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Manning Up: A dream match-up ends in a nightmare

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Manning was projected for more big numbers against the Rams, but the Broncos offense could do nothing against the Rams pass rush, resulting in a rare one-touchdown performance from Peyton.

Manning throws in the towel (a sweatband) after the Broncos' loss to the Rams, on a day where Peyton did not play well.
Manning throws in the towel (a sweatband) after the Broncos' loss to the Rams, on a day where Peyton did not play well.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Recap of Last Week

In a divisional match-up against the rival Oakland Raiders, Peyton Manning gouged the defense for five touchdown passes, despite having a hard time getting the offense going for most of the first half. After a jump-start from a solo effort by CJ Anderson, though, the offense couldn't be stopped, with Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders each registering two touchdowns in the big win. After last week, Manning was on pace for 51 touchdown passes on the season, averaging 3.22 touchdown passes per game.

Touchdown #1

30th touchdown of the season, 26 remaining to break last year's single-season record

Receiver: Emmanuel Sanders

Quarter/Time: 2nd Quarter/2:28

Down/Distance: 3rd and 10, STL 42 (42-yard score)

Pre-Snap: On the lone touchdown of the day, Manning lines up in shotgun (as per usual), with CJ Anderson in the backfield to his right, and Jacob Tamme on the right end of the offensive line in a three-point stance, taking the place of the injured Julius Thomas. The remaining skilled-position personnel on the field were Demaryius Thomas, lined up wide right, Wes Welker, lined up in the left slot, and Emmanuel Sanders, split wide left. The Rams defense lined up in a 3-3-5 nickel formation, with defensive backs lined up over top of all four receivers (DT, Tamme, Welker, Sanders), and two deep safeties. Two Rams linebackers showed blitz on the play, lining up in the gaps between the defensive linemen.

FirstTDSTLFormation

Post-Snap: The Rams, as they showed pre-snap, sent two linebackers on a blitz, both through their respective B-gaps. The defense was a Cover-2 zone defense, which means that the two deep safeties were responsible for their respective deep halves of the field. To counter the blitz, the Broncos kept both Jacob Tamme and CJ Anderson in pass protection on the play, ensuring that Manning had enough time to allow the deep routes to develop.

FirstTDSTLPlay

Both Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas ran fly routes on the outside, while Wes Welker ran a deep in-route over the middle of the field. Sanders' route took him right past the deep safety on the right side of the defense, who was nowhere to be seen, allowing Manning to launch the ball over him and into the arms of Sanders. It appears that the corner who originally lined up over top of Sanders, and the deep safety on the same side of the field had their assignments mixed up on the play, as evidenced by Janoris Jenkins' (the corner's) obvious frustration after the catch was made.

SandersTDCatch

Recap:

With just one touchdown pass against the Rams, Peyton's touchdown pace has been significantly slowed down to just three touchdown passes per game (an incredible number, still). Despite the fact that this is still an impressive rate, Manning's projected touchdowns have yet again dropped from 51 to 48. Interestingly enough, Peyton threw for just one touchdown in last year's tenth game of the season as well (vs. KC), meaning that Manning remains just four touchdown passes behind his total through ten games last year. In order to top his single-season record from 2013, Manning would need 4.33 touchdown passes per game for the remainder of the season; in other words, that ship has likely sailed. Next week, the Broncos host the Dolphins, who have allowed 1.4 touchdown passes to opposing QBs per game.

Week

Current TD Count

This Time Last Year (2013)

On Pace For

% of Last Year's Total

1

3

7

48

42.86%

2

6

9

48

66.67%

3

8

12

43

66.67%

5

12

16

48

75.00%

6

15

20

48

75.00%

7

19

22

51

86.36%

8

22

25

50

88.0%

9

24

29

48

82.76%

10

29

33

51

87.9%

11

30

34

48

88.23%