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Steelers Vs. Broncos Reactions: Peyton Manning Dices Steeler Defense

The Pittsburgh Steelers' defense is always one of the team's strong suits, but they looked hapless against a masterful return performance from Peyton Manning Sunday night.

Manning, as you might know, missed the entire 2011 season with a neck injury, but didn't miss a beat in his first game action with the Denver Broncos. Manning threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in his team's 31-19 win - meaning there was nothing Steelers fans could do but be awed by Manning's outing.

It wasn't so much accurate throws - although he had plenty of them - it was his presnap reads, adjustments, protection slides and blitz recognition that made his game truly special. The mental battle he played with the Steelers' defense was won soundly, often utilizing Denver's hurry-up offense to get the Steelers to expose their intentions.

The important takeaway for Steelers fans is that while the loss may not be an optimal start to a season, failure to stop a brilliant performance by a future Hall of Famer shouldn't be cause for alarm when it comes to Pittsburgh's passing defense.

It was precise, intricate and extremely difficult to defend. While Manning clearly beat the Steelers' defense, there's only so much any defense is going to be able to do for a quarterback who was as mentally prepared as Manning was.

For more on the Steelers, check out Behind the Steel Curtain, and continue to read SB Nation Pittsburgh for the latest news and updates.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.