Peyton Manning went down, got back up and the crowd cheered. They were even happier when he completed a 22-yard pass the very next play.
Knocked down Peyton Manning bounces back stronger
Peyton Manning drew his biggest ovation on an incomplete pass.
The Denver quarterback - a four-time MVP who missed all of last season with a neck injury that required four operations - was hit hard late in the first half on the Broncos pre-season game against Seattle.
The crowd at Mile High Stadium in Denver held its collective breath, then cheered as Manning bounced right back up, shook it off and threw a 22-yard pass to Brandon Stokley on the next play.
It was the highlight of a mostly forgettable home debut for Manning, whose Broncos lost 30-10 to the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night.
Manning had shown throughout training camp that his arm strength was back along with his accuracy. The only question left was whether he could take a hard hit after undergoing neck fusion surgery last September.
The answer came with 1:25 left in the first half when Seattle defensive end Bruce Irvin beat right tackle Orlando Franklin and had a clean shot at the quarterback.
"I came into the game trying to be the first one to get a shot on him since he's been back and I guess I succeeded," Irvin said.
"He's a great quarterback, got the ball out quick and it's hard to get to him. I just put on a good move and just so happened to get through."
Welcome back to the NFL, Peyton Manning.
"He didn't say anything. He moaned a little bit, though," Irvin said. "So I guess he really felt it. It was a good hit, good play and now it's time to move on."
Those were Manning's sentiments, too, after his first hit in 19 months.
"I never heard a crowd cheer for an incompletion before," Manning said. "I think the next pass was to Stokley, right? That's what I told you I was going to do."
Indeed, Manning had been saying for weeks that he only hoped that first big hit happened on first or second down so he could bounce back up and complete a long pass.
He could not decide what was better, getting that initial big blast out of the way or putting a halt to all the questions about whether he could still take a hit.
"Both of them are just fine with me," Manning said. As the ball sailed out of bounds, Manning popped up and the crowd went wild.
"We weren't worried about it. I think everybody else was," Stokley said. "Now, we don't have to hear about that anymore."
Instead, they can concentrate on all the mistakes they have been making.
Manning played the first half and gave the Broncos a 10-9 lead despite three turnovers, including an interception in the red zone for the second straight week, and another at midfield on a bad overthrow.
He looked great on one short drive just before half time, but that stalled when tight end Jacob Tamme dropped a wide-open touchdown pass.
Giants ground Jets to remain the kings of New York
The New York Giants, the Super Bowl champions, were all over Mark Sanchez. They got to Tim Tebow, too.
And when their domination of the two New York Jets quarterbacks was complete, the Giants had an easy and impressive 26-3 win over their rivals on Saturday night.
“We have a lot more to fix than the Giants do, clearly,”said Rex Ryan, the Jets coach.
The Giants got seven sacks, and rookie Jayron Hosley returned an interception of Sanchez 77 yards for a touchdown.
“We played good,” said Justin Tuck, the Giants defensive end. “Still a pre-season game, still got a lot of things to learn from, but I think we played fast. We played decisive.”
The Jets had some costly penalties and just could not give their quarterbacks much time to do anything. Embattled right tackle Wayne Hunter got manhandled for four sacks – including two by Jason Pierre-Paul – although one was negated by a penalty.
“As a defensive line, we were able to get some pressure,” Tuck said. “And that’s really what we need to do if we want to be a good defence.”
Sanchez finished 9 of 11 for 59 yards and the interception, but was under pressure on nearly every play. “Mark threw the ball well tonight,” Ryan said, “but it’s hard to throw when you’re flat on your back.”
Sanchez was also without injured wide receivers Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley and Chaz Schilens, and it showed. Through two pre-season games, the Jets have failed to score a touchdown. “We struggled,” Sanchez said. “We were good in spurts, but I know we can play better than that up front.”
Tebow, with his elusiveness and knack for comebacks, could not help the Jets. He led them to their only points of the night – a 30-yard field goal by Josh Brown – but was sacked four times and finished 5 of 14 for 69 yards.
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