When I started this series it was Tim Tebow time and cutting up GIFs of a few main highlights was basically covering all the key points of the game. Then Week 1 of 2013 came along. How do you highlight seven touchdowns in a game? Now here I am... how do I highlight 51 points scored?
We go back to the YouTube well, that’s what I’m going to do. That’s how fun the 2013 regular season was for the Denver Broncos with Peyton Manning and his group of offensive weapons.
In a game that featured a single punt, the fireworks began early and ran through the entire game. Let’s do a drive-by-drive summary for those who don’t feel like watching the entire game above.
It was Tony Romo and the Cowboys who found the hot hand early.
Cowboys first possession: They would open up the game with a methodical 11-play 79 yard drive that ate up the games first seven minutes and was capped by a Dez Bryant touchdown.
Broncos first possession: A 16-yard run by Knowshon Moreno was followed by a Manning pass over the middle out near midfield to Eric Decker who fumbled it away back to Dallas.
Cowboys second possession: Romo and the Cowboys offense could not be stopped early as they, again, methodically drove the ball 45-yards on seven plays to put Denver in a 14-0 hole in the first quarter.
Broncos second possession: Peyton being Peyton wasn’t about to let his team get blown out. He completed three straight passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. The first went to Julius Thomas for 19, then a big play deep to Eric Decker for 57, and capped it back to Thomas for a four yard touchdown to cut the lead back to 7.
Cowboys third possession: Denver’s defense finally made a stop, but not after the Cowboys ripped off a 10-play 60 yard drive. Up 17-7 heading into the second quarter, the Cowboys were sitting pretty.
Broncos third possession: Warmed up, Peyton began to turn the tables on the Cowboys defense. Backed mostly by two big runs from Moreno, Manning connected with Decker from two yards out to cut the lead to 3 capping a 7-play, 60 yard drive.
Cowboys fourth possession: It was the Cowboys turn to turn the ball over. Bryant fumbled on the first play to set the Broncos up at the Dallas 41.
Broncos fourth possession: Julius Thomas continued to shine in the first half as he hauled in all three of Manning’s completions on this drive for 30 yards and a touchdown to put Denver up 21-17.
Cowboys fifth possession: The only punt of the game came on a quick three and out by the Cowboys. Malik Jackson got himself a sack on Romo to ensure the lone punt of the day.
Broncos fifth possession: Aided by a pass interference penalty, Denver needed just over two minutes to score. The touchdown came on one of the greatest quarterback keepers in history as Manning duped DeMarcus Ware on an inside fake to Moreno and scampered in for the 28-17 lead.
Cowboys sixth possession: With under a minute to go in the half, Romo did find a quick strike down the field to get Dallas into scoring range before halftime down 28-20.
Broncos sixth possession: With all of the quick strikes by Denver’s offense in the first half, they were due for a long, clock-eating drive. They would open the second half with a 13-play 72 yard drive that ate up nearly half the quarter to put Denver up 35-20.
Cowboys seventh possession: The Cowboys needed just two plays as Tony Romo found Terrance Williams deep for an 82-yard touchdown pass.
Broncos seventh possession: Julius Thomas continued to have himself a big day as he snagged another big reception on the ensuing drive that would help Denver into field goal range to put them up 38-27.
Cowboys eighth possession: On the other side it was Dez Bryant who was having a monster day. He caught two passes for 29 yards and a touchdown, but also drew a 20-yard pass interference penalty as well. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but the Cowboys were back in business down 38-33.
Broncos eighth possession: One play was all Denver needed to turn the ball over again. Manning went deep for Decker, but had the ball picked off near midfield.
Cowboys ninth possession: Jason Witten showed up for this Cowboys scoring drive. He caught all three of Romo’s completions for 51 yards and a touchdown. The two-point conversion was successful to put the Cowboys back in front at 41-38 early in the fourth quarter.
Broncos ninth possession: Manning and the Broncos ground out 46 yards on 11 plays with their next possession. It wasn’t easy, but it was enough to get them in range for a Matt Prater 50-yard field goal to tie the game up.
Cowboys tenth possession: Dallas followed it up with a 4-play, 93 yard drive that was aided by a 79 yard catch and run by Dez Bryant to seemingly put a nail in the coffin putting the Cowboys up 48-41 midway through the fourth quarter.
Broncos tenth possession: In what was clearly going to end up an all-time NFL classic, Manning rose to the occasion once more. He methodically picked apart the Cowboys defense with completions to four different receivers and saw this 9-play, 83 yard drive capped by a one yard plunge by Moreno to tie the game up at 48 with just under three minutes to go in the game.
Cowboys eleventh possession: And in true Tony Romo fashion, he would come up short in a big game. After taking a sack on first down, he would try to fit a pass in that was picked off by Danny Trevathan to set Denver up with excellent field position.
Broncos eleventh possession: Denver would run off eight plays for 14 yards to run the clock all the way down two 2 seconds. Prater would boot through the 28-yard chip shot for the 51-48 win.
This incredible game had 1,039 total yards of offense (884 of that through the air). Manning finished 33/42 for 414 yards and four touchdowns, with Julius Thomas leading the way with 9 catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Moreno had a good day too with 93 yards on the ground and 57 through the air.
For the Cowboys, Romo finished 25/36 for 506 yards and five touchdowns. The Cowboys had three receivers over 100 yards on the day. Williams had 4 receptions for 151 yards and a touchdown, Bryan had 6 receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns, and Witten hauled in 7 receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown.
If you love offense, you won’t find a more fun game to watch here.
Editor’s Note: This series is on hiatus until after the 2020 NFL Draft. We are transitioning to covering that event for the next three weeks. We’ll be back in early May with the remaining 15 games in this series.