Denver, Colo: The Denver Broncos defeated the San Francisco 49ers 42-17 on what proved to be a record-setting night for QB Peyton Manning. Coming into the matchup, the main narrative was Manning’s pursuit of the career TDs mark, belonging to Brett Favre. Manning didn’t disappoint, breaking the record on an 8-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas with 3:09 remaining in the second quarter, his third of the night.
It was one of just four TD passes for Manning, who finished 22/26 (84.6%) for 318 yards and 4 TDs and a ridiculous 157.2 passer rating. He tacked on a second score to Demaryius Thomas with a 40-yard strike in the third quarter. Immediately, celebrities such as Frank Caliendo, Rob Riggle, Ed McCaffrey and Mikaela Shiffrin took to Twitter to congratulate him.
The other two TDs went to Emmanuel Sanders and Wes Welker, their first TD catches of the season. Manning was pulled from the game in favor of QB Brock Osweiler in the third quarter. Osweiler was 0-1 on a great throw to rookie WR Isaiah Burse that the youngster couldn't hold onto.
Tailback Ronnie Hillman continued a career performance against New York with a second great game, notching 14 carries for 74 yards and two TDs. He also caught 4 balls on 4 targets for a total of 29 yards. His second score stretched the lead to 42-10 late in the third.
UDFA rookie RB Juwan Thompson continued a strong season, with 6 carries for 30 yards. Although Manning’s aerial performance will (deservedly) be the story of the evening, Demaryius Thomas’ 8 catches for 171 yards and two scores are not to be forgotten.
Defensively, the Broncos’ defense was able to contain, harass and hurry QB Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick completed just 24 of his 39 passes (61.5%) for 263 yards, a touchdown on a first-half two-minute-drill and an interception to Aqib Talib. He was also sacked 6 times, with DE DeMarcus Ware and LB Von Miller notching 3 and 2 sacks, respectively. This raises their season sack numbers to 9.0 (Miller) and 7.0 (Ware). Kaepernick gained just 18 yards on 3 rushes and had a passer rating of only 79.3.
The defense also continued a recent trend of shutting down the run, limiting All-Pro RB Frank Gore to 9 rushes for 20 yards. Backup QB Blaine Gabbert entered the game with under 3 minutes to go in the 4th quarter, and drove the 49ers to a score.
This game won’t be forgotten any time soon by the league. Manning showed that he still has it compared to young Kaepernick. Perhaps this is best summed up by the yards per pass attempt between the two teams: Denver 10.5, San Francisco 4.8.
The Broncos go into a short week and will face the San Diego Chargers at home Thursday night. Denver (5-1) is currently atop the AFC West standings, but San Diego (5-2) will prove to be a difficult contest.
Check out this uncannily accurate score prediction by our very own Brandon Peran.