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In a statement game, Broncos say A LOT

The Broncos' 29-10 walloping of a previously undefeated Green Bay Packers sent a message to the rest of the NFL - and Broncos Country - that this entire team can ball.

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Broncos 29, Packers 10


Manning 21/29 for 340 passing yards

96.9 quarterback rating for No. 18

160 team rushing yards

105 yards via tight ends

3 sacks on Aaron Rodgers, 0 on Peyton Manning

Just 77 passing yards allowed for one of the NFL's most prolific QBs

Only 38 yards allowed for one of the NFL's most prolific RBs

Pick your stat. It was a statement game any way you look at it.

And even though few 6-0 teams need "to make a statement," the Broncos knew they did.

Underdogs at home with fans on the ledge, the Broncos rose big to their prime-time challenge Sunday against a fellow undefeated team that was not expecting this Broncos team (you know, the one that can play well on all sides of the ball?)

That's a humbling loss. I haven't had my ass kicked like that in a long time.  -Mike McCarthy, Packers head coach

"You've got to compliment Denver," McCarthy said. "That's a humbling loss. I haven't had my ass kicked like that in a long time."

We just played fresh. We played fast. I'm proud of the way we played tonight. -Gary Kubiak, Broncos head coach

In offensive and defensive domination, the Broncos stormed to 7-0 on Sunday Night Football where the nation was treated to a different Broncos team - but not one unexpected by the players.

"Definitely a statement game," said Brandon Marshall, who had six tackles and one forced fumble on a night the defense was solid but not the focus. "We just wanted to come out and show the whole world that we're not just a team that gets by every week. We definitely put it on them tonight, and I thought we played extremely well."

Statement needed or not, the Broncos sent a message to their doubters - and that message wasn't just that the offense can win the game. It was bigger than that.

It was that the entire squad - from Manning to the last guy on the depth chart - buys into what Gary Kubiak has in mind for this offense, this team.

And that means this win was not just because it was on prime time. Or because Pat Bowlen was being inducted into the Ring of Fame. Or because players from the Super Bowl XXXII team were in attendance and had given many pep talks. Or even because I wrote the team several letters two weeks ago AND wore my blue No. 84 SB32 jersey (though I'm not holding out hope that both made a difference!)

It was because they've been preparing for this.

"[Kubiak] and I and everybody on offense have been working hard to try to improve, play better and execute better," Manning said. "I have just been very determined to get comfortable in this offense... we are all 100 percent committed to getting on the same page."

They've been telling us this, but we haven't wanted to listen (but for the record, shasta77 did try also).

We heard "work in progress," "need time to gel," "need to get Manning comfortable in this offense" and thought it was just cliché as our 39-year-old quarterback was hovering in the 60th percentile for QB rating and boasting more INTs than TDs.

We looked at the stats rather than the big picture.

Last night was no cliché; it was the bigger picture coming more in to focus.

"I knew this was not going to be an easy transition," Manning said, adding that not a lot of what has happened this season has been a surprise. "There were going to be some rough times, some rough patches and rough parts of the transition, but we've never wavered in our commitment to try to get on the same page and to get everybody kind of going the right direction."

Manning will never say, "I told you so."

So I will.

He told us so.

Luckily, Manning and the Broncos also haven't been listening to what "we" have been telling them.

"I don't look at this like a 'I told you so' moment because I don't really listen to what you say in the first place," Manning said. "I'm not going to put a Jim Mora on you and say the famous, 'You think you know, but you just don't know and you never well.' Although that's a great line, I'm not saying that. I'll say it at some point before I stop playing, but it's not the time now."

Kubiak also reminded us that Manning hasn't been doubting himself or the plan. He just needed more time, and that brought more comfort. And with comfort, came 340 yards passing, play-action magic, patience for the running game and red zone touchdowns.

Peyton played spectacular tonight. He did a hell of a job. He's done that many times in his career.  -Gary Kubiak

"I think what's happened with Peyton is that he's gained confidence in the guys he's playing with," Kubiak said, highlighting the new front, new tight ends, new running game scheme. "I think the confidence is just coming through repetitions with the guys he's working with. Obviously, he played spectacular tonight. He did a hell of a job. He's done that many times in his career."

186 times to be exact, tying former Packers QB Brett Favre for most wins in the NFL after last night's victory.

On a night with so many juicy story lines for the media, that milestone was mostly a footnote - and rightfully so. But in Manning's comment about the importance of teammates in those wins, there was a particular gem.

"I've always just been appreciative of all the efforts and all the hard work that goes into winning a football game. It's why you appreciate a win," Manning said, adding, "It's why losing hurts and it just rips your guts out."

This is why we should have listened more carefully. No one on this Broncos team wants to lose - most of all Manning - and the offense certainly didn't want the defense doing all the hard work all season. They were going to get it together; it was just a matter of time.

Thankfully, the defense gave them time.

One of the anchors of that defense - DeMarcus Ware - said he knew Manning and the offense were going to have a big game on Sunday.

"Usually if it's a big Monday night or Sunday night game, I'll come to [Peyton] like, ‘You know what? You've got to show up and show out on that Sunday night game,'" Ware said. "This was the first time he came to me and said, ‘You know what, DeMarcus? We've got to show up and show out this game.' That's what he did. He did what he needed to do and played an awesome game."

The beauty of it was that it wasn't just Manning. The running backs, the wide receivers - even the previously absent tight ends - had a great night.

Virgil Green finally had the game so many had been expecting all season. Catching all three of his targets, Green added 61 yards to the 500 total on offense.

"We knew they were a man defense and all week we were saying, ‘We've got to beat man. We've got to beat man.' And everybody did that tonight," Green said. "I feel like tonight it was attitude. We were manhandling them, and I felt good about our execution."

Ronnie Hillman, who put up 60 yards rushing and claimed two of the three touchdowns, said this team knows who it is and what it can do.

"We just finally just clicked. We got the ball going. Peyton threw the ball great today. We ran the ball. Offensive line did a great job blocking," Hillman said. "It was just the best overall performance we've had as a team."

Chris Harris Jr. would agree with that. And though the defense has been more than happy to shoulder the wins the first six games, playing the 6-0 Packers was always going to be a bigger test - so it was nice to have more help. But the defense still pulled its own weight - plus Aaron Rodgers - all night.

Sacking the elusive Rodgers three times, holding the quarterback to 14 completions, zero touchdowns and just 77 yards thanks to constant pressure and the real NO FLY ZONE, plus keeping the run game to a paltry 90 yards while adding to the scoreboard once again with a safety - this defense is relentless.

"I love that," Harris Jr. said of the offense's awakening. "To be able to get [the defense] some rest, we got great rest today. The offense moved the ball great. Peyton looked like Peyton Manning. Even the receivers, they did great. As long as they can continue to play like that, it's going to be tough to beat us."

But not impossible. That's why Kubiak has another statement for his players to make - Do this again.

"You don't exhale in this business. Obviously, I feel good about our progress. I'm proud of the way we played tonight. We played well as a team," Kubiak said. "We'll be thinking about the next one here real quickly. That's the way that it works."