It’s hard to find anything wrong with the way the Denver Broncos have been playing so far, unless you count the garbage time points they’ve allowed as an issue. Reigning supreme over all this relative perfection is Peyton Manning, who might have impossibly gotten better this season.
The Denver Broncos aren’t just walking all over opponents so far this season – they’re setting records while doing so. After beating the Oakland Raiders 37-21, they’ve scored 127 points through the first three games (second most in NFL history) and gained 1460 yards on offense (fourth-best in NFL history).
After such a strong start to the season, winning their 14th consecutive regular season game, the only thing remaining is waiting to see how well these Broncos do in the playoffs, because it seems that anything they’ll be facing in the regular season won’t be enough of a challenge.
Peyton Manning couldn’t have played a more perfect game. The Raiders entered it leading the league in sacks, but couldn’t get to Manning, who completed 32-of-37 passes, and all of his 37 passes were on target. The five incompletions were either dropped or deflected by a defender. The 374 yards and 3 touchdowns mean less. The fact that Manning can’t make a bad throw at this moment (73% completion this season with 12 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, along with a 134.7 passer rating) means more than the numbers.
His 37 pass attempts without an off-target throw are the most by a quarterback in a single game since 2008. He was even closer to perfection when throwing to his wide receivers, completing 25-of-27 passes, including his first 20 attempts to the trio of Decker, Welker and Thomas.
We get to play with one of the greatest quarterbacks and football players to ever play the game. He’s great. There’s no other way to cut it up or slice it. You see what he can do. I don’t even know too many people who can do that in ‘Madden.’ It’s pretty cool to have a quarterback like that.
Manning relied on the talent of his receivers – Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas, to gain yards for him. He averaged only 6.6 yards of air distance on his attempts in the win, while his receivers had a combined 130 yards after the catch. The Broncos are leading the NFL in yards after the catch this season with 335, as their shorter passing game than before seems to be too much to handle for defenses.
The man enjoying Manning’s passing more than anyone else seems to be Wes Welker, who has been targeted 27 times this season, ending up with four touchdowns so far, including another one, along with 7 catches for 84 yards, against the Raiders. That average of a touchdown every 6.8 targets is almost twice as better than any of his season getting thrown at by Tom Brady.
There was some defense to the game, as Terrelle Pryor was knocked out with a concussion and limited to only 36 yards on 4 carries, with the Broncos forcing him to throw. He didn’t do badly – 19-of-28 for 281 yards and a touchdown, but the Raiders were never close, down 17-0 early in the second quarter.
Darren McFadden never got it going as well (although he did throw a touchdown pass), running for only 9 yards on 12 carries. McFadden finished with negative three yards before contact on rushes between the tackles, the fewest in his career.
The Brocnos have tougher tests than what the last couple of weeks have brought them, but right now, it doesn’t seem like there’s any reason for them to be worried about anything that might come, especially with their quarterback playing like during his best days with the Indianapolis Colts.