Manning, Luck have opposite openers

Associated Press Published: September 10, 2012

A football tucked under his arm along with a victory, Peyton Manning could feel very comfortable in Denver.

A win in your first game with a new team will do that.

His replacement with the Colts, Andrew Luck, wasn't feeling anywhere near as satisfied Sunday. Then again, not many people thought his NFL debut would go smoothly.

Manning made a successful return to the NFL from a year off recovering from neck surgeries, leading the Broncos past the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19. The four-time MVP completed 19 of 26 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns, including a 71-yarder to Demaryius Thomas that was the 400th of his career.

"It's just one game ... and we should try to keep it in perspective," he said. "I do know how hard I've worked to get here ... and it feels good. It's special. I definitely would say it's special."

Luck probably won't be using that description. He didn't do any better than Manning managed in his debut back in 1998.

In a 41-21 loss at Chicago, the top overall draft pick was 23 of 45 for 309 yards and a touchdown. But he also threw three interceptions and was sacked three times.

Fourteen years ago, Manning went a slightly better 21 of 37 for 302 yards, but likewise threw three interceptions to a single TD pass.

"There will be a lot of positives, a lot of negatives. We'll try to learn from it," Luck said. "I'm still disappointed fresh off what happened, but we'll get over it."

Four other rookie quarterbacks made their NFL debuts Sunday. Robert Griffin III, the Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor and the No. 2 overall selection by the Redskins, was sensational and got the only win of his QB class. He went 19 for 26 for 320 yards and two touchdowns and added 42 yards rushing in a stunning 40-32 victory at New Orleans — the Saints' first game since the NFL punished them for their bounty program.

Miami's Ryan Tannehill struggled mightily in a 30-10 defeat at Houston, going 20 for 36 for 219 yards with three interceptions. Cleveland's Brandon Weeden was worse: 12 of 35 for 118 yards and four interceptions in a 17-16 loss to Philadelphia. And Seattle's Russell Wilson was 18 of 34 for 153 yards with a touchdown and an interception and rushed for 20 yards in a 20-16 loss at Arizona.

Also, San Francisco shocked Green Bay at Lambeau Field 30-22, New England beat Tennessee 34-13, Minnesota outlasted Jacksonville 26-23 in overtime, the New York Jets took Buffalo 48-28, Detroit beat St. Louis 27-23, Atlanta took Kansas City 40-24, and Tampa Bay defeated Carolina 16-10.

On Wednesday night, Dallas upended the defending NFL champion New York Giants 24-17.

The opening weekend concludes Monday night with Cincinnati at Baltimore and San Diego at Oakland.

Replacement officials were in the spotlight in two places.

At Detroit, Shannon Eastin became the first woman to officiate an NFL regular-season game when she worked as a line judge. At Arizona, the officials gave an extra timeout in the final minute to the Seahawks, who still couldn't pull out their game with the Cardinals.


Broncos 31, Steelers 19

At Denver, Manning threw his 400th touchdown pass in his 208th career game. Dan Marino did it in his 227th game and Brett Favre in his 228th.

But he also spent plenty of time watching.

Roethlisberger led a clock-chewing offense that had the ball for 10 minutes longer than Denver did. At one point, Roethlisberger had taken 30 snaps to Manning's one — a kneel-down — during two monstrous drives that spanned halftime.

"Roethlisberger was awesome on third down," Manning said of Pittsburgh's 11-of-19 conversion rate. "Wasn't much fun sitting on the bench there all night. Great job by our defense in the end, getting that turnover."

Tracy Porter's 43-yard interception return of Roethlisberger's pass with 2 minutes left sealed the win.

Manning was sacked twice and both times bounced right up with no issues.

"There's always a lot of unknowns going into the first week," he said, knowing that his Broncos were 1-0.


Bears 41, Colts 21

At Chicago, Luck had a nice connection with one of Manning's favorites, wideout Reggie Wayne, who caught nine passes for 135 yards. But it wasn't nearly enough.

Jay Cutler threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns and Michael Bush added a pair of scoring runs for the Bears. Brandon Marshall had nine catches for 119 yards and a touchdown in his first game since being reunited with Cutler, and Matt Forte ran for 80 yards and a score.


Redskins 40, Saints 32

At New Orleans, RG3 began his NFL career by connecting on 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns. Griffin completed his first eight passes, including an 88-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon, tying for the second-longest scoring pass by a quarterback making his NFL debut.

"I've won a high school state championship and a bowl game in college, but to play in the NFL, the pinnacle of it all, and win your first game against a Hall of Famer in Drew Brees, it's at the top," Griffin said while cradling the game ball he had just been given. "After the game, (Brees) told me he was proud of me. That's big for him to say after he just lost the game."

Brees uncharacteristically struggled with accuracy, completing only 46 percent of his throws with two interceptions.


Texans 30, Dolphins 10

At Houston, Tannehill threw three interceptions in a 6-minute stretch late in the first half, and the Texans opened impressively in what they believe can be a Super Bowl season.

Arian Foster had two touchdown runs, while Matt Schaub threw a TD pass to Andre Johnson, who finished with 119 yards receiving. Texans defensive end J.J. Watt deflected two passes that resulted in interceptions and also had 1½ sacks.

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