NFL: Magical Night in Denver as Manning and the Broncos Prevail

Ethan ArnoldCorrespondent ISeptember 10, 2012

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 9:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos runs onto the field during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on September 9, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

There's no question that Peyton Manning is the same quarterback he was a year ago, and there clearly is no question that Manning was happy to be back. After almost every completion, you could count on a radiant smile being displayed on Manning's face. 

It had been 610 days since Manning was behind center in an NFL game. That was back on January 8, 2011, when the Colts lost to the Jets in the first round of the playoffs.

In the third quarter, Manning recognized a blitz and changed the play at the line of scrimmage. Seconds later, he snapped the ball and immediately made the throw over to Demaryius Thomas. With the help of some key blocks, Thomas took it to the house for the 71-yard score. Not only was it a reminder of Manning's capability, but it was also a reminder of Manning's prodigious career, as the pass was good for his 400th career passing touchdown.

The Steelers got the ball back and Ben Roethlisberger then drove his offense down field and capped off the drive with a three-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace.

The very next possession, Manning put together another impressive drive of 10 plays, 80 yards and concluded it with a one-yard pass to tight end Jacob Tamme for the score. The two-point conversion gave the Broncos a 22-19 lead with 9:23 to go in the fourth quarter.

Big Ben was given one last opportunity with 1:58 left. Down 25-19, Roethlisberger dropped back on the second play of the drive and was intercepted by cornerback Tracy Porter, who ran 43 yards for the score.

Manning was victorious in his first start as a Bronco and after his stunning performance Sunday night, Manning proved that he still has the skill and ability to put together another MVP-caliber season.