It wasn't just a victory for the Denver Broncos against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. It was absolute domination. The Broncos did exactly what they needed to do in order to come away with a tremendous victory over the Green Bay Packers.
The team played complete football in all three phases of the game. Their offense was spectacular, their defense was ferocious and their special teams played soundly. If tonight was a measuring stick for what the Broncos team is capable of — they are destined for great things and have the make-up of a squad who can not only get to the Super Bowl, but win it in grand fashion.
There wasn't a better way for the Broncos to honor owner Pat Bowlen on the day he was enshrined into the teams' Ring of Fame than the way they played against one of the NFL's best teams this evening. Tonight will be a memorable game forever etched in the minds of Broncos fans who saw it live in person or in the comfort of their own homes. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.
With that said, here are my takeaways from tonight's game.
- It took seven games, but the Broncos offense finally put together their first touchdown drive of the season that took nearly five minutes off the clock in their second possession. A heavy dose of the running game, sprinkled with a few passes was capped off by a third and goal touchdown run by running back Ronnie Hillman. But it didn't stop there — the offensive production against one of the league's best scoring defenses was incredible. Denver was able to rack up 500 yards of total offense and put 27 points of their own on the board in their breakthrough performance of the season.
- Broncos fans have been waiting patiently for a heavy dose of the running game that amounted to success and the team's effort on Sunday Night Football didn't disappointed. Denver's running game was on point and the most impressive it had been all season long. C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman combined for 33 carries that totaled 160 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. Folks, that is over five yards per carry and easily the best performance the two have put together to date.
- The Denver Broncos tight ends hadn't amounted to much production this season, but Virgil Green and Owen Daniels got involved tonight. They each had three catches and amassed 105 yards between the two of them.
- Outside a late fourth quarter interception to Green Bay's Damarious Randall, Peyton Manning had an outstanding game and gave a huge, "shut up" to his haters who have called for him to be benched. Manning ended the night going 21/29 for 340 yards. He was precise and showed extraordinary rhythm all night long and spread the ball around to eight different receivers.
- Demaryius Thomas didn't have a receiving touchdown this game, but torched the Packers defense vertically and through the middle of the field to the tune of 8 catches for 168 yards.
- A big shout out and kudos is well-deserved for the Broncos offensive line, who didn't allow Manning to be sacked all night long and provided him with the time needed to make plays down the field. They also did a great job paving the way for Hillman and Anderson in the running game. Without a question, tonight was their best game as a unit.
- Denver's defensive packages this evening highlighted the units versatility and Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillip's impeccable play calling genius. The Broncos ran a complex set of coverage packages that confused the Green Bay offense, with T.J. Ward working at single-high safety and Bradley Roby matching up on occasion against Randall Cobb and much more. From what I saw, Chris Harris, Jr. also saw a few snaps at safety.
- Speaking of Bradley Roby, for most of the game he was placed on veteran receiver James Jones, who has had a terrific season to date. Through the first half, Roby held Jones without a catch and it wasn't until late in the game that Jones hauled in a reception at all. The Broncos starting corners get all the press for how good they have been thus far, but don't sleep on Bradley Roby. He has been playing at a Pro-Bowl level all season long.
- While the Denver pass rush was able to cause penetration on a handful of plays, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was able to extend plays on an average of five to seven seconds with his mobility. Alas, Denver's coverage down the field in the first quarter was exceptional and were fully up to the challenge of covering the Green Bay's arsenal of wide receivers.
- Aaron Rodgers had what could possibly be the worst outing since his rookie season, completing only 14 of 22 passes for 77 yards and earned himself a horrific 69.7 QBR. This will be a nightmare that will continue to haunt Rodgers for a long time. It was an absolute embarrassment for a player who prides himself on playing at an extraordinarily high level.
- Outside a few scrambles by Aaron Rodgers, the Broncos front seven were very good in stopping the rushing attack of Eddie Lacy and James Starks. The Packers backs had only 47 total yards on sixteen carries and offensively, Green Bay only had 90 yards rushing all game long. Credit to Derek Wolfe (who had a fantastic game) and Sylvester Williams for dominating on the line of scrimmage.
- DeMarcus Ware's strip-sack of Aaron Rodgers that resulted in the safety resulted in more points for Denver's vaunted defense, who has now put points on the board in five of their games this season.
- The Broncos interior offensive line struggled on a handful of occasions, in particular third and short situations on getting a push against the Packers defensive front seven. However, guard Evan Mathis looked particularly strong in the second half, helping spring C.J. Anderson's 28 yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter. As mentioned above, the unit played its best game of the year thus far, but they could stand to get better on short yardage situations.
- Rookie Max Garcia, who has been subbed in and rotated with Evan Mathis the past several games, struggled immensely at the end of the first half, having two penalties for twenty yards that took the Broncos out of field goal range. The offensive penalties are something the Broncos could also improve upon.
- There isn't much bad to say about the Broncos defense, who arguably had one of the most historical performances against future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers. If there is one constant issue that has been seen in every game this year for the unit it would certainly be too many penalties.
At the end of the first half, a David Bruton, Jr. roughing the passer penalty on third down allowed for the Packers to continue the drive and score with an Eddie Lacey two yard touchdown run. Denver's defense continues to be extremely aggressive, but at times have mental lapses and fail to play fundamental football.
Hart's Quick Hits
- Denver converted half of their third downs (6/12), while Green Bay only converted a quarter of them (2/8).
- The Broncos offense averaged 7.9 yards per play, whereas Green Bay only averaged 3 yards per play. Perhaps the most impressive state line regarding plays: Manning's average pass play went for 11.7 yards. Impressive.
- Denver's defense had three sacks on Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay's defense was unable to sack Peyton Manning.
- Denver had 12 penalties for 93 yards, while Green Bay was called for only 2 penalties for 15 yards. Denver certainly needs to become more disciplined moving forward.
- Denver also had the upper hand in the time of possession: 33:26 to 26:33.