After months of trying, and more wobbly Peyton Manning passes than one could possibly count, the Denver Broncos finally figured out how to play offensive football Sunday night in Detroit as they defeated the Lions 24-12 at Ford Field.
Manning was in his element throughout the night, going 31-of-42 for 324 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He looked comfortable, as head coach Gary Kubiak appears to have ceded control of the Denver offense to the five-time MVP, at least for the time-being.
The Broncos offense ran almost exclusively out of the shotgun and pistol formation. They did what so many in the national media had been hoping for, putting the game plan in Manning’s capable hands. He delivered, just as he’s done so many times.
Manning flashed impressive deep ball touch, completing deep passes outside the numbers to both Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. Manning told NBC’s Michelle Tafoya that his deep touchdown pass to Thomas on a 4th-and-1 play at the end of the first half set the tone for the game going forward.
“That throw to Demaryius really gave us some momentum going into the half,” Manning said.
However, the Broncos running game again failed to impress. Denver only managed to gain 41 yards on the ground. Manning’s former head coach Tony Dungy felt those numbers weren’t sufficient.
“They’re going to need to figure out the running game if they’re going to continue to win,” Dungy said during the post-game on NBC’s “Football Night in America.”
While the offensive load was left to Manning, he was once again given a considerable assist by the Broncos stingy defense. Denver allowed just 12 points to at talented Lions offense, forced two Matthew Stafford interceptions, sacking him four times.
Yet, the defensive play of the night wasn’t made by any of Denver’s highly paid defensive stars. Safety and special teams captain David Bruton intercepted Stafford just ahead of the two-minute warning. While certainly far from perfect, the Denver Broncos found a way to get a win against a motivated Lions team.
It's not easy winning on the road.
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