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3 things we learned about the Broncos

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DENVER — After plodding along for much of the season and having a stout defense carry the team, the Denver Broncos offense found its footing and roared to life.

Ronnie Hillman ran for two touchdowns and C.J. Anderson had another, and the Broncos used a bruising rushing attack and picked their spots passing to down Green Bay 29-10 Sunday night, remaining unbeaten and handing the Packers their first loss of the season.

With their running game clicking and helping to open up passing lanes, Peyton Manning threw for 340 yards. It was his 186th career regular-season win, tying Brett Favre for most victories by a starting quarterback in NFL history. Demaryius Thomas was his favorite target, with eight receptions for 168 yards, his team-record-tying 31st game with at least 100 yards receiving.

“Everybody on offense has been working hard to try to improve and play better and I thought we did that tonight,” Manning said. “It proves when we do execute we are capable of making some big plays but you’ve got to do it every week.”

The Broncos improved to 7-0 to start a season for just the second time in their history. They got off to a 13-0 start in 1998. Green Bay fell to 6-1, snapping an eight-game regular-season winning streak dating to last year.

“They took advantage of us in the run game and the pass game,” Packers cornerback Casey Hayward said. “(Manning) had some turnovers in the previous games but he was still Manning. He commanded their offense tonight. They were coming off a bye, just like we were, and they were prepared.”

Added Packers coach Mike McCarthy: “That was a humbling loss. I haven’t had my butt kicked like that in a long time.”

Denver’s defense frustrated the Packers’ high-powered offense, limiting Aaron Rodgers to 77 yards on 14 of 22 passing. He was sacked by DeMarcus Ware and fumbled early in the fourth quarter and in the scramble for the ball, it rolled into the end zone, where it was recovered by tight end Richard Rodgers for a safety.

3 things we learned about the Broncos:

1. Peyton Manning may be close to the end of his illustrious career but he can still bring it with the best, as he showed in Denver’s dominating 29-10 win Sunday night over previously unbeaten Green Bay. Behind a line that didn’t allow a sack, Manning had his best game of the season, throwing for 340 yards and helping put the Broncos in position to score three rushing touchdowns. His performance helped lift a Broncos offense that came into the game ranked 29th in the league in terms of productivity.

2. C.J. Anderson is once again making his presence felt in the Broncos’ backfield. Though Ronnie Hillman has moved into the top tailback spot, Anderson’s renewed effectiveness reinforced the Broncos’ two-back approach in the running game. Anderson ran for 101 yards and a touchdown, his best showing of the season. His physical running style provides defenses with a different look as opposed to Hillman, a speedy, shifty back.

3. Denver’s defensive front leads the league in sacks, helping the secondary emerge as one of the NFL’s top shutdown units. With cornerbacks Aqib Tali and Chris Harris Jr leading the way, the Broncos limited the Packers to 77 yards passing and prevented Green Bay from converting any big plays in the passing game.

Etc.:

–WR Demaryius Thomas had eight catches for 168 yards. He surpassed 400 career receptions (now 407) and had his 31st 100-yard receiving game, tying Rod Smith’s team record. “We were on the same page all night,” Thomas said of his rapport with QB Peyton Manning.

–LB DeMarcus Ware had one of the Broncos’ three sacks of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, upping his career total to 132.5. That ties him with Lawrence Taylor and Leslie O’Neal for 11th place on the NFL’s all-time sack list. He needs one more sack to tie John Abraham for 10th place.

–TEs Virgil Green and Owen Daniels each had three receptions and combined for 105 yards receiving. Their performance helped lift Denver’s struggling passing game and put the tight end position firmly in the mix in the Broncos’ resurgent offensive showing.


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