Before the 2013 NFL season began, the 37-year-old future Hall of Famer had his skeptics. They presupposed Manning would never be able to repossess the unique ingenuity he had before the multiple neck and shoulder surgeries. They couldn't have been more wrong: Manning made this year his.
The Denver Broncos came, saw and conquered the 2013 NFL regular season. The team, led by head coach John Fox and Manning were tied with the Seattle Seahawks for the best record in the NFL. The team won 13 games, lost three and clinched the AFC West.
With Manning at quarterback position, the Broncos offence flourished. They led the league in points per game, total yards per game and passing yards per game. After the last game of the season against the Oakland Raiders, the Broncos owned the NFL record for most points, 606, scored in a regular season, cancelling out New England Patriot’s 2007 record of 589 points.
Even though the Broncos are blessed with multiple offensive weapons, it was Manning’s play that kept the motor running for Fox. The 16 year veteran’s harmonious demeanor kept the offense running dexterously.
His presence gave the running game room to blossom. Knowshon Moreno, the fifth year running back out of Georgia, had a breakout year this season. He ran for 1038 yards on 241 rushes, scoring 10 rushing touchdowns.
The one time Super Bowl champion started his exceptional season with a bang against defending Super Bowl champions, Baltimore Ravens. In a game that gave the viewers a sneak peak of things to come. He perturbed Baltimore’s secondary with his quick release and pin-point accuracy. Manning attempted 42 passes, completed 27 passes for 462 yards and seven touchdowns, in a 49-27 victory. His performances week-in, week-out didn't retrogress even in week seven's loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Not until week 12 against his arch-nemesis, Tom Brady, did Manning show some signs of mortality. The hot-handed quarterback met his match in the form of Bill Belichick’s defense. He attempted 36 passes, completed 19 for 150 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the 34-31 defeat.
But the strong-willed quarterback didn't let his poor performance affect his mindset. Manning went back to the drawing board and Kansas City Chiefs were unfortunate victims the next week. In his best performance of the season, the former Tennessee quarterback tore apart Andy Reid’s defense. Manning attempted 35 passes, completed 22 for 403 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions, in a 35-28 victory at Arrowhead Stadium.
Through the course of the season, Manning threw at least 300 yards in 12 games and 400 or more yards in four games. Manning kept his deep receiving core happy by distributing the ball equitably. He completed 60 or more passes to five players, two of which, ended the season with over 1,000 yards receiving.
Damaryius Thomas, the receiver who caught Tim Tebow’s touchdown pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a playoff win, was Manning’s top receiver this season. The 26-year-old wide receiver out of Georgia Tech caught 92 passes for 1,430 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Eric Decker was the Broncos second receiver with over 1,000 receptions. The fourth year man out of Minnesota hauled in 87 catches for 1,288 yards and eleven scores.
This season, Archie Manning’s second son shook NFL’s record book with his thunderous right hand. He took down New Orleans Saints Drew Brees’ record for most passing yards in a season, 5,476 yards, by one yard.
With 5,477 yard this season, Manning reached 5,000 passing yards in a season for the first time in his career. He has the second highest passing yards with 64,964 passing yard, currently sitting behind Brett Favre, who has 71,838 passing yards.
Manning also broke Tom Brady’s touchdown record by throwing 55 touchdowns in 2013. The record was 50 touchdowns, set by Brady during his remarkable 2007 season. By this time next year, Manning should be the quarterback with the most career touchdowns in the NFL; he trails Brett Favre 17.
Going into the playoffs, the Broncos will look to their experienced leader to lead them to the Promised Land. And if Manning can carry his 2013 momentum into the New Year, we could see him hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.