Despite the big numbers, Peyton Manning did throw a couple of interceptions as the Denver Broncos won in a misleading 41-20 score over the Arizona Cardinals, resorted to play with their third quarterback, Logan Thomas, after Drew Stanton left with a concussion. Their defense is good, but there comes a point when staying on the field for so long makes it impossible to stop the best offense in the NFL.
So Manning cut them up, while the Cardinals kept going for short three and outs, especially after Thomas came on. Logan Thomas was something of a disappointment in college as well, never showing the progress Virginia Tech had hopes to see from a terrific athlete, but someone without the decision making usually required from successful QBs. He completed just 1-of-81 passes for 81 yards, although that one completion turned out to be a touchdown pass to Andre Ellington, catching four passes for 112 yards and a touchdown.
For three quarters, the Broncos couldn’t escape a persistent, stubborn and tough team, leading 24-20 entering the fourth quarter. But not being able to do anything on offense meant too many minutes for an already banged up defense to spend on the field. Manning, already making mistakes with a couple of bad throws, wasn’t going to do them again, as he set out to set some records while helping his teammates reach some milestones as well.
Manning finished with four touchdown passes and 479 passing yards. On the way he reached the 500 touchdown passes mark, only the second quarterback in NFL history to do so, joining the all-time leader Brett Favre, who’ll fall down to number two at some point this season. With 568 offensive yards, it was a new record for the Broncos, surpassing their 567 from 2004 against the Falcons. Demaryius Thomas, catching 8 passes for 226 yards and a couple of touchdowns, set a new personal high and a new franchise record for the Broncos, while also posting the most yards by a receiver this season in the NFL.
The Cardinals were able to hang on in the game because of the Manning turnovers. Drew Stanton was just averaging 4.5 yards per attempt. Ellington carried the ball 16 times and averaged two yards per carry. The Cardinals finished with just 215 yards on offense, losing for the first time this season. Keeping up with the Broncos for so long was a bit too much to ask for a team running on an almost empty tank at this point considering all those that are missing.
The Broncos aren’t all offense. They got to the quarterbacks quite often, recording three sacks and 10 QB hits on the throwers. This was a game dominated by one team, although just the fourth quarter actually showed for it. Their running game is something of a mess even with Manning allowing so many openings, but the Cardinals are tough to run against in any case. A team on a mission to put the nightmare of the Supr Bowl behind them by reaching and winning the next one as well. So far they’re on the right path.