 20 years old,” Thomas said. “I’m always going to respect that organization and I’m always going to be a part of it.”

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