Posted September 12, 2012 on AP on Fox
(Eds: Updates. With AP Photos.) By ARNIE STAPLETON AP Pro Football Writer Demaryius Thomas sure has a knack for dashing into history. Eight months after scoring the longest overtime touchdown in NFL playoff annals, the Denver Broncos' big receiver burned the Pittsburgh Steelers again by hauling in Peyton Manning's 400th touchdown toss. In January, it was an 80-yard grab from Tim Tebow on a crossing pattern that secured Denver's first playoff win in six seasons. On Sunday night, he turned a ''smoke screen'' designed to beat the blitz and gain about 10 yards into a 71-yard score. With that, Manning joined Brett Favre and Dan Marino in the exclusive 400-TD club. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, Thomas is the biggest target Manning has had in his 15 seasons as a pro, but it was his speed that took Manning aback. ''We weren't thinking an 80-yard touchdown. Maybe a 9-yard gain is kind of what I was thinking,'' Manning said. ''So, it sure was a nice surprise.'' Manning marveled at the blocks Thomas got, but noted ''Demaryius did a majority of the work and really turned it on with great speed.'' Thomas figured that having his first full training camp in his third pro season would translate into a fast start, and he was right. He was dogged by a broken foot, sprained ankle, concussion, torn Achilles and fractured finger in his first two seasons after leaving Georgia Tech following his junior season. He missed training camp his rookie year after aggravating a foot injury and he missed last year's camp after tearing an Achilles tendon in offseason workouts. He was coming off yet another surgery, to remove pins in his left pinkie, when Manning signed with the Broncos in March. So, he got a late start working on his rhythm and rapport with his new quarterback while fellow starting wide receiver Eric Decker quickly became Manning's workout partner. Thomas, however, quickly caught up when he was healthy. ''Being able to go through OTAs, minicamps and all with a new quarterback, it was a big deal,'' Thomas said. ''I feel like everything just got better and better as we went on. It's better to get the reps on the field than just sitting in meetings and watching. It was great for me to be healthy this year to get the actual reps instead of the mental reps.'' If Thomas, who had five catches for 110 yards in the opener, can stay healthy, he'll be a big boost for Denver's retooled offense. After missing the first five games last year, Thomas was spectacular down the stretch. In December and January, his 35 catches for 745 yards, four touchdowns and a 109.3-yard receiving average were second only to Detroit's Calvin Johnson and came despite Thomas playing in an ultra-conservative option offense. With Tebow around, opponents often left Thomas in single coverage so they could stack the line of scrimmage to stuff the run. With Manning at quarterback, Thomas is adjusting to crowded coverages. ''It's a lot of different when Tebow was playing and it was nine (defenders) in the box all the time. All I had to do was beat man'' coverage, Thomas said. ''Now it's cover-eight, cover-six, cover-two. ... But I think I'll have a good year if I can stay healthy.'' Thomas said he's a better receiver for having a perfectionist like Manning as his QB. ''He's made me a smarter receiver and taught me how to run routes the way he wanted them, the way to get open,'' Thomas said. ''Basically, I had to change up some things that I wasn't doing before. Working with Peyton helped me.'' --- Online: and --- Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton on Twitter:

Peyton Manning already has his own corn field maze in Colorado

Yeesh, that didn’t take long.  Barely one game into his tenure as starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos and already Peyton Manning has his own corn field maze, located just outside Greeley, Colorado.  He was a god in Indianapolis and I don’t remember any farmer’s doing this for him during his time with the Colts.  Could be that there aren’t many corn fields in the...

Atlanta's Mike Nolan still trying to solve Manning

As a defensive coordinator and head coach, Mike Nolan has just one victory in seven tries against quarterback Peyton Manning. Nolan, in his first season as coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons, hopes to change his luck when Manning and the Denver Broncos visit the Georgia Dome on Monday night. Manning returned from a 20-month layoff following neck surgery to lead the Broncos to four...

Broncos’ Peyton Manning to stick his neck out on Sports Illustrated cover

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) warms up before an NFL preseason football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Denver, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) Hope you don’t believe in the Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx — this latest news is likely to give you a sore neck. Peyton Manning, fresh off his on-field Denver Broncos debut, will make his in-newsstands...

Falcons prepare for Peyton Manning challenge

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. Coming off a 19-for-26 performance for 253 passing yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in an impressive 31-19 victory over Pittsburgh, Denver quarterback Peyton Manning showed the football world last Sunday that while he might have been playing his first game in two seasons, he is no less dangerous a player. On Monday night when he visits the Georgia...

So there’s a Peyton Manning corn maze now (PHOTO & VIDEO)

Think Broncos fans are excited about Peyton Manning’s debut? Check out this photo of Fritzler Farm Corn Maze in LaSalle, Colorado, whose owners decided to model their annual maze to look like Manning: The maze opens to the public on September 15th. I would just hate to get lost in the Manning Face. VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP

Manning's Denver debut does huge ratings

The Sunday night game at Denver between the Steelers and Broncos game was the highest-rated "Sunday Night Football" game ever and tied the 2010 NFL Kickoff opener as the highest-rated regular-season NFL game ever on NBC. NBC drew its highest-ever regular-season primetime rating in the 18-49 demographic, according to Neilsen data. Peyton Manning's first game as...

Peyton Manning: He is Who We Thought He Was

Manning silences the doubters as the Broncos get off to a hot start while the Chiefs stumble out of the gate at home against Atlanta.

Daily Links: Denver Broncos News – 9/11/12

Denver Broncos News Vote here for Peyton Manning as the GMC Never Say Never Moment for Week 1. [] The Denver Broncos have added a sixth center to their roster yesterday by signing Dan Koppen. I didn’t realize the position was so valued, then again, things must be pretty bad for the Broncos to be this desperate. [] Peyton Manning made history Sunday night by...

Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning No. 18 Broncos Jersey No. 1 in NFL Jersey Sales Week 1

Peyton Manning led the Denver Broncos to a week 1 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener of NFL Sunday Night Football. While No. 18 is wearing a new jersey in Denver, he was once again No. 1 in NFL jersey sales after week 1. Sitting out a full season did not hurt Manning on the field, and it did not hurt his popularity at all either. In fact, not only did Manning...

Peyton Manning: The Colts' Trash Turns Into Broncos' Treasure

We all wondered, so did Broncos President John Elway, head coach John Fox and his dad, Archie Manning. Is it gone? Did he lose the magic? For thirteen years, Peyton Manning spoiled us. As quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, he helped create a dynasty. In those thirteen years, the Colts made the playoffs eleven times. They won their division eight times , made it to the AFC championship...

Replacement officials mess up two-minute warning rule pointed out a big mistake the replacement officials made in Sunday night’s Steelers – Broncos match up. No matter how much the NFL tries to mask it, the replacement officials continue to struggle.  Another case in point from last night’s Broncos 31-19 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Peyton Manning and the Broncos scored a touchdown late in the fourth...

AP Pro32 comments about Broncos

Comments on the Denver Broncos by the AP Pro32 panel (ranking in parentheses): --- DENVER BRONCOS (6) Chris Berman (ESPN, 7) - Peyton Manning told us he was ready. He wasn't kidding. Clifton Brown (Sporting News, 7) - Peyton Manning played like he had never been away. He makes all of their weapons better. Cris Collinsworth (NBC Sports, 5) - Manning and a much improved run...

Morning football links

An Arkansas fan makes a music video for the Razorbacks – Throw The Flag Gene Chizik joins Dooley and Phillips on hot seat – Saturday Down South Strangers in a Strange Land – Friends of the Program Even a 4-year-old knows that nobody likes Georgia – The Victory Formation Peyton Manning is Back: Broncos Win 31-19 – The Big Lead The Original FSU Cowgirls: Where Are They...

Brett’s Picks For The Top Three Games of Week Two

With week one now officially in the books, we can finally turn our sights on week two. For fans of some teams, such as myself [Buffalo], week two brings about a chance to see if your team really is as awful as they looked in week one. Buffalo, Philadelphia, Miami, Cincinnati and New Orleans fans I am looking at you. For others, such as New York Jets, Denver, Baltimore, Atlanta and...

Captain Comeback: Broncos skewer Dick LeBeau defense again

Captain Comeback Scott Kacsmar starts Week 1 with Peyton Manning's historic night, Michael Vick's self-inflicted comeback, a first in Minnesota, and the front-running Green Bay Packers.
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.