In a game where so many things were good on both offense and defense, it's hard to pick the best Game Ball. And boy, does it feel good to have a tough choice for that reason. But in the words of Wes Welker, selected as one of two Broncos for the team Game Ball yesterday, "I'm just glad Peyton Manning is our quarterback."
Preach it, brother. So much of what is right with this team is thanks to Manning. Whether it is his actual management on the field or high demands off of it, he influences all phases of the team performance in a positive way. Though Manning is rightfully humble over his 500th touchdown pass yesterday - and recognizes he had a lot of help from coaches and players to reach that milestone - he still had to take advantage of those opportunities. Fortunately for Broncos fans - and NFL fans in general - Manning has continued to do just that.
Beyond becoming only the second NFL quarterback to hit 500 touchdowns, Manning had a Hall-of-Fame performance (and he got me 65.5 points on my fantasy team - woohoo!!!). Despite two interceptions, he did what a five-time MVP does - took accountability, reviewed the plays, forgot about it, and went out and threw three more touchdowns via 479 passing yards against one of the tougher NFL defenses. He logged his 13th game with more than 400 passing yards, tying Dan Marino for the record.
WTF? #Manning just made a tackle.
— Laurie Volkmann (@docllv) October 5, 2014
And to top it all off, Peyton Freaking Manning even logged a tackle on Cardinals' Calais Campbell to save a pick six - possibly my favorite play of the game. Probably not the smartest move for a million-dollar QB to sacrifice himself for what would become an easy touchdown on the next play, but it reminded me of another Broncos quarterback who would do anything he could to win a game. - Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann
My game ball goes to Von Miller. Yesterday we saw the 2012 Von Miller re-emerge. He spent nearly as much time in the Cardinals' backfield as Logan Thomas did. He was disruptive on almost every other passing play. He finished the game with only 3 tackles (2 solo), but both of those solo tackles were TFL. He also racked up 1.5 sacks and 4 additional QB hits - one of which knocked Stanton out of the game which effectively neutered Arizona's offense. Von was a key part of our defense allowing a grand total of 215 yards - 81 of which came on one play. You have to go back to the final game of the 2012 season to find a game where the Broncos allowed fewer yards (only 119 yards in the 38-3 destruction of the Chiefs). - Joseph Mahoney
Ronnie Hillman and Juwan Thompson
Here's the deal. We all know I'm a Montee Ball fanboy. But something just isn't clicking for him in this offense. On a day where Montee Ball averaged 1.17 yards per carry, Ronnie Hillman averaged 4.27 and Juwan Thompson averaged 5.0 yards per carry. They ran behind the same line as Ball, and did at a minimum of 4 times better (5 for Thompson). Sprinkle in a touchdown for Thompson, and the Broncos found their recipe for success. In an era that has most people say that running the ball is over and that you're actually giving up yardage by running the ball instead of passing the ball (based on average yards per attempt), one thing is brutally clear... If you run the ball effectively, you will score more points and walk up and down the field that much easier via the passing attack. Look no further than how our offense was pretty stagnant with Montee in the backfield, and ridiculously potent as soon as our running game started clicking with Thompson and Hillman. The run always sets up the pass. It's cliche for a reason people! Ronnie Hillman (never thought I'd say that in a million years), and Juwan Thompson, you both get my game ball. - Big Pete
Chris Harris Jr.
Yesterday he was targeted 7 times. He gave up zero catches. None, nada, nothing. He continues to be the very best corner on the Broncos roster and he does it with style. - Bronco Mike
Demaryius Thomas- Something happened midway through the fourth quarter of the Week Three game against the Seahawks. Something finally clicked for Demaryius, and suddenly he was back to being the incredible receiver that everyone knows him as. He followed up his key 12-yard catch and two point conversion reception in that game, both of which helped tie the game, with a phenomenal performance against Arizona on Sunday. Demaryius was being covered by Cardinals corner Antonio Cromartie for the majority of the afternoon; Cromartie had been the Cardinals best corner to this point in the season, allowing 4 of 10 passes to be completed, for just 73 yards and no touchdowns. On Sunday, Thomas caught 8 of 15 targets, for a franchise-record 226 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. Those numbers don't even include the 77-yard touchdown reception that was taken away from DT because of an illegal block by Ryan Clady. It goes without saying that Thomas' performance on Sunday was the best we've ever seen from him. Demaryius is back, and opposing defenses have one more reason to worry again when facing the Broncos. - Jacob Dearlove
Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall
The #Broncos defense has forced three-and-outs on 16-of-50 opponent drives this season, leading the NFL at 32%.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) October 7, 2014
I chose these two as my representatives of the defense as a whole - outside of one fluke throw to Andre Ellington, the Broncos 'D' played lights-out against the Cardinals. Trevathan played nearly every snap in his return (56 of 59), but the Broncos still found ways to get Brandon Marshall on the field; Marshall had 38 snaps Sunday, often alongside Trevathan. That was more snaps than Nate Irving had (21), as the Broncos would shift Trevathan to Mike linebacker and keep Marshall at Will in passing situations. That is called keeping your best pass-defense players on the field in nickel and dime, and these two were key parts to it. Trevathan led the team with seven tackles (more than double any other player), while Marshall had two tackles with a pass defense and QB hurry. It's good to have Trevathan back, and it's good to see the Broncos aren't letting Marshall's developing talents waste on the bench. - Monty