Back to Football-and back to normal for Colts-Broncos game
DENVER – As is common place with a image saavy athlete, there is a moment when the angle of the inquiring reporters it attempted to be pushed in an opposite direction.
Peyton Manning did just a thing on Wednesday when one question came up about the importance of a game against his former team.
“Regular season, season opener, it doesn’t get much bigger than this aside from the post season. I’ve always said opening day, opening night, is a playoff-type atmosphere,” said Manning of the opening game against the Colts Sunday night. “I am tired of talking; I am looking forward to playing some real football. I think it’s an honor, three years running the Broncos have played on the Sunday Night Football primetime game.
“Two years ago, Pittsburgh, here last year, and with the Baltimore home game fiasco we were able to play them here, which that was fine with me. So it’s an honor.”
In all honesty, though, he didn’t need to try to push the narrative away from a match-up against his former team. Just about everyone else is doing the same.
Unlike their match-up in Indianapolis on October 20th of last season, where everything was Manning, Manning and more Manning with significant attempts by both sides to push away the talk, neither the Colts or the Broncos are terribly worried about Peyton vs Colts II.
Instead this contest takes on the same feel of a season opener featuring two competitive teams on arguably the biggest stage a game can have on opening week-the coveted 8:30 P.M. Sunday time slot.
For the Broncos, it the first step in the road to redemption after a miserable Super Bowl performance last February left them with a bitter runner-up tag. On the other side, it’s a chance for the post-Manning Colts to make a statement that they are ready this year to make their push for the Lombardi Trophy.
“I’m excited that regular season football is finally here,” said receiver Reggie Wayne-whose return to the field for the first time since an ACL tear was a storyline that Manning in Indianapolis. “I think the team’s excited, everybody’s eager to go out there to show the world what Colts football is about. Hopefully we’ll go out there with the best foot forward and show Colts nation what we’re all about.”
For the moment, that is Andrew Luck. The third year quarterback has dazzled fans and experts with his abilities in his first two seasons in which he has led the Colts to a pair of playoff appearances.
Luck has passed for 8,196 yards and 46 touchdowns compared to 27 interceptions while leading the Colts to eleven fourth quarter comebacks and game-winning drives in two years. He also beat Manning in their only match-up last season 39-33.
But even then as is now, Luck was never made to feel pressure to replace Manning and his accomplishments during his 13-seasons with the Colts. In fact most of his teammates pretended like that wasn’t an issue.
“To be honest since day one here, it hasn’t been an issue. I never came in thinking, ‘Oh, I have to replace a legend, one of the greatest of all-time.’ My dad played football growing up. He’s in the sports business. You realize professional sports people come and they go,” said Luck. “Someone’s going to replace me eventually. Hopefully later rather than sooner. I never really worried about it. Guys in the locker room didn’t make it feel like I had to be someone.
“They let me be myself, let me do things as I did. It wasn’t difficult at all.”
Nor has it been to dismiss the storyline that was so prominent just 11 months ago.