Peyton Manning struggled in his second game as Denver's quarterback,… (David Goldman / Associated…)
Peyton Manning is 1-1 after his first two starts with Denver. Guess who had the same record after his initial two outings as the Broncos' full-time quarterback last season?
Tim Tebow, of course. You remember him, don't you, Broncos fans? The guy who led your favorite team to one seemingly miraculous victory after another for much of the 2011 season and into the second round of the playoffs before being shipped off to the New York Jets in favor of future Hall of Famer Manning.
Obviously Manning has a much better resume than Tebow. The former Indianapolis Colts star has two Super Bowl appearances -- one of which garnered him a championship ring and most valuable player honors -- and a record four league MVPs. He also has much more of the skills required of an NFL quarterback than Tebow seems to possess.
But Tebow -- somehow, someway -- got wins for the Broncos. Only two games into Manning's tenure with the team, we don't yet know if he will be able to do the same.
It appeared that way in Week 1, when Manning completed 19 of 26 passes for 253 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 129.2 passer rating in a 31-19 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Broncos fans and media members alike were convinced he hadn't missed a beat after a year away from the game recovering from four neck surgeries.
But then came Monday night's 27-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, during which Manning threw interceptions on each of the Broncos' first three possessions and completed 24 of 37 passes for 241 yards, one touchdown and a 58.5 passer rating.
Like Manning, Tebow also won his first game as the Broncos' regular starter (not counting the three meaningless games he started at the end of the 2010 season), although he didn't look as good doing it. At least not until the final three minutes of regulation, when he threw a pair of touchdown passes to force overtime and help Denver emerge with an 18-15 victory.
Tebow's second start of the year, however, was a 45-10 loss to the Detroit Lions that saw the quarterback complete 18 of 39 passes for 172 yards, a touchdown, an interception and a passer rating of 56.8.
But Tebow and the Broncos bounced back after that, rattling off six straight victories, many in dramatic fashion. Tebow rarely looked like the prototypical NFL quarterback, but he got the job done much of the time.
Manning is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. But can he still get the job done? It's impossible to tell after only two games. Let's see how he does in the next six -- just remember that his predecessor was 7-1 after his first eight starts last year.
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