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Peyton is a roughneck in Broncos debut

Jason Oliva

Denver Broncos' quarterback Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning shows that not even a neck injury can slow him down

Peyton Manning shows that ain’t nothing going to break his stride, not even a broken neck. In his debut in a Broncos’ jersey, Peyton came out on top with a 31-19 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, a game in which the 11-time Pro Bowl quarterback threw for his 400th career touchdown.

Peyton’s performance last night in Denver is enough to balk at the idea that the former Indianapolis Colts quarterback did not play last season. Peyton underwent four neck surgeries in the course of 19 months, and could be seen wearing a headset on the Colts’ sidelines, doling out experience to young replacement QB Curtis Painter.

Without Peyton, the Colts suffered. They finished the 2011 NFL tied for dead last with a record shared by the St. Louis Rams of 2-14. This was the worst record the Colts have had in 20 years, where they went 1-15 in 1991. Since Peyton debuted for the team in 1998, the Colts have only experienced two losing seasons in which Manning played. There is obviously a trend here.

Perhaps the biggest shock came this off-season when the Colts announced that they would replace Peyton Manning with Nebraska and Heisman runner-up Andrew Luck. And in the rookie Luck’s NFL debut that looked eerily like Manning’s ’98 debut, there is one inalienable truth: there is only one Peyton Manning.

Last night Peyton completed 19 of 26 passes and threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns. Though the veteran QB was sacked twice by the Steelers’ defense, Peyton rose without difficulty.

Although Peyton has not played in a game since Jan. 8, 2011, he came to play with a competitive spirit that made his neck injury and last season seem like distant dreams.

But is anybody really surprised? After all, it is Peyton Manning we are taking about here.

Granted not many people are able to bounce back from four neck surgeries like Peyton can, but the man lives and breathes football and is no doubt a hall of famer to come.

If there is any advice worth taking, it is never bet against Peyton Manning.

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