Peyton "Not Done Yet" Manning was still showing the world that he, well, wasn't done yet, while the Denver Broncos defense continued its Orange Crush-like 2015 world tour as the Denver Broncos dispatched the Detroit Lions 24-12 on Sunday Night Football.
This was easily Manning's best game of the 2015 season - yes, he had a first half interception off an impressive tipped ball from the Lions' Haloti Ngata, but other than that, we saw Manning operate with confidence, arm strength, touch, and poise in the pocket. It was the Manning Broncos fans have gotten used to over the previous three seasons, and it was punctuated with a fantastic touchdown pass to Owen Daniels that put Detroit away.
Meanwhile, the Orange Crush 2.0 campaign continued, with Bradley Roby and David Bruton each coming away with highlight-reel interceptions while Denver's defense tallied four sacks. DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller were constantly in Matthew Stafford's face, and Aqib Talib did a fair job against the always-tough Calvin Johnson.
The Broncos improved to 3-0 while the Lions fell to 0-3 after Sunday Night.
Denver's defense stormed out of the gates yet again, with two sacks on Matthew Stafford in the first quarter alone. DeMarcus Ware was spending more time in Detroit's backfield than most Lions running backs, tallying one sack and sharing another with Malik Jackson, who plowed through a double-team to get to Stafford. Then, Bradley Roby's incredible interception made it clear that the Broncos' defense was continuing its quest to be dubbed Orange Crush 2.0.
Broncos didn't go away from pistol/shotgun until they were in goal-to-go. 7-0 after McManus' PAT. 12 plays, 80 yards, 6:25 on the drive.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) September 28, 2015
But then, on 4th and 1, Gary Kubiak and Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas did this.
Peyton Manning pic.twitter.com/81jvIMgr8Z— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) September 28, 2015
Thomas was flagged for taunting on the play, which was some level of B.S., but the Broncos ended the half up 14-6. Manning finished the first half 17 of 24 for 195 yards with one touchdown, one interception, and a 91.5 passer rating.
Manning credited Thomas' play as a difference-maker after the game.
"We scored at some very critical times. I think DT's (touchdown) at the half on 4th and 1 really sent a lot of momentum our way going into the 2nd half... He really came up with a huge play at a huge time."
The third quarter was one for the Lions, as Detroit found enough momentum after a Demaryius Thomas fumble to hit the end zone. Ameer Abdullah took a short Stafford pass to the end zone 16 yards to make it 14-12 Broncos (Denver's defense, of course, stuffed the two-point attempt).
The fourth quarter was full of highlight reel plays, with David Bruton doing this and Owen Daniels doing what you saw above and Emmanuel Sanders doing this:
Peyton finished 31 of 42 for 324 yards in a game that saw a lot more pistol as he and Kubiak ostensibly try to find a middle ground. His 101.7 passer rating on the road is mighty impressive, and the Broncos will be hoping that they've found their offensive stride as Adrian Peterson and the red-hot Minnesota Vikings come to town in Week 4.