To quote the great Ric Flair, "To be the man, you gotta beat the man." Right now, I wouldn't bet against Peyton Manning.
One of the biggest stories of the off-season took itís first step in the regular season on Sunday night. Peyton Manning took over as Quarterback of the Denver Broncos, and not only did he avoid injury, he looked great in beating the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The avoiding injury was a huge concern, not only of myself, but every columnist on every website that mentions sport. Manning was only sacked twice by an aggressive Steelers defense. Albeit, a defense missing hard-hitting Safety Ryan Clark, but a stout defense nonetheless.
Manning finished the game 19-for-26 for 253 yards with two touchdowns. He also picked up a key first down on a scramble out of the pocket for seven yards. A play that could have been the most important of the game. Not because it picked up a first down, but it showed that Manning is not afraid to move out of the pocket.
The Denver Offensive Line is better than most of the lines Manning ever had in Indianapolis. With that in mind, giving up only two sacks is a major accomplishment against that Steelers defense. If the Offensive Line can keep Manning up-right, his numbers should only improve.
Manningís first touchdown of the night was his 400th of his illustrious career. Obviously a huge accomplishment, and my guess is he has many more this season. The Broncos do have a difficult schedule -- the first five weeks are brutal -- but Manning has the ability to lead this team to a winning record through the first five weeks.
Therefore, the coming weeks will be the truest test to see how far Manning has come in the last 12 months. Peyton Manning probably wonít be seeing a ton of help from his ground game as we all anticipated, but that could have just been another in a long line of dominating performances from the Steelers.
It wonít be easy, but just think, this was a warm-up for Manning. Once he gets 100% in-sync with the offense heíll be able to pick apart defenses like he has in the past. I have zero doubt about that, because Peyton Manning, much like football, is back.
Manning is still the man, furthermore, heís still a top-five Quarterback in the league. At this point, we are just waiting on the big game to remind us all of the Peyton of old. The 400-yard, five-touchdown game as he commands the offense at the line, changing the play. That will come, and at this point, it is only a matter of when -- not if.