By Toni, Bronco Planet Blogger
Peyton Manning is on pace for a record setting year for both himself and the Denver Broncos. Although he missed some opportunities to hit Demaryius Thomas and Jacob Tamme for long gains early on and had a first quarter pick-six interception, the cool and calm 4 time MVP rallied for 270 passing yards and three touchdowns. At this pace he will eclipse over 4,700 yards and 36 touchdowns, which is impressive considering the most TD passes Hall of Fame QB John Elway ever had in a single season was 27. Manning also tied John Elway for 2nd most career wins for a quarterback and is now 36 behind NFL all time leader Brett Farve.
Despite all the Peyton Manning hype, it is the Jack Del Rio defense that is starting to grab attention around the NFL. Over the past several games the Broncos defense has been electrifying. After struggling early in the season on stopping teams on third down the Broncos went 26 consecutive third downs without allowing a first down. That is the best mark in the NFL in over a decade. Wesley Woodyard has been a tackling machine and finished Sunday with 8 total tackles, 5 solo tackles, an interception, and a fumble recovery.
Von Miller has been the most dominate defensive player in the NFL this year. He sailed by Houston's JJ Watt with 3 sacks, 2 tackles for losses, and 2 forced fumbles. Miller now has 13 sacks while JJ Watt is at 11.5. Jim Leonard had his second pick of the season and DJ Williams returned to the team with fresh legs and played very well in limited action. Defensive backs Tony Carter and Chris Harris are both getting rave reviews by Broncos coaches and Rahim Moore has become a much improved tackler.
This team is also very deep with talent. Defensive tackles Kevin Vickerson, Justin Bannan, Mitch Unrein, and Derek Wolfe are all contributing at stopping the run and Danny Trevathan, Nate Irving, Robert Ayers, and Malik Jackson are stepping up and making a difference when they rotate in for the starters. Elvis Dumervil continues to be a force with teams double up on Von Miller and Champ Bailey is Champ Bailey. Seventeen different Broncos had a tackle in Sunday's game over the San Diego Chargers and the NFL's fifth rated defense frustrated Philip Rivers all day long. Rivers finished with 3 fumbles and 2 interceptions.
The Broncos didn't clinch the AFC West on Sunday but they certainly distanced themselves from the rest of their division with their fifth straight win. With great special teams play, Peyton Manning at the helm, and Jack Del Rio's lively defense, things are looking up for the Denver Broncos.