It took him most of the first half to get going, but once Peyton Manning got his bearings, he was way too much for a banged up Steelers defense to handle. Manning dominated the 2nd half, leading the Broncos on long scoring drives in all 3 of their posessions. Manning finished 19-26 for 253 yards and 2 touchdowns.
With the Steelers dominating time of posession and nursing a 2nd half lead, Manning made Swiss cheese of the Steelers vaunted defense with his patened no-huddle offense, leading Denver to scoring drives of 80, 80 and 60 yards in quick fashion.
As good as Manning was, Denver also had a free 5 or 6 yards off of the halfback trap anytime they wanted it. The Steelers allowed Denver to get into 2 and short throughout the game and Manning made the rest look easy.
Manning’s counterpart, Ben Roethlisberger, was excellent at times, completing several big passes on 3rd downs early in the game. But Roethlisberger’s accuracy was erratic and his errant throw to Emmanuel Sanders late in the 4th was an easy interception and touchdown for Tracy Porter, sealing the game for Denver.
Jonathan Dwyer was one of the lone bright spots for Pittsburgh, showing toughness and vision despite only seeing limited action. The Steelers receivers looked good as well, and Mike Wallace nabbed a TD catch in his first action of the year.
But this night was Manning’s alone. He’s one of those rare athletes who tend to shine brightest when everybody is watching. Denver looks like they could be a real player in the AFC this year.
As for Pittsburgh? It’s only one game and this isn’t the kind of season defining lost that last year’s week one debacle in Baltimore was. Hopefully the defense gets healthy and the team regroups with a win against the Jets next week.
A few other notes:
1. The replacement refs were slowwwww at pretty much everything. No terrible mistakes though.
2. The offensive line still sucks. Sorry, no team can contend for a Super Bowl with that unit upfront.
3. Hopefully the Steelers never play in Denver again.
4. NBC wasted about 3.5 seconds before starting the Super Bowl bandwagon for Denver.
5. Steelers fans might want to avoid ESPN for the rest of the week unless they want to see the highlights of this game played on a constant loop.