On Sunday, as one quarterback began his journey in the NFL, another turned the page and started a new chapter in his already illustrious career.
“I don’t know how Peyton’s neck is doing,” quipped NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth, during the Denver Broncos comeback victory over the Pittsburg Steelers on Sunday, “but his brain’s doing just fine.” If this was Manning working off a little rust, then the rest of the league might be in trouble. In his first start since the 2010 season, it was vintage Manning. The future first ballot Hall-of-Fame QB turned back the clock, controlling the defense with his eyes, cadence and movement back and forth from the line, using the play clock as effectively as ever. He’s had better days than his 19-of-26, 253 yards, two touchdowns, no-pick performance, but this wasn’t about the numbers –although he joined Brett Favre and Dan Marino as the only quarterbacks to ever throw 400 touchdown passes and posted a QB rating of 129.2– as the Broncos fired-up the Mile High City and opened their season with a 31-9 win over Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers.
At 36, Manning is still working to regain his accuracy and timing, but with his use of the no-huddle and orchestrating three consecutive 80-yard touchdown drives, the front office of the Indianapolis Colts probably wish they could rescind the Manning-for-Andrew Luck tradeoff. The football world waited a long time, through an entire NFL season and move from Indianapolis to Denver, to see Peyton back on the field again. But while the uniform and his teammates may be different, we saw Sunday night that Manning is still Manning. That could mean great things ahead for John Elway and the Broncos.
Robert Griffin III knows how to make an entrance. And the rookie quarterback derby was won by the Heisman Trophy winner, as the other four first-year QB’s hit the rookie wall early. Luck had his moments for the Colts but also had four turnovers at Chicago. Russell Wilson came up short (pun intended) in Arizona as Braylon Edwards dropped the game- winning TD pass for the Seahawks. And the Browns’ Brandon Weeden and the Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill combined for zero touchdowns and six interceptions in loses to the Eagles and Texans, respectively. But RG3 star emerged and shined brightest on Sunday.
The comparisons between the Washington Redskins rookie QB and the Carolina Panthers sophomore star Cam Newton are obvious, and after Sunday’s performance, in which Griffin led his team to victory, expectations will be sky high. A year ago, Newton had 422-yards opening game for the Panthers in which he had a 110.4 quarterback rating. Unfortunately for him, the Panthers lost. On Sunday, Robert Griffin III and the Redskins upset the New Orleans Saints 40-32. The No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft completed 19-of-26 passes for 320 yards (running for 42 more yards), two touchdowns, no interceptions and had a staggering 139.9 QB rating, and played well beyond his 22-years on this planet. “I don’t know how it could be much better,” RG3 told Peter King of Sports Illustrated after the ‘Skins’ road win. “Winning your first game, on the road, against a Super Bowl contender that won a Super Bowl, in my hometown. It’s pretty great.”
The best is yet to come from Washington and Denver’s newest saviors. With Week 1 jitters behind them and a pair of W’s to go along with it, Manning and RGIII are just getting warmed up. How do you see these two quarterbacks performing in Week 2?