He finished 22-of-26 passing for 318 yards. And a near perfect quarterback rating. But a week 7 win over the San Francisco 49ers isn’t going to get the attention it should until maybe later in the year when analysts pick and decide how successful a season was. Or how important each win was (see Denver-Seattle preseason game in 2013).
Despite being absolutely dominate – a Denver 42-17 win at Mile High – over the 49ers as a team, the attention will surround Peyton Manning become the greatest statistical quarterback of all time. When Manning caught then passed Brett Favre for the most touchdown passes in NFL history. That kind of honor should always be first and foremost.
So even as great as Manning has been – and as great as he was tonight. This win has a lot to do with the defensive efforts. Counting the trash yards against the backup defensive in the 4th quarter the Broncos gave up just 62 yards rushing and sacked 49er QB Colin Kapernick 6 times for 53 yards (almost as many as San Francisco had rushing. Defensive end Demarcus Ware recorded three sacks while Von Miller stayed one up on Ware for the season with two sacks.
“Our most complete game to date,” said Broncos’ coach John Fox after the game. “Both offensively and defensively as well as in the kicking game. That’s what you try to do in this league; improve every day.”
But the offense was the bigger story.
Of Manning’s four touchdown passes, only the first one was an easy throw. A 5-yard passing at the goal line on a crossing pattern to Emmanuel Sanders. (Okay, the back judge helped get Sanders free with a pick). The other three touchdowns were pure art in the throws, the catches and runs after. Wes Welker caught No. 508 on a shallow fly route set up with a fake screen. Welker ran the other 30 yards and dived over the endzone pylon. Then the record breaker was a perfect throw to Demaryius Thomas on a quick out pattern from only the 5-yard line. The throw was perfect, but Thomas’ soft hands and delicate footwork completed the play. And the record.
“It’s special because of the way the team played,” Manning said after the game. “That’s what I told the team (in the lockerroom), it’s a lot more special because of the way the team played as a whole.”
Now it one to a VERY short week. The Broncos host the San Diego Chargers on Thursday night. Not many with the Denver Broncos organization are happy with any of the Thursday night games. But to have to play on a Sunday night . . . vs NFC runner-up 49ers . . . to have to play three days later . . . vs an AFC West foe . . . it doesn’t seem like the NFL is taking care of their players. Or the Broncos.
Manning wore a green and yellow tie in his post-game press conference. A nod to Favre? Maybe, no one asked, but Manning is that kind of NFL historian. Wouldn’t be surprised.