After a year away from the game, Peyton Manning did not miss a beat against the Steelers.
On Sunday Night Football, in front of 76,823 people at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Peyton Manning showed the world that he is back as an all-pro quarterback in the National Football League. Being a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, it was very difficult for me to watch Peyton Manning pick apart the defense late in the fourth quarter to eventually earn the victory for the Denver Broncos.
There were many doubts about Peyton Manning’s ability to come back after having four neck surgeries last year and missing over a year of football. Analysts wondered how effective he would be and if his health would be enough to perform at the NFL level. After the Indianapolis Colts chose not to re-sign him to a new contract, many thought that he would retire to keep his legacy with the Colts, but the Broncos were quick to jump right off of the Tim Tebow bandwagon to sign Manning. To say the least, Manning was not a fantasy favorite right away, as people questioned his arm strength and his ability to perform against great defenses. I think Manning proved himself on Sunday night. Manning threw for 253 yards, completing 19 of his 26 passes. He also threw two key touchdowns in the game and ended the day with a quarterback rating of 129.2. Needless to say, Manning did not miss a step from his last time on the field. In the third quarter, he switched the offense to his favorite “no-huddle” approach, and this was all it took for him to torch the former No. 1-ranked Steelers’ defense in the second-half. Nobody can question that he played like his future “Hall-of-Famer” self.
Even with his brilliant performance in Week 1, the question of whether Peyton Manning can continue to play at a high-level remains. The Colts made a huge mistake by not re-signing Manning. If he chooses to stay, he still has a good three to five years left in the league. Worries about the stability of his neck should have been answered on Sunday, because his neck is only going to keep improving as the year goes on. Unless he takes a brutal hit, which he almost never does, he will only become better. The Broncos should be considered a major Super Bowl contender this year. They have a top-notch defense, last year’s No.1-ranked rushing offense and now they have Manning. If he can continue play like he did on Sunday, the Denver Broncos can beat any team in the NFL. I believe that the Broncos, barring any injuries, will finish with twelve or more wins and at the very least, make it to the AFC Championship game.