Manning matches Marino and inspires Bronco’s to 35-24 win
Denver’s 36-year-old QB has been outstanding by every measure since throwing three interceptions in the first quarter at Atlanta a month ago. His trio of wobblers that night left some critics questioning his stability, strength and stamina after spending all of last season on the sideline.
His performance on Monday night was a step further, as he engineered the biggest comeback of his career in the Broncos’ 35-24 win at San Diego, which saw Denver face a 0-24 score-line at half-time. In the process Manning also tied Dan Marino for first place with his 47th game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime.
For once, they were able to overcome their first-half foibles as Manning vaulted the Broncos (3-3) into a first-place tie with the Chargers atop the AFC West after a treacherous early-season schedule that lightens up considerably after their bye this week.
Even with four neck operations to match his four MVP trophies, the quarterback is on pace to throw for more yards than he ever did in Indianapolis. If he keeps this up, he’ll also post the second-best marks of his career in attempts, completions, completion percentage, touchdowns and QB rating along with his second-fewest interceptions in a season.
He’s also the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300 yards and three TDs while completing at least 70 percent of his passes in three straight games.
Since matching the worst quarter, interception-wise, of his career against the Falcons in Week 2, Manning has thrown for 1,519 yards with 11 touchdowns and just one interception in 195 passes and that pickoff wasn’t even his fault. Matthew Willis didn’t recognize the overload on his side and failed to adjust his route accordingly Monday night, allowing Quentin Jammer to step up for an easy pick-six.
Slow starts in three of the games have meant that the Bronco’s have had to find new ways to come back, with three TD tosses from Manning and two defensive touchdowns as they erased the Chargers’ 24-0 halftime lead. That tied their biggest comeback in franchise history and left the AFC with just two winning teams — Baltimore and Houston — and both of them have their share of issues and injuries.
The Broncos’ losses have come to teams with a combined 14-4 record, but the remainder of their schedule has a composite 18-32 record and features just one winning team — the Ravens, who lost anchor Ray Lewis to a torn triceps Sunday.
For all their slow starts, the Broncos have outscored their opponents 79-6 in the fourth quarter, an indication they believe they’re never out of it with Manning on their side. For once, though, they have an actual comeback to celebrate and not just a moral victory to ponder.
The Broncos became the first team in nearly a quarter-century to win after falling behind 24-0. Denver’s defence forced Philip Rivers into a career-high six turnovers, including ones that Tony Carter and Chris Harris returned for touchdowns.
“Once again we had those self-inflicted wounds that put us in a hole,” Manning said. “But we have shown the ability to come back, and offence and defence really did it together there in the second half.”
With an easier set of fixtures coming up the Bronco’s should be able to dictate the AFC West and become credible play-off contenders. They are currently joint top with San Diego but have a superior points difference. Back them to win the AFC West at -175 or if you really want to back Manning they are +1600 for the Super Bowl 2013.
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