Peyton's Place: The Broncos wasted no time making it known that Peyton Manning would be their starting quarterback on Sunday, making the announcement last week before they even knew the Steelers would be their opponent. Manning, who didn't start the final seven regular season games while plagued by injury, came in late against the San Diego Chargers in the season finale and led the Broncos on a game-winning drive.
"We have a great deal of respect for him and what he is capable of and how that might impact the game," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "It's simple. He is a first ballot Hall of Famer type. When you play those type of guys they are unique. There are certain things they do that are unique that others don't. It's not downgrading the capabilities of others, it's just they are special people in the football sense. He fits the bill in every regard."
- Same style offense: The last time the Steelers played the Broncos, a 34-27 win at Heinz Field on Dec. 20, Brock Osweiler was the Broncos starting quarterback. With Manning at the helm this week, Tomlin expects the Broncos to run the same type of offense, but one that will have a different feel with Manning at the helm.
"What he is able to do as far as administrating their offense is something that is to be dealt with, to be respected, and is something to dominate our thoughts as we prepare," said Tomlin. "Although their offense is very similar when he is in and when Brock is in, it's what Peyton Manning brings.
"Their run game picked up against San Diego when he came into the game because of the knowledge and experience and insight that he brings. He can look at a defense and get them in the correct protections. Protections get easier when you have a guy like him. The run game gets easier. The things he is able to do prior to the snap to undress defenses, gather information, make the journey easier for an offense needs no endorsement from me. We have to deal with it this week and we are working hard to do so."
Stepping up:** Last week quarterback Ben Roethlisberger challenged Martavis Bryant to "make tough catches," and toughen up. Bryant took the challenge head on, working hard all last week and the results showed against the Bengals when he had five catches for 29 yards, including a circus catch for a 10-yard touchdown, and had a 44-yard run on an end around.
"He got a vivid example about what a good week's preparation provides, which is positive play," said Tomlin. "The positive thing from my perspective is the manner in which he received the challenge from a veteran leader. He didn't get sensitive. He didn't go into a shell. He absorbed it like a professional and realized it was delivered in love and went about going to work and preparing and had a great week's preparation. I thought his play reflected that. Let that not only be a lesson to him, but a lesson to all of us. Quality preparation usually produces quality play. There is no substitute for the process of preparation."