"It's too easy!" Julius Thomas screamed as he hauled in his second touchdown of the game, a wide-open red zone slant. Thomas didn't need to say anything; that fact was clear to anyone who watched it.
The rest of the Denver Broncos' Week 6 game against the New York Jets wasn't too easy, as the Broncos let a 17-point third quarter lead slip into a one-score game with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
But the Broncos defense held on to that one-score lead - as it has twice already this season - this time with an Aqib Talib pick-six of Geno Smith with 15 seconds left in the game. The Broncos went on to win 31-17.
Peyton Manning threw for 237 yards and three touchdowns, while Ronnie Hillman and Juwan Thompson combined for over 130 rushing yards (Hillman had his career-first 100-yard rushing game). Demaryius Thomas finished with 10 catches for 124 yards and a TD. However, this game wasn't about the offense.
More impressively, the Broncos defense balled out, holding Jets running backs (and moblie QB Geno Smith) to 31 yards on 15 carries (2.1 yard average) and sacking Smith four times. In fact, Smith's pick-six never should have happened; CBS replays showed that Von Miller clearly sacked Smith for what should have been a safety on the play before, but the refs ruled Smith down at the 1.
Even when the refs got it wrong, the Broncos defense got it right.
The game's first play seemed like a sign of things to come - a Peyton Manning 54-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas - but it turned out to be the Broncos' biggest play of the game. Outside of that play, the Broncos struggled for most of the first half, succumbing to pass rushers, penalties, and punting on four straight drives. Peyton Manning was sacked twice and put up a couple of head-scratching underthrown passes. Granted, the Broncos and Jets entered this Sunday leading the league in forced 3-and-outs, but three holding penalties made the drives' struggles feel self-induced.
Offense no bueno. pic.twitter.com/n2Gzig36JQ— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) October 12, 2014
The second half wasn't much better. The Broncos had a 17-point lead by the time Julius Thomas infected living rooms everywhere with his profane victory announcement, but Denver allowed New York 10 unanswered points, crescendoing with an Eric Decker quick slant touchdown from Geno Smith.
Then the Broncos offense found its groove at the end of the second half. With his offense at the goal line, Manning scrambled on third down to find an open Demaryius Thomas for a touchdown, capping off a 10-play, 43-yard drive. More impressively, Manning and company executed an 80-yard, two-minute drive in nine plays that concluded with a tight-window Manning dart to Julius Thomas. The Broncos went up big.
The Broncos entered halftime outgaining the Jets 217 yards to 81, with the running game emphasizing a particular edge: the Broncos outrushed the Jets 60 yards to 8.
In the second half, Manning and the Broncos remained inconsistent, with Britton Colquitt having to punt another three times (seven total) for the game. Credit the Jets defense for stifling the Broncos and forcing them into predictive playcalling.
The Broncos were penalized 11 times for 101 yards on the day, punctuating a sloppy performance from the Broncos. They'll need to clean that up as they prepare to face the San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers on Sunday Night Football and Thursday Night Football over the next 11 days.