We wanted Manning/Brady all season but were instead given Brady/Osweiler.

No one is mad about this – well, Patriots fans might be.

Yes, Brock Osweiler, playing in place of an injured Peyton Manning, led the Broncos to a thrilling 30-24 overtime win over the previously unbeaten Patriots on Sunday. Osweiler rallied the Broncos (9-2) from a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit, displaying good decision-making and, more importantly, a strong, accurate arm in the process.

Osweiler only has two starts under his belt, but the question must be asked: Could Manning – a future first-ballot Hall of Famer – have led the Broncos to victory against the Patriots in wintry conditions?

“I don’t know,” former Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “We’ve seen Peyton do it a number of times, even this season early on when it didn’t look great at all during the course of the game. But then when it came down to some of those two-minute situations, he was able to drive his team down the field. So I don’t know. I think we’ve seen him do it.”

But at 39, Manning doesn’t do it as well or as often or as smoothly as he once did. We used to expect Manning to win the game at the end; when he does that now, it almost seems surprising.

“I just think watching him playing during the majority of some of these games – as a former player that played against Peyton and a guy that kept me up many nights worrying about (stopping him) – watching him play recently has been sad,” Brown said. “It’s been disappointing. It’s been (concerning). How healthy is he? Why is he going back on the field? I think a part of me just wants to see him walk way before it gets even worse. I don’t know if he would have been able to do that last night against that defense because they gave Brock Osweiler some shots last night that I don’t think many guys would have gotten up from – Peyton being one of those guys. I don’t think he would have got up from some of those blows or got away from some of the pressure they put on Osweiler.”

Osweiler only ran twice for four yards, but he escaped pressure throughout the game. He finished 23-of-42 for 270 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

That one touchdown, by the way, gave Denver a 24-21 lead with just over a minute to play in regulation.

“He had a great game when he had to have a great game,” Brown said. “(He) completed some tough throws, and man, he’s got an arm on him. I just don’t know if Peyton at this point in his career would have been able to pull it off.”


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