It was a day of milestones and records for the Denver Broncos, facing a tough Arizona Cardinals defense at home. More importantly, it was a day of victory, with the Broncos able to get out in front and stay there against a previously undefeated Cardinals team. The Broncos pulled away in the second half to dominate the Cardinals 41-20 in Week 5.
About those milestones...
- Peyton Manning threw his 500th career touchdown pass - a 7-yard strike to Julius Thomas - then threw two more touchdowns, both long catch-and-run plays by Demaryius Thomas.
- Manning threw for over 400 yards, the 13th 400-yard game of his career, tying Dan Marino's NFL record for the most such games.
- In fact, Manning threw for 479 yards, a new career-high for the Laser Rocket Arm that still has some heat.
- Wide receiver Wes Welker broke an NFL record too - the NFL record for most catches by an undrafted player, previously held by Broncos Ring of Famer Rod Smith.
- In addition to his two touchdowns, Demaryius Thomas caught the footballs for 226 yards, breaking the Broncos' franchise record for receiving yards in a game previously held by Shannon Sharpe (KC, 2002).
- Defensive end DeMarcus Ware moved up to 17th in the all-time NFL sack list, ahead of Julius Peppers (120.5).
- Undrafted rookie running back Juwan Thompson scored his first career touchdown, an eight-yard romp that put the game out of reach.
- Finally, Terrance Knighton notched career tackle #300, which isn't a record but is a milestone, rounding out a big statistical day for Broncos players in Week 5.
So, yeah, it was a good day.
Manning was brilliant for the most part, showing incredible touch in touchdown throws to Demaryius Thomas. He threw two footballs in the game he'd love to get back - one was a bad throw intercepted by CB Jerraud Powers, the other to defensive end Calais Campbell on a blown screen. Outside of those passes, Manning was his usual future Hall of Fame self.
Thomas' first touchdown ended with the receiver getting a Mile High beer bath.
Now that's refreshing.
Kicker Brandon McManus was shaky in replacing Matt Prater, nailing a 44-yard effortlessly before missing a 53-yard attempt. The miss seemed to shake him; he doinked a 41-yard field goal that bounced inside then nearly missed a point-after attempt.
The Broncos maintained a touchdown lead for most of the game, but the Cardinals would not go quietly into the night. Quarterback Drew Stanton was knocked out of the game following a Von Miller sack that saw him enter the locker room to evaluated for a concussion; he did not return. Rookie QB Logan Thomas came in for Arizona but still managed to keep things interesting with an 81-yard touchdown to Andre Ellington, a catch-and-run of the Cardinals' own.
Then the Broncos took over.
Peyton Manning led an eight-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a Julius Thomas touchdown off a 12-yard fade, giving the Broncos a two-score lead. Then the Broncos defense rose to the occasion, forcing a three-and-out, and Isaiah Burse was able to return Arizona's punt to the enemy's 46-yard line. Manning and company made short work of that short field; five plays later, Juwan Thompson rushed in for the touchdown to put the game thoroughly out of reach, 41-20 with four minutes to go.
For fans wanting a complete game of football from the Broncos, this definitely came close, and a three-touchdown win against one of the NFC's best is certainly thrilling. The Broncos improve to 3-1, their only loss coming in overtime to the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks in Seattle.