Returning to the Denver Broncos is 39-year-old Peyton Manning during their match against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.
Upon his return, the quarterback immediately made his presence felt as he helped the Broncos erase a 13-7 deficit and go home with the 27-20 win. The much-needed victory secured them home-field advantage through the playoffs.
Peyton Manning returns. Broncos win. pic.twitter.com/AKA9EOUchh
— Bleacher Report NFL (@BR_NFL) January 4, 2016
Head Coach Gary Kubiak reportedly approached Manning during half time, and asked if he could put the veteran in the field, to replace starting QB Brock Osweiler.
“I think I can go in there and do something,” the quarterback replied.
Brock Osweiler benched, Peyton Manning enters https://t.co/qlJfYSJ01Y
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 3, 2016
True enough, the five-time Most Valuable Player made the difference, and while he wasn’t his old, dominating self, Manning still made some tough plays for the Broncos.
He threw nine times and completed five passes for 69 yards. In addition, he also led four scoring dives to help Denver secure the top seed in the American Football Conference (AFC).
The Broncos players were happy with what Manning accomplished, and said that his mere presence on the field gave them a lift.
“The cheers, the energy surge, it changed the whole atmosphere,” said defensive end Antonio Smith.
“It lifted the whole stadium, it lifted the O-line, the O-line got with it,” cornerback Aqib Talib added.
While the Sports Illustrated NFL “Player of the Decade” (2000s) helped his team overcome the Chargers, it still remains a mystery whether the Broncos coaching staff would let him play major minutes in the playoffs.
— NESN (@NESN) November 25, 2015
Prior to the game, Manning’s last match was in Nov. 15 in a loss against the Kansas City Chiefs, where he tore his plantar fascia located near his left heel.
Since his injury, Peyton Manning has been under rehab and therapy for more than a month.