Through the first six games of the season, Peyton Manning was considered the weak link on the Denver Broncos.
Well, if Manning is the weak link on this team – which dominated the previously unbeaten Green Bay Packers, 29-10, on Sunday night – then the Broncos are in good hands the rest of the way.
Manning threw an interception and finished without a touchdown against Green Bay, but he was also 21-of-29 for 340 yards, routinely dissecting the Packers secondary with ease.
“Yeah, Peyton Manning played well – better than he’s played all year – and they were helped by the Green Bay defense,” Pro Football Focus analyst Sam Monson said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “The Packers were almost giving him the middle of the field, short. I think if you can do that with Manning and force him over the top, try and get him to throw deep against the defense in the middle of the field, I think that’s the right idea because those are the throws that I don’t think he can make anymore with that arm. Those are the throws that he puts the ball in harm’s way, but if you give him the underneath, he’s perfectly capable of just hitting crossing patterns all day and really lighting you up with some pretty good receivers. So it’s not that surprising that the Broncos was able to have joy against Green Bay’s defense and do as well as they did.”
Demaryius Thomas caught eight balls for 168 yards, and the ground game produced 160 yards and three scores on 34 carries.
As for the Denver defense? Wow.
“I think the bigger story is that that defense completely shut down Aaron Rodgers and made him look like a bad quarterback,” Monson said. “We know Rodgers is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL right now, but between the pressure he was getting upfront and that Broncos secondary just completely locking down every single receiver the Packers had, he had nowhere to go with the ball. He just had nothing to do. He just became kind of confused in the pocket, trying to get things done himself. It was amazing to see a defense play that well almost across the board.”
The Packers, who have had one of the top offenses in football for several years, were held to just one touchdown. Rodgers finished 14of-22 for 77 yards, three sacks and a fumble.
“Between the pocket closing in on him and his receivers just being blanketed all day by the Denver secondary – that defense is such a complete unit now,” Monson said. “At every single level, you’ve got high quality. They can bring a pass rush from everywhere upfront, they can lock you down in the secondary all across the field and the linebackers are pretty good. This is genuinely one of the best defenses for years. It’s right up there with that Seahawks defense from a couple years ago.”
With the win, Denver improves to 7-0 and will travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts this Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET. Manning, of course, played for Indianapolis from 1998 to 2011.