Peyton Manning doesn't miss a beat as Broncos down Steelers

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning takes to the field with backup quarterback Brock Osweiler (6) trailing before the start of an NFL football game between the Denver Broncos and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012 in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Photo by David Zalubowski

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning takes to the field with backup quarterback Brock Osweiler (6) trailing before the start of an NFL football game between the Denver Broncos and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012 in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER — Peyton Manning made a successful NFL return from a year's sabbatical, leading the Broncos past the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19 in his Denver debut Sunday night.

The four-time MVP coming off four neck surgeries completed 19 of 26 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns.

He got a big assist from another free agent, cornerback Tracy Porter, whose 43-yard interception return of Ben Roethlisberger's pass with 2 minutes left sealed the win.

Manning, jettisoned by the Indianapolis Colts in March after missing all of last season with a nerve injury that weakened his throwing arm, took just two snaps in the third quarter. But one was a 71-yard touchdown throw to Demaryius Thomas, Manning's first as a Bronco and the 400th of his career.

Manning reached the milestone in his 208th career game. Dan Marino did it in his 227th game and Brett Favre in his 228th.

Manning spent much of his night on the sideline as Roethlisberger led a clock-chewing offense that had the ball for 10 minutes longer than Denver did. At one point, Roethlisberger had taken 30 snaps to Manning's one — a kneel-down — during two monstrous drives that spanned halftime.

"Roethlisberger was awesome on third down," the former Tennessee Vol said of Pittsburgh's 11-of-19 conversion rate. "Wasn't much fun sitting on the bench there all night. Great job by our defense in the end, getting that turnover."

When he was between the lines, Manning was masterful.

He led Denver on three straight 80-yard touchdown drives and had the Broncos at the Steelers 8 when his next drive stalled and they settled for Matt Prater's short field goal and a 25-19 lead with 3 minutes left.

Porter stepped in front of Emmanuel Sanders and returned an interception 43 yards for the score a minute later, and Roethlisberger was sacked three times on his last possession after going down just twice all night.

Coach John Fox called Porter's pick "the biggest play of the game."

The Steelers converted some very long third downs as Denver's defense grew fatigued.

Manning, was sacked twice and both times bounced right up with no issues.

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Comments » 7

BigVolFaninSC writes:

Manning is still the master...even after taking a year off!

HazardKYVol writes:

Glad to see Peyton doing well. Indy's loss was Denver's gain. He means much more to the community than winning football games.

Scoon writes:

Hello. Payton Baby drug Kentucky's Jacob Tammie Baby along with him for the ride. Jacob Tammie, starting right off the bat with Manning for the Denver Broncos ... so, now what does that tell you?? ... he was part of the deal!

Also, did you see that big sack Kentucky's Wesley Woodyard put all over Roethlisberger toward the end of the game last night?? ... AHEM ... ANOTHER Kentucky starter, as well !!! Some good stuff coming out of CatLand!! And, Tammie is a true born, home-grown Kentucky boy, too!! Yeah!!
Go Tammie!! Go Tammie!!

Hmm ... I may have to revise my thinking a bit on Manning now and actually start liking him 'some'.

linebam writes:

Great to see Manning back in orange (albeit, not the correct shade). I hope he has a monstrous year and gets Denver back to the playoffs and beyond.

Note: Andrew Luck didn't look great in his season opener, but I think he'll be fine and so will the Colts. I wish them well, but I think it's a shame that Peyton couldn't finish his career with one team as he had hoped to do... he's fiercely loyal and we UT fans are very thankful for that. Go Peyton!!!

Hounddawg writes:

Peyton stated that the mentoring provided by David Howell helped him get through the time off. Even more reason to keep DH close to the Volunteer program!

Good Job Peyton and good luck this year!

johnlg00 writes:

Loved seeing Peyton and the half-dozen or so other Vols on both teams. The Broncos may need to tighten up the defense a bit to make a deep run this year, but if old John "Three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust" Fox lets them run Peyton's no-huddle offense all year, they will be a tough out for anybody.

And BTW, how did this article wind up in the "Football Recruiting" section of GVX? We aren't recruiting NFL guys, are we?

volfaninutah writes:

It was good to see him take a couple of shots early in the game. His neck looks OK. He popped right up and kept on the pressure. He IS the greatest of all time in my opinion. He looked unstoppable in the no huddle last night. That plays right into his hands. He looks like he has some good receivers too. They looked like they were on the same page, and they will only get better.

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