Found September 12, 2012 on Down and Distance:

With the first round of games completed in this 2012 NFL season, we’ve seen plenty of story lines pop up. Quarterbacks who had the weight of the world’s expectations on their shoulders stepped up and performed admirably. Some quarterbacks who were hyped up in the offseason by coaches, fans, and reporters didn’t show up prepared to play. And even one quarterback, a year removed from a game he regularly dominates, made a stunning return and showed everyone in the world that he is back to stay. Here are the top five quarterback performances of Week One.

5. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets

Hold the Tebow-presses! (Credit: AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

It’s safe to say that few players underwent as much scrutiny this offseason as Mark Sanchez did. Between living up to the pressure of playing in New York, the acquisition of Tim Tebow, and last season’s locker room divide, expectations were very low. Sanchez went up against a Buffalo defense, for whom expectations were sky-high, and executed at a very high level. Other than an early interception, Sanchez was on point all afternoon, and he showed extraordinary chemistry with young receivers Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley. Sanchez finished the day with 266 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, and an interception. Consider Tebow Mania on hold for the time being.

4. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Week 1′s top fantasy football scorer. (Credit: John Sleezer/Kansas City Star)

Ryan was the leading scorer for all of fantasy football in the season’s first week, amassing 299 passing yards and 3 touchdowns in addition to a rushing touchdown. For Ryan to be number 4 on the quarterback ranks this week indicates the high level of play that we saw across the league. We saw the aerial attack of the Falcons on display throughout the preseason, and it looks like the efforts will continue throughout the regular season. Ryan has many premier passing targets in Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez, so expect the gaudy numbers and premier performances to continue.

3. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

Joe Flacco carried the Baltimore offense this week. (Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images North America)

Like Sanchez and Ryan, Flacco has absorbed his fair share of criticism regarding whether he can take that next step towards being an elite NFL quarterback. In the first Monday Night Football matchup of the year, many were expecting a close-fought game to see who would seize power in the AFC North. Joe Flacco helped make sure that the Ravens made it a one-sided affair. Although Flacco got “only” 299 yards passing and 2 touchdowns, he was masterful in controlling the offense and has some considering him ready to take the next step toward elite quarterback status. The outlook for the rest of the season sure seems bright for Flacco and the Ravens.

2. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins

Is RG3 pointing to big things in the future? (Credit: AP Photo/Bill Haber)

RG3 was easily the best of the 5 rookie quarterbacks making their debut this past week. Had Griffin still thrown 2 picks he would have still been the best, but he managed to stay clean in that category, amassing 320 passing yards with 2 touchdowns, in addition to 42 yards rushing. And by the way, he did all that walking into the Superdome against the Saints. Everyone is expecting big things from RG3 this year, and in Week 1 he appeared ready to deliver on that promise. It will be interesting to see if RG3 has as prolific a rookie season as Cam Newton did last year.

1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning’s primetime return highlighted Week 1. (Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

It’s great to see Peyton Manning back on the NFL stage. It’s even better to see him play as good as he was before that series of neck surgeries. Manning threw for 253 yards and 2 touchdowns, carving up the Steelers pass defense with precise passes. That first touchdown drive, ending in Knowshon Moreno’s 7-yard TD run, made it seem as if Manning didn’t miss a game last year. John Elway has to be pleased that his new veteran quarterback is playing up to par, and it looks as if everything will be okay for the elder Manning brother.

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Down and Distance Columnist - Joe Ray @jpray_SK

The post Top 5 quarterback performances of Week One appeared first on DOWN & DISTANCE.

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