DENVER – From 1969 to Thursday night, no NFL player had thrown seven touchdowns in a game.
But, we haven't seen many players like Peyton Manning in the last 44 years, either.
Manning threw seven touchdowns in a game at 37 years old. He's supposed to be getting ready for retirement, like John Elway, Dan Marino, Joe Montana and Steve Young did at age 38. But it seems like Manning's prime might last forever.
When Manning threw his sixth touchdown, it was the third time in his career he had done that, which is a NFL record. His seventh came on a quick screen to Demaryius Thomas, who took it 78 yards for the record-tying score. And this wasn't against a terrible team playing out the string; this came on opening night against the defending Super Bowl champions, the same team that beat Denver in the playoffs last year. He completed 27-of-42 passes for 462 yards, to go with those seven touchdowns. He's the sixth player in NFL history to throw seven touchdowns in a game. The Broncos steamrolled the Ravens 49-27 in the NFL's kickoff game on Thursday night.
This was the type of performance that people will talk about many, many years from now. Remember when Manning threw seven touchdowns that Thursday night in Denver against the defending champs?
Make no mistake, this win doesn't make up for the loss to the Ravens in the playoffs last January. But the way Manning played, and way the rest of the team rallied around him, it sure seems the Broncos are confident they can make up for that playoff disappointment this year.
The only way you could tell this wasn't the same Manning from his late 20s was the way some balls fluttered. He doesn't have a great deep ball anymore. But he always found the open guy. Julius Thomas got in the end zone twice. Wes Welker scored twice. So did Thomas. Andre Caldwell had the other score. The last time someone threw seven touchdowns in a game was Sept. 28, 1969, when Joe Kapp did it.
Manning finished second to Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson in the MVP voting last year. Manning had a tremendous season, his first in Denver. Manning has a great chance to win his fifth MVP this season. The team is going to ask him to do a lot, without a proven running game and especially when the defense is without suspended linebacker Von Miller. Denver's addition of Welker might help Manning put up numbers he never has before, not even in his Colts days.
It's one week. There are countless stories of a team playing well in the season opener and that being a laughable memory by the time their season quietly passes in December. But it sure seems like Manning and the Broncos are serious about making up for what happened here last January. Especially if Manning continues to play like the end of his prime is nowhere in sight.