The Green Bay Packers came into the Denver Broncos house with an undefeated record, just like their opponent. It was a battle of unbeatens and one of them was going to come away with the loss. Many had the Broncos losing, due to their offense being far below average. However, their offense played some amazing football and they ended up pulling out the victory in a lopsided game.
Everything for the Broncos offense was clicking. The run game was on fire, due in large part to the offensive line playing excellently. Their pass game was close to par of what it was in 2013, minus the touchdowns. The best part though was that the offense was largely mistake free.
They had some penalties and one turnover, but both were fewer in number than in previous weeks. They moved the ball effectively, controlled the clock and tempo of the game, which with their defense, is all that is needed. More on the defense later on.
Now it is time to jump into the player grades. As always, I will begin with the starting quarterback and move on through the rest of the starters, before finally getting to those who subbed into the game. Also, any player who saw less than 10 snaps, will not receiver a grade, but will be mentioned at the end of the article.
Peyton Manning, QB
Snaps: 68. Stats: 21-of-29 for 340 yards and 1 interception.
Outside of the interception, Manning played an outstanding game. He did toss a few passes that were off target. Some of them still ended up completed, but they were very few. On one pass, he tempted fate by throwing into triple coverage, with two defenders in position to easily make a play on the ball. Fortunately, they had their heads turned, never saw the ball coming and the Broncos receiver made the catch.
Later in the game, Manning tried to tempt fate again, and this time it didn’t work out for him. He made a horrible read, and tossed the ball to a receiver who had his defender in front of him, and voila, interception. Those were the two worst plays to come from Manning, but they were two out of many good-great plays he made.
Ronnie Hillman, RB
Snaps: 38. Stats: 19 rushes for 60 yards and 2 touchdowns, 1 target, 1 catch for negative 5 yards.
Finally getting the start, Hillman’s speed was a major component in the Broncos successful running game. He was able to get to the edge quickly because of his speed, and often outran Packers defenders. On one touchdown run, Hillman ran into a pile, but had the vision, burst and balance to stay on his feet and score the touchdown.
Demaryius Thomas, WR
Snaps: 54. Stats: 11 targets, 8 catches for 168 yards.
Thomas played an amazing game. His speed and route running were excellent. The only thing that wasn’t great was his blocking. However, his blocking was good outside of a few runs. One run he gave up on early, and his assignment made the tackle. Afterwards, he knew he gave up and let the tackle happen and took the blame. After that, he continued to play until the whistle on each and every run.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR
Snaps: 59. Stats: 5 targets, 2 catches for 22 yards.
For the first time on the season, Sanders was held to under 50 yards receiving. It looked like the Packers planned for Sanders to take him out of the game. They did just that, except the Broncos just went elsewhere. Sanders was struggling to get separation from the Packers defenders, which took him away as a target for the majority of the game. As a blocker, Sanders was largely effective, but had moments where he was ineffective. That comes with the size of Sanders, and just being smaller than some of the defender he was taking on.
Owen Daniels, TE
Snaps: 50. Stats: 3 targets, 3 catches for 44 yards.
Daniels showed up to play for the first time on the season. He was able to get separation as a receiver, and pick up extra yards after the catch. While he looked slow after the catch, he was able to use what speed/burst he could. On top of that, he also looked tough after the catch, fighting for extra yards, instead of going down with first contact. As a blocker, he looked much improved from previous games, although still far from anything good.
Virgil Green, TE
Snaps: 41. Stats: 3 targets, 3 catches for 61 yards.
Green was finally used as a receiver, and he showed great things. He was getting a lot of space the make the catch, and he used his surprising speed/burst to pick up 35 yards after the catch. He is known as a blocker, but he has shown he can handle his duties as a receiver. When blocking against the Packers, Green had moments of brilliance, but there were a few cases he got beat. When he did get beat, the run didn't pick up many, if any, yards.
Ryan Harris, LT
Snaps: 41. Stats: N/A.
Harris was rotating in at left tackle, and he looked mediocre. His pass blocking was inconsistent, but even the good blocks weren’t that good. Most of the time he had a good block, it was because of his recovery after getting beaten by the snap. Where he really looked lackluster was as a run blocker. Multiple times he got beat, and a few of those times it got covered up, due to the speed or vision of the running back.
Evan Mathis, LG
Snaps: 53. Stats: 2 hurries allowed.
As a run blocker, Mathis was near perfect. On one touchdown run, Mathis executed his assignment to perfection and was a key to the touchdown being scored. He looked great as a pass blocker, outside of a couple of plays. One such play was where he got bulldozed onto his back right off the snap.
Matt Paradis, C
Snaps: 68. Stats: N/A
The young center played a near perfect game. His run blocking was excellent. His issues came in pass protection and still come from lack of experience or patience. He was quick to jump to join in on a double team, but let a delayed blitzer through, thankfully someone else was there to pick him up.
Louis Vasquez, RG
Snaps: 68. Stats: 1 hit and 3 hurries allowed.
His pass blocking wasn’t up to par, but Vasquez was really good in his run blocking. He, and his fellows on the interior of the Broncos offensive line paved the way for 115 of the Broncos rushing yards. 70 of those came behind Vasquez. Back to his pass blocking, while it wasn’t on par, it doesn’t mean he was bad. Outside of a handful of snaps, he was great. He just had a few where he got beat, and that happens.
Snaps: 68. Stats: 3 hurries allowed.
The right side of the offensive line is really getting things together, especially as run blockers. The running backs ran for 70 yards behind Vasquez, and saw 63 behind Schofield (38 of those between the two). The only concern with them was their pass blocking, but it wasn’t that it was bad, it just wasn’t great on a consistent level. Schofield is showing a great ability to recover and save a sack or a pressure. Although his ability against speed rushers is becoming more and more of a concern.
That wraps it up for the starters. Now time to jump into the players who subbed into the game.
C.J. Anderson, RB
Snaps: 28. Stats: 14 rushes for 101 yards and 1 touchdown, 1 target, 1 catch for 5 yards.
Despite losing his starting job, Anderson still saw the field a lot and he played great. He finally got healthy and it showed. His quickness, speed and burst was back and he was able to use that on his way to 106 total yards. He was excellent and making the one-two punch of Hillman and Anderson deadly, especially with the offensive line getting their blocking down.
Bennie Fowler, WR
Snaps: 32. Stats: 2 targets, 2 catches for 21 yards.
With Jordan Norwood out, Fowler got a lot more opportunities to show what he can do. He took advantage of them, and got separation on almost every route he made. He was only targeted twice, and made two catches, one of which was a tough catch while he was going to the ground. He also was great as a run blocker, which he has shown to be every chance he gets. His grade doesn’t include special teams play, but it is worth mentioning that he was excellent there and a big reason the coverage units are a lot better from a year ago.
Andre Caldwell, WR
Snaps: 25. Stats: 2 targets, 1 catch 24 yards.
Caldwell had a touchdown catch, but it was called back because of him pushing off of the defender. He also had an interception allowed, where he didn’t even try to stop it from happening right in front of him. Outside of those two plays, he played great. He was quick with his routes and strong as a blocker. He does need to get more physical before and after the catch, and should actually try to break up an interception if the need arises.
Tyler Polumbus, LT
Snaps: 27. Stats: N/A.
Harris started at left tackle and didn’t play so hot. Polumbus rotated in, and out-played Harris by a lot. He really solidified the line, and was playing at a great and consistent level. He did so in both pass and run blocking. Moving forward, he should stick as the starter at left tackle and not be rotating in or out.
Max Garcia, OG
Snaps: 16. Stats: 1 hurry allowed.
Garcia rotated in at left guard for half a series for Mathis. His play was so bad, and he kept getting called for penalties that they put Mathis back in the game. That marked the end of the night for Garcia, basically. He committed back-to-back penalties that killed the drive. It was a rough showing for the rookie.
That wraps up the players who subbed in and saw more than ten snaps. There were four players who entered the game, but only for a handful of snaps at most. Cody Latimer saw the most with eight snaps, and all as a run blocker. Backup tight end Richard Gordon saw a snap, as did backup center James Ferentz, who actually made a key block on the first touchdown run. The final player to see time was Juwan Thompson with two snaps, one of which he ran the ball, but ended up losing a yard on the run.
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