A game that was about Peyton Manning setting a new passing touchdowns record, but it also had less historic implications, as Colin Kaepernick couldn’t rescue his team from looking very bad on their visit to the Denver Broncos, losing 42-17, and it wasn’t even that close.
Manning threw four touchdown passes to set him apart from the rest of the NFL’s quarterbacks, reaching 510, now two ahead of Brett Favre and miles ahead of the rest. The closest to Manning among active quarterbacks is Drew Brees, three years younger than Manning but 136 touchdowns behind. Tom Brady is next on that list, slightly younger than Manning as well, with 372 touchdown passes so far, and not someone who is likely to pose a threat to a record we might not see get broken anytime soon.
But there was also a game, besides the festivities surrounding Manning. He did finish with 318 yards on an almost perfect 22-of-26 performance, but this was also the best we’ve seen from the Broncos all season long, as they improve to 5-1 this year, their only loss coming in overtime against the Seahawks. They don’t just have the man most likely to win MVP once again, but also looking like the best team in the NFL.
The 49ers managed to keep it close in the first half, heading into the locker room behind by 11 points, but then they gave up 21 consecutive points before going on the board again. The running game wasn’t in existence (only 62 yards on 18 carries), there was very little pressure on Manning all game long. Colin Kaepernick had nice numbers: 24-of-39 for 263 yards with a touchdown and interception, but he hardly got anything done with his feet, and had to deal with the pass-rush all game long, sacked six times and taken to the ground a few more as well.
The biggest difference besides the scoreline was how the quarterbacks handled their third down situation. The Broncos finished with 5-of-9 while the 49ers were at a 3-for-13. Kaepernick didn’t even get to throw the touchdown at the end of the game, taken off before he got seriously hurt, replaced by Blaine Gabbert. Kaepernick was awful on third downs with 3-of-8 when throwing, getting the first down only 18% of the time, sacked three times and intercepted once. Manning was a perfect 6-for-6 on third down, including throwing his two touchdown passes.
The running game was there for the Broncos unlike a lot of other times this season. Ronnie Hillman did a very good job with 74 yards on 14 carries, scoring two touchdowns in the third quarter as the Broncos were running away with the game, including a 37-yard run for the score. Juwan Thompson helped out with 30 yards on six carries, although the big offensive star was Demaryius Thomas with 8 receptions for 171 yards and a couple of touchdowns. Wes Welker and Emmanuel Sanders caught a touchdown pass as well.
The 49ers fall to 4-3, but that’s not the end of the world. The NFC West is different because the Seahawks are having problems of their own, while the Cardinals are surprising everyone with the first place, while the St. Louis Rams make themselves finally noticed. The Broncos passed one of their toughest games this season with flying colors, and had all the time to celebrate another example of just how great Peyton Manning is.