Peyton Manning lifted the Broncos to a rare home victory against their most detested rival. Now, the Broncos will have to help Manning come through against his personal antagonist.
Bring it on one more time: Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady.
Manning is more than ready after he sliced and diced, dinked and dunked, fired and flung the Broncos past the overmatched Raiders, 37-6, Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
The Broncos (2-2) will play New England (2-2) next week at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Only it won’t be billed Broncos vs. Patriots.
Is it ever too early to start the Manning vs. Brady hype?
“You know when you play New England that Tom is going to have his guys ready, so you know you have to be prepared to be at your best,” Manning said in a quiet hallway outside the Broncos’ locker room. “Some of the players they’ve had over the years, (Tedy) Bruschi, (Richard) Seymour, there’s not many of those guys around there anymore. Tom is about the only player who has been there through the years, Tom and coach (Bill) Beleichick. They’ve always had such a good defense every time we’ve played them that I’ve always been able to just hone in on that and not pay attention to all that …”
Hype? Renewed debate between who’s the best quarterback, Brady or Manning?
Until Manning came along, the Broncos were 0-4 the previous four years against the Raiders in Denver.
One game with Manning, and the Broncos not only snapped their home Oakland skid, they made the Raiders look as if they didn’t belong on the same Mile High field.
There is no such thing as a Broncos’ trend, good or bad, pre-Manning. There is only now.
“He was just remarkable,” said Broncos’ tight end Joel Dreessen, who caught Manning’s first touchdown pass to finish off the game-opening possession. “He was a fricking stud today. Finding the open person. Running that no-huddle.”
Brady is also well-tuned for his meeting with Manning next week after he lead New England to a 52-28 stomping of the Bills in Buffalo on Sunday.
As for the Broncos’ first-year quarterback, go ahead, keep questioning his arm strength. Wonder if he is what he once was. Whatever the doubts about Manning, the Broncos will take him.
“Accuracy is what counts,” Dreessen said. “He can overthrow the deep ball if he wanted to.”
It wasn’t so much Manning’s stat line against the Raiders, wondrous as it was. It’s how he went about completing 30-of-38 for 338 yards, three touchdowns and a 130.0 passer rating that wasn’t far from perfect.
On a warm, sunny late September afternoon before another sellout crowd, Manning took control of the Broncos’ offense from the line of scrimmage. Thinking fast, he scanned the Raiders’ defense. Even after he lost center J.D. Walton to a broken left ankle near the end of the first half, Manning continued to run the offense at an upbeat tempo. He saw the matchup he wanted. He waited. He spotted the open receiver. And he delivered.