Manning, Broncos improve to 7-0 with 29-10 rout of Packers
DENVER (AP) — This is exactly what Gary Kubiak envisioned when he returned to Denver: Peyton Manning running bootlegs and rollouts, using his tight ends as targets and watching his running backs race into the end zone.
The Broncos finally found some offense to go with all that defense, powering their way past the Green Bay Packers 29-10 Sunday night.
Any more questions about Denver’s worthiness as a contender or an unbeaten?
In only the fourth meeting of teams 6-0 or better, Manning tied Brett Favre’s NFL record with his 186th regular-season win and Denver’s defense rattled Aaron Rodgers into one of the worst games of his career.
Wearing the same blue jerseys they donned while beating the Packers for their first Super Bowl win in 1997, the Broncos dominated the Packers, outgaining them 500 yards to 140.
“It was just a big measuring stick for the whole team and everybody really took that to heart and stepped up to the challenge,” said DeMarcus Ware, whose fourth-quarter sack of Rodgers resulted in a safety.
The Broncos are 7-0 for the first time since their 1998 team that won the Super Bowl after going 14-2.
The Packers (6-1) fell from the unbeaten ranks, throttled not only by the league’s stingiest defense but by a quarterback who finally looked like a five-time MVP and not a creaky 39-year-old learning a new system.
“I felt we beat a good football team tonight,” Manning said. “It took the whole team ... Great job by the defense.”
And, at long last, by the embattled Broncos offense that scored more points on Green Bay than any opponent this season.
Manning didn’t throw a touchdown pass hours after brother Eli lost despite throwing six of them. The Packers intercepted him late in the fourth quarter but allowed Manning to complete 21 of 29 passes for 340 yards.
So, maybe this marriage of Manning and Kubiak will work out after all.
“I’ve been very determined to get comfortable in this offense,” Manning said. “... I knew this was not going to be an easy transition. I can’t say that a lot of what’s happened has been a surprise to me. It was kind of what I expected, there were going to be some rough times, rough patches and rough parts of the transition.”
Rodgers was 14 of 22 for just 77 yards — the lowest total of his career in a game where he wasn’t knocked out by injury. He was sacked three times and hit several more, including four hits on Green Bay’s first drive alone that had Rodgers making hurried throws the rest of the night.
“We had goals and hit all our goals tonight,” Von Miller said.
Along with Rodgers over and over.
“It’s a good defense,” Rodgers said, “a really good defense. They have a good pass rush. They cover well.”
And hit hard.
“Compliment Denver. That’s a humbling loss,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said, adding that he hadn’t had his butt “kicked like that in a long time.”
Ronnie Hillman ran for two touchdowns in helping Denver build a 17-0 lead and when he was on the sideline with a sore thigh, C.J. Anderson ran for a 28-yard TD that made it 24-10.
Anderson ran for 101 yards and Hillman 60, and Demaryius Thomas caught eight passes for 168 yards.
Also making a sudden appearance in Denver’s offense were the tight ends — as targets. Freed up from blocking with the offensive line meshing like it hadn’t all season, they gave Manning an option over the middle he’d been missing since losing Julius Thomas and Jacob Tamme to free agency.
Virgil Green caught three passes for 61 yards and Owen Daniels had three for 44.
The Packers came into the game leading the league with 66 first-quarter points, but Rodgers was hit early and often as the Broncos’ pass rush hemmed him in and didn’t let him loop around for his patented re-sets.
“He’s a very elusive quarterback and we had to make sure he was corralled in the pocket,” Ware said.
At halftime, the Broncos inducted owner Pat Bowlen into their ring of fame. Bowlen, 71, stepped down from his daily duties running the team 15 months ago to fight Alzheimer’s disease and was not in attendance. Terrell Davis, the hero of the ‘97 Super Bowl team that was honored before the game, said Bowlen “may not be here in body, but he’s definitely here in spirit.”
NOTES: In the three previous matchups of unblemished teams this late in the season, none was a blowout. In 1921, the Akron Pros and Buffalo All-Americans tied 0-0. In 1973, the Vikings beat the Rams 10-9 and in 2007, the Patriots beat the Colts 24-20. ... Packers CBs Sam Shields and Quinten Rollins left in the first half with shoulder injuries.