Peyton Manning nipped Jack Frost at his nose Sunday afternoon.
The Broncos quarterback pitched another gem as he threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns, bringing his season total to 45. Manning is now in line to break Tom Brady’s single season touchdown record of 49 within the next two weeks.
Hopefully some of the Rockies scouts were in attendance. PFM threw fastballs with perfect precision to eight different Denver receivers. Manning completed 39 passes, nearly all of which spiraled beautifully.
Raise your hand if you thought PFM would throw the football 59 times in a game where the temperature was below freezing.
It was apparent Manning wanted to shut up his cold weather critics for good.
“Whoever wrote that narrative can shove that where the sun don’t shine,” he told Dave Logan of 850 KOA Denver during a postgame interview.
Can it be 13 degrees every Broncos game the rest of the year?
The Denver offensive line formed an incredible pocket for PFM nearly every pass play and the Knowshon Moreno-Montee Ball duo ran for 155 yards with two touchdowns.
But what I liked most was the decisions by John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
Several times in the first half, the offense converted key fourth downs. And with the game all but giftwrapped, Manning continued to throw with three minutes and change remaining.
That alone should tell fans that the conservative play-calling from the divisional playoff game last season is trashed.
The Broncos overwhelmed the Titans in first downs, total plays, total yards, time of possession and record-breaking field goals.
Matt Prater nailed the longest field goal in NFL history with a 64-yard boot that’s even more impressive considering the Siberian climate at Sports Authority Field.
After Shonn Greene scampered for a touchdown that put Tennessee ahead 21-10 in the second quarter, the Broncos outscored Ryan Fitzpatrick and company 41-7.
However, the Broncos will be without their Hall of Fame receiver Wes Welker against the Chargers. Welker suffered his second concussion in three weeks.
PFM did just fine without his favorite slot receiver in the second half. But don’t think he won’t need Welker in the playoffs. If there’s any doubt about Welker’s health in the next month, the Broncos should rest him.
I’ve run out of adjectives to describe the Denver defense. They did force two turnovers, but still project no reason to believe they’re of Super Bowl caliber.
Kudos to Terrance Knighton, Von Miller and Malik Jackson for making big plays.
But when a secondary regularly consists of backups like Kayvon Webster, Omar Bolden and Quentin Jammer, Super Bowl dreams can end quickly.
The trade deadline passed weeks ago and I’m not sure which, if any, free agents would be worth pursuing at this point.
The only logical help that might come on defense soon?
An average Champ Bailey (which would be better than the current options now) and a healthy Rahim Moore in January.
Until then, hope that PFM can keep shredding defenses.
Three keys to the San Diego game for Denver:
- Match their intensity. At 6-7, the Chargers somehow remain in the playoff hunt. Losing to Denver ends that hope. Consider this a playoff game for San Diego.
- Figure it out defensively. Philip Rivers has had a throwback year, leading a top five passing offense. He’ll have a field day if the Broncos secondary can’t buckle down.
- End it early. Thursday night games present a major fatigue challenge for both teams, but particularly the road team. Jumping on the Chargers in the first half would be ideal.
My prediction: Broncos-38, Chargers-27