The debut of Peyton Manning as a Denver Bronco couldn’t have gone any better. Manning finished the night with nearly 255 yards passing and two touchdowns in the 31-19 win over the Steelers.
It was without a doubt one of the best games of the week until the final three minutes of the game. The Broncos had taken the lead 22-19 before getting two scoring gifts from the Steelers which clinched the game. First, the Steelers almost rattled Manning with Troy Polamalu rushing the line multiple times before the snap, forcing Denver to take first a timeout and then commit a delay of game penalty as the Broncos rushed to adjust the protection package to prepare for Polamalu.
But the Broncos were able kick a Matt Prater field goal and then a Tracy Porter pick-six to clinch the game. Ben Roethlisberger’s second attempt to bring the Steelers back was thwarted by consecutive Von Miller sacks.
The story was Manning, who posted a quarterback rating north of 129 against the league’s best defense. John Fox and the Broncos picked up a huge opening night win and are now off and running. Any doubters of Manning and how well he’d come back from multiple neck surgeries got definitive proof that Manning was back.
But if you ask Manning, he’s not all the back yet. He still is attending rehab and in his words, isn’t close to being a finished project yet. But he fooled the rest of us with his great performance on Sunday night and he’s now laid the ground work for what should be a playoff season for the Broncos.