Manning shines for Mile High City in Broncos debut

The first week of the NFL season always comes with much excitement and expectations for the coming season. But no city in America had more excitement for the coming season than the city of Denver. Their new man under center, Peyton Manning, a future hall of famer, made his first start for the team at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night. Needless to say, in usual Peyton Manning style, he didn’t disappoint. Entering the start of the season, critics said the Broncos paid too much for the quarterback. Giving a five-year, $96 million contract to a 36-year-old quarterback is unheard of. Not only that, but the man hasn’t taken a snap in 19 months after undergoing four neck surgeries. Many wondered whether or not he would ever be a successful quarterback in the NFL again. Sunday night, he answered those critics in a fashion only Peyton Manning could. Playing in his first game since the 2010 playoffs, he stepped in and did what he has always done. He led his team to a 31-19 victory in the fourth quarter. Looking like he never missed a single game, Manning completed 19 of 26 passes for 253 yards. He was as efficient as he has ever been, finishing the game with a quarterback rating of 129.2. He threw two touchdown passes, the first to Demaryius Thomas on a 71-yard play to give Denver the lead in the third quarter. The second was a 1-yard strike to Jacob Tamme in the fourth quarter. The touchdown pass to Thomas was the 400th of Manning’s career, making him only the third quarterback to reach that milestone in NFL history. He joined Brett Favre and Dan Marino as the only members of that elite club, reaching that mark faster than either of them. After the game, Manning was his usual humble self in a post game interview on ESPN. “I’m still feeling my way out; I still have some limitations,” Manning said. “I think this team is still forming its identity … when you get a win in that process, that’s a nice thing.” Obviously, this is only one game, but it has to put a lot of the Denver fans at ease knowing that the Peyton Manning that they got Sunday night was the Peyton Manning of old. After all, the team hasn’t had a real winner under center since John Elway retired (no offense to Jay Cutler). Bronco fans have a reason to be excited, and if the rest of the offense can stay healthy and productive, Denver could find itself back in the Super Bowl for the first time in 13 years.