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3 things we learned about the Packers

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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 Packers:

1. The Packers have to be worried about the state of their secondary, which lost cornerbacks Sam Shields and Quinten Rollins to shoulder injuries in the first half of their 29-10 loss to the Denver Broncos. In the last two games, Green Bay has been shredded for 843 yards passing, including 340 yards by Denver’s Peyton Manning, who snapped season-long struggles with a virtuoso performance against the Packers.

2. As well as the Broncos played against the Packers, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers believes the onus is on the Packers to learn from their first loss of the season. “I think tonight is about what we didn’t do. We didn’t execute in the run game. We didn’t execute in the pass game and we didn’t convert on third down and that’s why we got beat.”

3. Coming into the game, Green Bay’s pass rush rivaled Denver’s in terms of ferocity. But the Packers barely laid a hand on Peyton Manning in seeing their team record consecutive sack streak snapped at 42 games. The effectiveness of Denver’s running game kept the Packers’ defense guessing and when the rush was unleashed it ran into stout pass protection from the Broncos’ young offensive line.

Etc.:

–CBs Sam Shields and Quinten Rollins both were knocked out of the game in the first half with shoulder injuries. The depleted secondary has been at the center of a couple of tough outings in a row that has seen the opposition throw for more than 800 yards.

–LB Clay Matthews went without a sack for just the sixth time in the last 16 games. Matthews had an apparent leg problem checked out by team medical personnel on the sideline during the third quarter but returned to the game.

–WR Randall Cobb had six catches for 27 yards, extending his streak with at least one reception to 47 games. He’s now tied with RB Ahman Green for the ninth longest reception streak in franchise history.


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