Thomas and Decker help Broncos to number one seed (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
One of the most respected receiving duos in the NFL over the past decade would have to be Indianapolis Colt's Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. In their prime, behind the deadly arm of Peyton Manning, the duo dominated NFL defenses for years including an incredible run of three straight seasons with over 1,000 yards each. Their best combination year was in 2006 when Harrison finished the season with 1,366 yards while Wayne finished with 1,310. That year they also combined for 21 TDs. Their best year for combined touchdowns came in 2004 when the Colt's talented duo totaled 27 touchdowns and finished the season with 2,323 yards.
Now fast forward to 2012. Peyton Manning has some new shinny faces to play with wearing number 87 and 88 and they didn't disappoint in the final game of the regular season. Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas combined for 14 catches, 198 yards, and three touchdowns against the Chiefs including two one handed grabs for touchdowns. A year ago these two young receivers combined for 1,163 yards and 12 touchdowns. In 2012 they combined for 2,498 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Now for the interesting part, in all the years Harrison and Wayne dominated the AFC, only once did they have more combined yards than Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker had in 2012. And only once did they have more combined touchdowns than Thomas and Decker in 2012. And during the twilight of Harrison and Wayne years in 2006, Harrison was already in his 11th year as a pro and Wayne was his 6th year. The sky is the limit for the young Broncos receivers who are both only in their 3rd season as a professionals and only their first year working with Peyton Manning. If Peyton remains healthy who knows what records can fall as they continue to learn more from the Hall of Fame quarterback.
When you look around the NFL this year, only three teams had both their starting receivers over 1,000 yards. The Atlanta Falcons (R White, J Jones), the New Orleans Saints (M Colston, L Moore), and the Denver Broncos (D Thomas, E Decker). The Broncos duo finished with the second most yards for starting receivers in the NFL trailing Roddy White and Julio Jones by only 51 yards but finished with 6 more touchdowns than White and Jones and 7 more touchdowns than Marques Colston and Lance Moore. All in all you can make the case the Broncos starting receivers were the best duo in the NFL yet neither were selected to the Pro Bowl.
But Pro Bowls and individual awards are not what these two talented receivers are thinking about. They have a new sheriff in town and in one short season they are already putting up numbers with some of the best receivers combinations in NFL history. Sipping back boat drinks in Hawaii is nice but winning the AFC number one seed and having a great opportunity to go to the Super Bowl with Peyton Manning as your quarterback is even better.
At the beginning of the season many around the league wondered if these two young receivers were up to the "Peyton Manning task." As the final regular season came to a close Sunday night and after 11 straight Broncos victories, the answer was loud and clear. Yes indeed.
By Shadd, Bronco Planet Blogger