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Published on 08/10/2012 at Fri Aug 10 11:29.
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Peyton Manning

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning throws during the Broncos' 2012 preseason opener against the Chicago Bears. The Broncos routed the Bears 31-3 in Manning's Broncos debut. (Andrew Mason/

The hit everyone was waiting for never happened. Left tackle Ryan Clady would rather be penalized than see Peyton Manning get zinged during the Denver Broncos‘ first preseason game.

“Peyton gets creamed or I take a 10-yard penalty?” Clady asked rhetorically [via Mike Klis]. “Peyton gets clobbered or I maul this guy?”

The answer was simple, and Clady took the (suspect) holding penalty, just as the new Broncos offense everyone was waiting to see was just getting into rhythm. It may have been frustrating to fans to see Manning’s perfect 11-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas get brought back, but it was smart on Clady’s part.

With Peyton Manning under center, you can get those yards back.

That’s exactly what Manning did in the first quarter Thursday as the Broncos opened their 2012 preseason against the Chicago Bears, routing their NFC opponent 31-3. Manning completed four consecutive passes (not including the Thomas catch, which was called back) to move the Broncos 50 yards downfield in his first and only drive, including a 19-yard pass to Eric Decker on 3rd and 17 that showed the type of passing prowess fans have been drooling over.

It wasn’t all positive though. Manning finished the night four for seven for 44 yards, and his last throw was thrown slightly behind receiver Brandon Stokley. The ball was tipped by the Bears’ D.J. Moore into the waiting arms of Major Wright for an interception at the Bears goal line.

“I take the blame,” Stokley told reporters. “I didn’t run a great route and the guy made a pretty good play and tipped it up in the air. It wasn’t (Manning’s) fault; it was more my fault with the route that I ran.”

It was the end of Manning’s work for the night. Manning and the first-team offense would not contribute to the rout in Chicago, while all three backup quarterbacks led touchdown drives.

But it was Jack Del Rio‘s stifling defense, allowing the Bears offense to enter Broncos territory only once before the fourth quarter and never surrendering a third down conversion, that most impacted the final score. Rookie Derek Wolfe was an uncompromising force in multiple positions on the defensive line, netting two sacks. Malik Jackson, Jeremy Beal, and Robert Ayers also had impressive days for defensive linemen, while linebacker Nate Irving was a force at linebacker, leading the team in tackles.

You take preseason victories with a grain of salt, and you remember that the Bears were without Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brian Urlacher, and Julius Peppers Thursday. But you find encouragement in a decisive victory and impressive performances on all fronts, even if The Man of the Hour ended his drive with the football in the wrong hands.

“(Manning) was remarkable,” Denver coach John Fox said in halftime quotes distributed by the team. “He came back — he’s worked very hard. He hasn’t played football in [almost] two years. I thought it was a good first drive in these conditions — it was sloppy. It was sloppy by the receivers as far as the conditions but I thought it was a very good first outing.”

Were you happy with Manning’s performance or disappointed in that last pick? Who among the backup QB’s looked best? Dish it out in the comments, and come back for BT Game Balls soon.

(Photo courtesy

  • E. Halsey Miles

    I don’t want to get too excited about the defense at all. The Bears offense is a shambles; their o-line is miserable as usual, and our defense capitalized a lot on mistakes they made, making it difficult to really get a feel for their performance.

    I credit them with taking advantage of the opportunity they were given, though, and I look forward to seeing if they can build on it.

  • Brandon Kirk

    I was out of market so I didn’t watch the game Live but it looked like Manning was photoshopped into a Bronco uniform. I still can’t believe it.

    He looked pretty good. Some of the critique I’ve heard doesn’t take into consideration that it was preseason game 1. Overall, it definitely sparked more excitement for this upcoming season.

    Ball looked great, Wolfe looked great, I was glad to see Ayers step up even if it was against the 2s.

    I think the other quarterbacks seemed to look decent. I was glad Hanie settled down after the first few plays. Osweiler showed promise.

    I was glad Cutler sat, hate that guy, and glad we whooped on his team. Can’t wait to find out how he’ll choke this year.

  • LeglizHemp

    Manning throws an interception his first drive as a Bronco…….get used to it.

  • Greg Bays

    At least he throws. NOT seing a sack every other play might take some time “getting used to” as well.

  • Doomiller

    Ryan Matthews gets hurt on his first touch. Get used to it moron.

  • TheTroglodyte

    Manning’s throws looked an awful lot like Chad Pennington without the tight spiral. I’m hoping to see something an awful lot better in week 2. Don’t care about the interception one bit.

  • Ricky Hardesty

    Vickerson looked awesome!! Constantly getting the push inside and just wrecking the bears running game

  • anthony33

    Have to agree with you cave man, although I’m not sure that Manning ever really had a cannon for an arm. He just puts it on the dime and knows exactly where to go with the ball. That part will come back in time I’m sure.

    One thing for sure… Osweiler’s release point is the absolute polar opposite of Tebow’s. Man, the ball gets out of there in a hurry and that will be a HUGE plus as he develops.

  • Speer999

    One thing to remember is that the field was wet from a rain storm. We may see a better arm on a dry field.

  • Speer999

    Typical downer. Go back to Oakland or “I don’t give a crap where you are from” town.

  • 350legend

    I saw most of the game but didnt see the 2 sacks of Derek Wolfe, happy we destroyed them preseason or not, ill take it! Bronco 4 Life!!