New team, same old Manning. It had been two years since Peyton Manning threw a football in a regular season game as he missed the entire season last year due to four surgeries he had on his neck. Many were wondering if Peyton would be able to play at the same level as he did before and some were speculating he would retire. Despite getting off to a slow start, Manning would eventually settle in and would lead the Broncos to a touchdown on the teams third possession of the game (with Manning going 7/8 passing for 61 yards) to give the Broncos a 7-3 advantage.
After a scoring drive that resulted in a touchdown for the Steelers before the first half, Pittsburgh received the ball to open the second half and went on a 16 play 74yd drive that took 8:51 off the clock. Manning though didn't hesitate to quickly respond to Pittsburgh's long scoring drive. On the second play of Denver's first possession of the second half, the offense set up a flanker screen allowing Manning to throw to Demaryius Thomas who then sprinted down the sidelines, giving the Broncos a quick score in a drive that went 80 yards in just 21 seconds. This however became an advantage for Pittsburgh's next drive after they already had Denver's defense out on the field for nearly nine minutes.
Ben Roethlisberger lead the Steelers on another lengthy drive that saw them finish it off with a TD pass to Mike Wallace. Pittsburgh once again burnt a large chunk of time off the clock. This time going 50 yards in 13 plays with a time of possession of 6:13. But Manning and Denver began to take total control for the rest of the game. The Broncos once again started off on their own 20, but needed very little time to go 80 yards to score again. After two plays of Willis McGahee running for 20 yards combined, Manning was hitting his targets left and right as they continued to move the ball downfield. Manning then found Jacob Tamme in the corner of the endzone for a Broncos TD and converted on the two point conversion afterwards making it 22-19 in favor of the Broncos.
Denver's defense began to find its stride by forcing Pittsburgh into a 3 and out on their next possession. Denver then took the ball down field again, and got a field goal out of it, extending their lead to six. Pittsburgh had one last chance to win the game and looked as if they were going to do so, until Denver's defense stepped up when it mattered the most. Tracy Porter picked off Roethlisberger and returned it for a touchdown. Pittsburgh got the ball one last time but the Steelers were already in way over their heads as Denver finished off the Steelers offense by sacking Roethlisberger three times (twice by Von Miller) on their final possession.
In the end, Peyton Manning's experience and leadership helped control Denver's offense by putting together productive scoring drives and the defense stepped it up in the second half by applying pressure to Roethlisberger and jamming up the Steelers receivers.
Manning's 71 Yard TD pass to Thomas was the 400th of his career
Manning has played for teams that both represent horses(Colts, Broncos)
Pittsburgh went 4 for 4 in the red zone (2FG's 2TD's)
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