The past is meaningless in sports, for the athletes at least. No matter how you did your entire career and in the previous week, it’s a whole new game every time you step out onto the field. Peyton Manning wasn’t ready; the Denver Broncos weren’t ready for such a first quarter. Too much to overcome in their 27-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
It’s been a while since Manning played so bad, at least part of the game. When a player’s out for so long, all you remember is the good from him. People forgot about how Manning, so confident of his ability to read plays and the strength of his arm, all combining in one quick package for passing, can sometimes get a bit over zealous with his play calling.
The Denver Broncos turned the ball over four times during their first five drives. He set a new individual record by needing only 8 passes attempts to amass 3 interceptions. Every time Manning gets picked off three times, his team loses. The Denver Broncos had a running game going for them (Willis McGahee with 113 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns) but simply dug themselves too deep of a hole in the first three quarters.
Order was missing, and the Broncos never found it. The Falcons made a choice – not letting Peyton Manning beat them with deep balls. He was 3-7 for passes of over 15 yards, intercepted three of those times. No one caught a pass for more than 18 yards, as Manning finished with 241 yards (24-37) and a rating of 58.5 on a day he’d love to forget.
During one off season with the Colts, Manning requested the coaching staff to position a camera behind the defense, so he can look after practice at himself. At how easy or not it is to read and identify where he’s looking at, where he’s throwing to. A few months later, Manning was a Super Bowl champion for the first time. While no one is expecting him to be an MVP kind of quarterback, it’s pretty obvious he thinks and believes he still is.
While the Broncos don’t have the kind of build to make a Super Bowl run – Inconsistency with their running game and the offensive line, their quarterback is far from perfect and far from the one that entire league was afraid of when he was wearing white and blue. Maybe it’s gone for good, maybe it’s just him still adjusting to the return after missing out on a full season.
He’s taking hits, but he’s getting back up. He took two sacks in the fourth quarter that thwarted the comeback attempt. Once again, the most promising out of that negative play was seeing Manning bounce back like nothing, and keep on throwing. Problem is he wasn’t throwing well enough, and the Broncos don’t have enough weapons to counter for bad Peyton Manning days.