If there were still any doubters out there about Peyton Manning’s ability to throw a football, they have likely all disappeared after a season opening 49-27 win over the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens. It was a pure Manning performance; an NFL record-tying seven touchdown passes, 462 yards passing, with no interceptions. He became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw six or more TD passes in a game three times, and his quarterback rating was an unbelievable 141.1.
The great night for Manning and his teammates came after the game was delayed almost 45 minutes due to lightning in the Denver area. The Broncos seemed to struggle a bit early, as they were forced to punt the first three times they had the football. When the Broncos finally got going, the Ravens simply could not stop them. Manning threw a pair of TD passes to three different receivers. Newcomer Wes Welker caught a couple as did tight end Julius Thomas, and wide-out Demaryius Thomas. Andre Caldwell caught the other.
“It was an awesome night,” Manning said after the game. “Our offensive line did a heck of a job against a great pass rush, gave me good time.”
The Ravens actually led 17-14 at halftime, but Denver outscored the world champs 35-10 in the second half as they put their stamp firmly on the role of Super Bowl favorite for the 2013 season. For Peyton Manning, the win over the Ravens avenged the loss to Baltimore in the AFC playoffs eight months ago. The Ravens scored an upset win in Denver back in January ending the Broncos season on their way to a Super Bowl title. That loss was one that Manning took personally.
Everyone wondered how he could continue to play football, after sitting out the entire 2011 season with a serious neck injury. He was 36 years old at the time and several months prior to the 2012 season, his old team, the Indianapolis Colts gave him his release. The Broncos won perhaps the largest free-agent bidding war in NFL history, and Manning made the Denver front office look like geniuses. He passed for more than 4,000 yards with 37 TD passes, narrowly missing his fifth NFL Most Valuable Player award. He followed up a great 2012 season with an even greater opening night for 2013.
“He’s phenomenal,” receiver Julius Thomas said. “To continue to come out every year and put that kind of performance on for us is amazing.”
Manning’s coach, John Fox also was singing his praises. “Peyton had an amazing night. Peyton’s had a lot of amazing nights.”
In years past, I would have stayed up as long as it took to watch a game like that on television. I decided at halftime, even with the Broncos trailing 17-14, that everything was under control. “Peyton’s got this,” I said to myself. I rolled over and went to sleep, knowing full well that Peyton and the Broncos could handle the Ravens without my help. Man…..did they ever!
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).