4. 2012: Broncos 31, Steelers 19
The 2012 Sunday Night opener had lots of things going for it. The Broncos were wearing orange as their primary color for the first time since 1996, giving the blue jerseys the "alternate uniform" distinction. The Steelers were seeking revenge after the Tim Tebow-led Broncos bounced them from the previous year's playoffs. Oh... it was also Peyton Manning's debut as a Bronco.
In a thrilling 31-19 win over the Steelers, Manning looked like the legend we all knew him to be. He did not post an insane stat line, nor did he make many flashy passes, but he was in total control of the offense.
Manning would throw for 253 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions. One of his touchdown passes was a screen pass Demaryius Thomas took 80 yards to the house- a play we would see replicated time and time again in the Manning era- his other touchdown was a one-yard pass to Jacob Tamme that put the Broncos up 22-19 in the fourth quarter.
With around two minutes remaining, Denver clung to a 25-19 lead with Pittsburgh threatening to go on a game-winning touchdown drive. That was when Tracey Porter, the man who daggered Manning's Colts with a pick-six in Super Bowl XLIV, intercepted Ben Roethlisberger and returned it for a touchdown. Porter's pick-six sealed the victory for Denver, and Manning's debut ended in a beautifully poetic way.
Peyton Manning's first game as a Bronco will likely live on in the memory of Denver fans as long as time allows. This was Peyton freaking Manning... in Denver... wearing blue and orange. After seeing "The Sheriff" dawn the blue and white for 14 seasons, seeing him in a Broncos uniform was admittedly jarring, but by the time his debut was over, everyone in Broncos country was used to the new look.