QB Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
HT: 6-5, WT: 230, Born: 3-24-1976, College: Tennessee, Drafted: Round 1, Pick 1
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Average draft position
Current as of May 6th. [Full ADP list]Overall: D McFadden (33), L Fitzgerald (34), Peyton Manning (35), C Newton (36), R Cobb (37)
Position: D Brees (19-QB2), T Brady (30-QB3), Peyton Manning (35 - QB4), C Newton (36-QB5), M Ryan (51-QB6)
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Peyton Manning had near career best numbers during his first season with the Denver Broncos. With the addition of Wes Welker we could see those numbers grow in 2013. The Broncos are going to use 11 personnel (3WR) as their base set and will work out of an up tempo, no (or short) huddle offense. An increase in the number of snaps will only mean more opportunity for Manning to dominate. His arm strength wasn't quite what it used to be last year but Manning proved he could still play at a high level despite the four neck procedures he underwent in 2011. The team upgraded their offensive line when they add Louis Vasquez in free agency. Denver also addressed the ground game when they selected running back Montee Ball (Wisconsin) in the second-round of the 2013 NFL draft. Protecting Manning better and being able to run the ball in critical situations will greatly help the veteran quarterback.
Latest NewsBroncos | Peyton Manning praises Charles Woodson (Mon May 20, 07:48 PM) - Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning praised free-agent CB Charles Woodson, saying he would like to have him join the team. "We're always looking to add great players," Manning said. "That has been pretty evident since the time I've been here that management is always looking to add excellent football players through the draft or via free agency. I had a chance to visit with Charles when he was here last week and certainly, that'd be a great addition to our team. I know there is the business side of it that comes into play, but there's no question that any time you can add good football players at any position, I think that's always a good thing." Our View: The Broncos brought Woodson out to Dove Valley last week for a tryout. The team offered him a contract but Woodson has not decided yet on his future. He's also drawn interest from teams like the Raiders, Giants, and Panthers.
link to story Broncos | Wes Welker making an impact (Mon May 20, 07:08 PM) - Denver Broncos WR Wes Welker is already making an impression on the Denver Broncos as he is trying to get on the same page with QB Peyton Manning. "Wes and I will continue to work and try to get on the same page," Manning told reporters on Monday. "I thought we had excellent production last year at the slot out of [WR] Brandon Stokley and adding Wes as a new player--we're looking forward to getting on the same page." Our View: Welker looked good at OTAs today according to our very own Cecil Lammey. We'll see the Broncos use 11 personnel (3WR) as their base set in order to get Welker, Demaryius Thomas, and Eric Decker on the field at the same time. He may not catch over 110 passes this year but we wouldn't be surprised to see him catch around 90 on the season.
link to story Broncos | Peyton Manning's arm looks stronger (Mon May 20, 06:03 PM) - Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning was impressive during the first day of OTAs out at Dove Valley. In fact, those media members in attendance believed his arm looked stronger than it did last year. Our View: Good news for Manning and the Broncos here. Fantasy owners need to take note here and realize he could put up even better numbers than he did in 2012. Adam Gase is the new Offensive Coordinator for the Broncos and will feature 11 personnel (3 WR) as the base set. Adding Wes Welker to the mix with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker is a fantasy gold mine.
link to story Broncos | Gain cap space (Mon May 20, 12:44 PM) - The Denver Broncos gained some salary cap flexibility over the next two seasons after they made some changes to QB Peyton Manning's contract late last week. The team insured themselves against have to pay Manning's $20 million salary in 2014 in the event that he won't be able to play because of a non-neck injury that might be suffered in 2013. Under the new deal, Manning will receive a $10 million salary advance in exchange for his base salaries in 2013 and 2014 being lowered to $15 million each year. The $10 million advance will be treated like a signing bonus and will be prorated over four seasons. As a result, Manning's cap number will be lowered by $2.5 million in both 2013 and 2014, but then rises by $2.5 million in 2015 and 2016. link to story Broncos | Peyton Manning signs revised deal (Fri May 17, 08:32 AM) - Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning signed a 'renegotiated' contract, but sources with knowledge of the deal said the new terms don't change his compensation. The contract, according to the source, adds an insurance clause, which reflects that the team has purchased an insurance policy in the event Manning suffers a serious injury. The insurance would both compensate the Broncos and provide a cap credit in the event Manning can't play. Manning will earn $40 million guaranteed over the next two seasons, in $20 million chunks for 2013 and 2014, respectively. The Broncos can avoid the $20 million payment in 2014 only if Manning suffers injury to the same area of his neck that kept him from playing in 2011. Our View: The move makes sense for both sides. Manning is set to lead the Broncos deep into the postseason in 2013. Added weapons like WR Wes Welker and RB Montee Ball should help Manning put up even better numbers this season.
link to story More News
|2||at New York Giants|
|5||at Dallas Cowboys|
|7||at Indianapolis Colts|
|10||at San Diego Chargers|
|11||Kansas City Chiefs|
|12||at New England Patriots|
|13||at Kansas City Chiefs|
|15||San Diego Chargers|
|16||at Houston Texans|
|17||at Oakland Raiders|
2012 Game Summaries
Week 1 - After a solid-but-unspectacular start, Denver employed the no-huddle offense and really found a groove. Manning was calling his own plays, reading the defense, and running whatever the defense was giving him. He threw some wobbly balls, but they were always accurate and made it to the intended target far more often than not. Manning’s mental ability was never in question, and he certainly showed why. His physical ability, however, was what everyone wanted to evaluate. Never confused with a cannon-armed guy like Matthew Stafford, Manning appeared as if he hadn’t lost too much of his fastball. He made both of his top wideouts viable options as they both received seven targets and had five receptions. Manning was able to make throws to both sides of the field, but it seemed as if his more challenging outside throws were to his left. If there was a weakness in his game, he didn’t give the Pittsburgh defense time to find and exploit it.
Week 2 - ut the fairytale on ice fellas, at least for the moment anyway. Manning's first quarter was one to remember, except for the wrong reasons. Manning threw three interceptions in the first quarter of a game for the first time in over a decade(Tom Brady in 2001). Each interception was eerily similar as they were all deep passes slightly to the right of the middle of the field. He also didn't see defenders on each throw. His first interception went to William Moore as he dropped into the middle third of three deep coverage. Moore beat Jacob Tamme to the football as Moore was in better position to attack the ball while Tamme was falling away from it. Manning was rattled after that interception as he messed up his footwork with his center on the next play, turned the wrong way on a handoff to his back after that before throwing another interception. This time Thomas DeCoud undercut a severely under thrown pass to Brandon Stokley who was streaking down the middle of the field. Manning's third interception came when he was trying to hit Stokley on the same route, but overthrew him. Manning may have never seen Robert McClain, who drifted in from the sideline to catch the ball with ease, as he tried to throw the ball over another defender into Stokley's arms. Despite having a clean pocket on each of his interceptions, Manning failed to recognize the defense alignment and made bad decisions trying to throw passes into windows that never existed. A fourth interception should have come late in the first half when he threw the ball directly to Dunta Robinson in the endzone. Fortunately for him, Stokley made a good play on the ball to break it up. Manning rebounded from that with a perfect pass(perfect in the sense of accurate, but the ball itself was wobbling horribly) to the corner of the endzone to Demaryius Thomas for a touchdown. Manning did rebound well after the first quarter, but he didn't take another shot downfield until there were eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, when he missed Brandon Stokley on a post route. For all the negatives in the game, Manning led a valiant comeback effort by completing short passes to his receivers and checking to the running game when the Falcons gave him favorable looks. Mentally, Manning is still 100 percent, but physically he still has a way to go.
Week 3 - Statistically Manning’s numbers looked awfully vintage Peyton. However, for three quarters the Bronco passing offense really struggled to get much going. It has been beaten to death already, but many of the question marks about Manning’s arm strength were relevant again early. Early throws which required any zip often came out wobbly and took forever to find their target, assuming they even made it that far. On the Broncos’ 2nd drive, Manning and Jacob Tamme connected on a 3rd and five for 14 yards, but it really took some extra torque (has to affect mechanics slightly) for Manning to get it into the fairly tight window and the ball couldn’t have been uglier as it wobbled through the air (makes for a tougher catch). The following drive, on a play action fake, Manning had Eric Decker running free on a deep post, but the ball was slightly underthrown. Decker was forced to slow to make the catch resulting in a 35-yard pass. 35-yard completions are great, except that it could have been a TD had there been more on the throw allowing Decker to run under it instead of having to slow down. Manning continued to try and work the back shoulder throw to both Decker and Demaryus Thomas, but each was significantly underthrown. Decker finally made a great one-handed catch on one, however, as he lost his footing, but was able to bring the 26-yard catch in with one hand. Houston dared Manning to beat them on deep throws all game, often bringing pressure and matching up in man on the outside. For three quarters the plan worked like a charm, as Manning and the offense could only muster three FGs. However, with time winding down, the Denver offense made a change to their pace, going hurry-up as they did in week 1 vs. the Steelers. Manning looked like a completely different QB, and the apparent struggles with deep passes seemed to dissipate. Following a Ben Tate fumble at midfield, it took Manning all of two plays to find Brandon Stokley on a great throw and catch up the seam for a 38-yard TD. Denver continued to go no-huddle on their next drive and again Manning looked much better. Manning just missed Tamme on an out-route, who nearly made an incredible catch, just missing dragging his left foot. Manning found Stokley again over the middle for 12 yards, his 4th catch of the quarter. After a bad drop by Thomas, Manning stepped up in the pocket and found Tamme in the slot on in-route for 11 yards. Later in the drive, Manning hit Thomas on a beautiful would-be 31-yard TD pass, but Thomas failed to drag his foot and the TD was ultimately overturned. After a horrendous pass-interference call on Kareem Jackson in the end zone, the Broncos (Manning?) inexplicably called back-to-back running plays. Not only did Denver lose five yards on those plays, but they also lost precious time (a full minute Manning could have used on the final drive). Manning would eventually find Dreessen on a 6-yard TD pass after the ball deflected off Decker’s hands and fell right to Dreessen. In three games, it is quite evident Manning and the offense clicks best in the hurry-up, so it is hard not to imagine it becoming a larger part of the offense as the season progresses. Manning didn’t throw any INTs on the day, but its safe to say Houston dropped at least two (could be up to five), one of which Jonathan Joseph would have easily walked into the end zone. One of those potential INTs looked eerily similar to the Monday night game last week vs. the Falcons, as Manning tried to go deep over the middle, but the pass took forever to arrive and safety Glover Quin, who had plenty of time to make a break on the ball, should have picked it off.
Week 4 - After being shut out of the end zone for three games in the 1st quarter, it was evident Peyton Manning and the Broncos were hell bent on getting a faster start on Sunday. Finally heeding to the success of the no-huddle, Manning didn’t take long to work down the field for an opening 22-yard TD pass to Joel Dreessen. Manning used all of his weapons on the 80-yard drive, completing passes four different receivers. Just like in the three weeks prior, and especially last Sunday versus the Texans, Manning looked like the Peyton of old, surgically slicing and dicing the short handed Oakland defensive backfield via the no-huddle and the short passing game. Afraid to leave their corners susceptible, Oakland often only rushed four, not forcing a rushed throw from Manning until Denver’s 2nd to last drive, when the game was well at hand. Manning’s longest throw down the field was his 22-yard strike to Dreessen, with the majority of the Bronco big plays coming on catch and runs from his wide-outs. After nearly throwing an INT on the first drive after the timing was disrupted on a short crossing route, Manning completed 11 straight passes. Richard Seymour was able to get a hand into the passing lane and got just enough of the throw to disrupt the flight of the pass and knock it out of Decker’s reach in the back of the end zone to break the string of 11 consecutive completions. After finding success in terms of yardage on the field, but not on the scoreboard in the first half (a Thomas fumble erased what would have been at least a FG after a long catch and run on a quick screen), Manning made sure to rectify that disparity in the 3rd quarter. What was a four point lead coming out of halftime ballooned into a 25 point lead by the start of the 4th quarter. With no pressure coming from the Oakland defense, Manning was free to hit his underneath receivers ad nauseam. The Broncos first drive of the 2nd half continued the trend established in the first. Manning used the running game to get into short 3rd downs and then easily picked them up with the short passing game. Ronnie Hillman turned a short dump off on 2nd down into a 29-yard gain. Oakland tried to blitz the next play, but Manning found Decker on a quick in for six. After a short run by McGahee, Manning rolled to his left at a bunch formation and found Decker on the quick out on 3rd down. Oakland completely blew the coverage as the corner closed on Manning, leaving Decker to take the three yard out and race up the sideline for the 17-yard TD. Manning would again look to Thomas on the quick screen, but this time on the opposite side of the field for 24 yards. Manning would just miss Decker on the next play, as he found him in the end zone, but Decker was only able to get one foot down before tumbling out of bounds. 2nd down saw Manning again dumping off over the middle to the RB and Lance Ball took the short pass 14 yards for a TD. Manning and the Bronco offense outgained Oakland 181 to 11 in the 3rd quarter and outscored them 21-0, leaving no doubt heading into the 4th quarter. While Manning and his pass catchers appeared to get their timing down (after looking so dreadful the week prior) against Oakland, but temper the enthusiasm just a bit as Oakland was really shorthanded on defense (safety Michael Huff was forced to play corner). Despite the concerns, and apparent struggles, the past two weeks from the passing offense, it still is Peyton Manning. The accuracy and decision making is there (even if the arm strength isn’t always there) and Oakland could do nothing to press disrupt those.
Week 5 - Peyton Manning was playing from behind almost from the opening kickoff. Willis McGahee did a fine job keeping relative balance to the offense, but this game was about Manning running the Denver passing attack. He was not afraid to throw the ball down the field, drawing a pass interference call on one occasion to Eric Decker and finding Demaryius Thomas on numerous occasions for big gains. Early in the game, Manning was delivering the ball quickly and keeping New England’s pass rush at bay. As the game progressed in the second half, Manning was hit more often when the Broncos were down by multiple scores. Manning rarely was off-target. His most notable miss was a wide open Jacob Tamme, where Peyton sailed a pass high that would have resulted in a 15-20 yard gain. Manning was never rattled and even drove the team down on scoring drives in the second half to keep the game within reach, despite being down by a score of 31-7 late in the third quarter. His biggest throw of the night came on a fourth down play late in the game, hitting Demaryius Thomas on a deep back shoulder timing throw for the clutch conversion. Manning was in sync with his receivers most of the day and remains a strong QB1 in fantasy leagues every week.
Week 6 - We could just say “Peyton is back” and leave it at that, because the stat line and the comeback speak for themselves. The night wasn’t without its trying moments, but they were always alternated with greatness. Manning threw a pick-six, completed 80% of his passes, was shut out prior to halftime which matched the largest halftime deficit of his career, and led the biggest comeback in the history of Monday Night Football all in a span of three quarters. And just think, his 309 yards, three touchdown performance could have been even better if WR Eric Decker hadn’t tripped for what should have been an easy first half touchdown. That play came with Denver still sitting on zero points. A blown coverage in the San Diego secondary led to Decker waltzing deep downfield with nothing in front of him but the end zone. Manning quickly found him for a 55-yard pass completion, but Decker tripped and fell over the San Diego 45-yard line. There wasn’t a defender near him. That should have gone for an 85-yard score. Instead, Manning threw a costly (at the time) interception that was returned the other way for a San Diego score. As with most interceptions, there was some miscommunication between Manning and his receiver. The receiver took off upfield while Manning threw is soft underneath for the turnover. It wasn’t entirely clear which player made the worse read, but in either case at halftime, things looked bleak for Denver. But in the second half, the offense came alive. They engineered a quick touchdown drive in just over four minutes, culminating with Manning’s perfect scoring strike that split the defenders to WR Demaryius Thomas. The Broncos gave their quarterback loads of time to throw, and he stepped forward in the pocket looking like the vintage Manning of old. Denver did a much better job of picking up the blitz in the second half, and guys were open all over the place. His second score was a great individual effort by the aforementioned Decker, who got a head of steam on a screen pass and carried several Chargers into the end zone with him. The final touchdown pass of Manning’s day was just a beautifully thrown ball on a fade to his old reliable target, WR Brandon Stokley. The catch was also fantastic, as Stokley did a great job keeping his feet inbounds as he came down with the ball and the Denver lead. Two defensive scores also aided in the comeback for sure, but Manning’s calm demeanor and precision in the second half was nothing short of remarkable. While it’s true that the Chargers did a lot to give this game away, it is equally true that Manning certainly showed more than enough this week to prove that he is clearly back amongst the elite quarterbacks in the league.
Week 8 - Outside of one forced throw on the opening drive, when the Saints blitzed and he threw a hot route blindly to Curtis Lofton who dropped a surefire interception, Manning was outstanding in this game. It obviously helped that he was going against what is likely the worst pass defense in the whole NFL, but still Manning showed his typical poise and control of the whole offense. Manning's first big gain was a deep post route to Demaryius Thomas that was completed with relative ease, but he did miss Eric Decker on exactly the same play from the opposite side soon after. Those two plays were indicative of what was to come however as both Decker and Thomas were open all day. Manning took care of the football all day, except for that early throw, and completed three easy touchdown passes: One went to Thomas in single coverage at the goalline on a backshoulder throw, while the other two went to Eric Decker on excellently run routes. Manning's comfort level in the game was reflected on a 98 yard touchdown drive that led to Willis McGahee's opening score. It was only Manning's third 98+ yard touchdown drive of his career.
Week 9 - Manning was on-point and in control outside of two plays in this game. He controlled the line of scrimmage with sustained drives and clutch reads on third down. In a game where Manning was rarely under pressure, the Broncos opened up a 10-3 lead, which frankly felt like a far greater advantage. In the first half, Manning was 15-for-20 with a majority of his incompletions coming not from inaccuracy, but his receivers not fighting for the ball against the defensive backs. With a 17-10 lead late in the third quarter, things unraveled quickly for Manning. With the Broncos in the red zone, Manning targeted Eric Decker on a quick slant where Terrance Newman was physical at the line of scrimmage and beat the receiver to the inside position. Manning threw it to a spot and the result was a costly interception. On the very next drive, the Broncos were backed up at their own goal line. On successive plays, Chris Kuper, Denver’s starting right guard was injured and Manning followed with yet another interception. Again, it was Newman on the receiving end when Manning overthrew Decker on a deep route. Those two plays were the sole reason Cincinnati took their temporary lead to open the fourth quarter and the game was not a multiple score Denver lead throughout the second half. After that sequence, Manning returned to his efficient ways, drawing a deep defensive pass interference penalty by targeting Demaryius Thomas and throwing two short touchdowns to sew up the game. Despite the two interceptions, Manning was on his game against Cincinnati and showed, once again, why he is an automatic start every week in fantasy.
Week 10 - Peyton Manning put on a masterful display at the quarterback position against Carolina, using all the tools at his disposal to maximise the Broncos’ offensive output. Manning used his feet to great effect in this game; the Panthers’ pass rush continued their strong form and forced him out of the pocket on occasion. It was no obstacle for Manning, who tossed several passes with beautiful touch to his receivers. The Panthers defense did a good job disguising their coverage and making tackles, but Manning was able to take advantage of their man coverage on occasion, ‘picking’ defenders to find the open man. Manning read the intentions of the Panthers’ defense very well the entire game and mixed in the run to good effect. Manning tossed his lone touchdown pass of the game to Brandon Stokley, a favourite target in this contest. In the red zone, with three receivers lined up to the right side, Manning came around on a designed rollout, with his receivers running patterns to that side. Stokley, seeing the Panthers’ aggressive pursuit, simply waited in the middle of the field and Manning found him with ease. A special teams and defensive touchdown double meant that Manning did not have to force things for the remainder of the game, and the play-calling reflected that. A blown pass protection by RT Orlando Franklin caused Manning to fumble the football late on, but that was the lone gaffe in protection; otherwise, the Broncos were solid as usual.
Week 11 - The quarterback, who had historically struggled against the Chargers prior to this season, exacted some more revenge on his former nemesis in this game. He beat them for the second time this season and simultaneously all but wrapped up the AFC West division title. Manning was nearly flawless, getting loads of time to operate and making great decision after great decision. In fact, his stat line could have been far more impressive but he just barely missed on two long passes down the sideline – one to WR Demaryius Thomas and another to TE Jacob Tamme. Thomas was jammed at the line, and the timing was disrupted. The pass to Tamme was simply an overthrow, though it appeared that Tamme may have been able to catch it and did in fact get a hand on it. Aside from those two near-hits, one of the only blemishes on Manning’s afternoon was a tipped pass that ended up getting intercepted and returned for a touchdown. That was San Diego’s one and only lead of the game, and Manning quickly turned things around for the better for the Broncos. He threw two touchdowns prior to halftime. The first was a perfect pass over the shoulder of Thomas, who did a nice job of dragging his back foot to keep inbounds for the score. With that score, Manning passed Dan Marino for second place all-time in passing touchdowns with 421. He added number 422 soon after with a phenomenal pump fake underneath to draw the defenders off his man. He then lofted one up top into the end zone to WR Brandon Stokley for the wide open score. Early in the second half, Manning found himself under pressure in the end zone. He was unable to avoid the rush, and was wrapped up for the safety. But it was the last time Manning would be so much as slowed down. Midway through the third quarter, the Broncos sat at the 20-yard line. Getting all day to throw, Manning was able to wait for WR Eric Decker to streak free across the middle of the field. The San Diego defenders lost him in traffic, so he was able to take off for the end zone after the catch and dive in at the last moment for the score. Late in the fourth quarter with the Chargers pulling closer, Manning found Tamme down the seam for 31 yards on a third and 18 pass play to chew up valuable clock time (the drive eventually led to a field goal).
Week 12 - Manning was once again slowed by a Romeo Crennel defense, but in the end he did enough to lead his team to victory. He was plagued by drops, and it started on his second throw. Manning threw a beautiful pass down the seam to Brandon Stokley who was lit up and dropped the pass. The highlight of the next drive was a 29 yard completion to Eric Decker on a deep cross. Manning had great protection on the play, which was notable because for most of the drive he did not. Manning showed outward frustration with his line, and the drive ended with a missed field goal. Manning’s frustration continued in the second quarter after dinking and dunking his way to mid field. Manning took his first shot deep to Decker, a terrible decision considering he’d been bracketed from the snap. The pass was picked off by Brandon Flowers. Manning bounced back well, leading a 94 yard touchdown drive to end the half. It started with brilliant decision making on the first play. The play was a designed swing pass and Manning had almost released the ball when he saw Justin Houston jump the route. Most quarterback would have thrown a pick there but Manning calmly found Demaryius Thomas over the middle for a 15 yard gain. After a deep completion to Stokley, Manning perfectly placed a couple of slants to Jacob Tamme, including the final one of the drive for a seven yard touchdown. Manning struggled on the first drive of the second half, and again looked uncomfortable in the pocket, but quickly found his rhythm on the Broncos second drive of the half. He finished that drive with a perfectly placed 30 yard pass down the left sideline for a touchdown to Thomas. Coverage was actually pretty good on the play, but Manning placed the ball so perfectly that it didn’t matter. Manning completed only one of his next ten attempts, but made two huge throws to essentially ice the game late in the 4th quarter. Both came on third down with the Chiefs needing to get the ball back and both went to Demaryius Thomas, who was wide open. It was quite a chess match between Manning and Crennel, but in the end Manning won if only because Crennel’s defense didn’t score any points.
Week 13 - If it was a tale of two halves for Josh Freeman, it really was a tale of one quarter for Peyton Manning and the Bronco offense. While Manning never really struggled (only one three and out when the game was in question), the third quarter saw a three-point deficit turn into an 18-point lead. Manning opened the game looking as sharp as ever. His two favorite targets on Sunday, Manning hit Demaryius Thomas on an in for eight yards and Jacob Tamme on an out for six in consecutive plays. Going right back to Tamme two plays later, the two connected over the middle for ten yards. Eric Decker slid across the field on short crosser and Manning hit him in perfect stride, picking up 12 yards on the play. Manning went to the end zone the following play, over shooting Thomas on the deep sideline route. Joel Dreessen lost Manning’s next throw in the sun on the quick out, but a penalty on the following play extended the drive. Setting up shop on the Buccaneer one-yard line, Manning faked the hand off before finding wide-open NT Mitch Unrein (who had lined up at FB) in the end zone for the short TD pass. The 2nd drive was the aforementioned lone three and out, with one more completion to Tamme for nine yards before a bad snap killed the drive. Manning and the offense went run heavy on their 3rd drive, but the QB still managed to connect with Thomas on a beautiful 28-yard (the longest play of the day) play fake down the sideline. With tremendous anticipation, Manning dropped the pass right behind the coverage, allowing Thomas to use his speed to run under the throw. Manning connected with Thomas again on a favorite play of theirs on the following drive. Using a quick play action, Manning hit Thomas just off the line and the WR did the rest, picking up 19 yards. The following play Manning connected with Matt Willis over the middle for nine yards before the drive stalled with a bad drop from Knowshon Moreno in the flat. The offense continued to sputter as the 2nd half began, having to punt on their opening possession, but a flip in field position combined with a struggling Tampa offense meant more opportunities for Manning. Taking over at their own 48, Manning threw every play of the 2nd drive in the 3rd quarter. Just like the Broncos’ opening drive of the game, Manning went to Thomas for 13 yards on a comeback off play action before hitting Tamme on an out for 15 yards. Manning just missed Tamme on the following play down the seam, throwing behind his TE who couldn’t adjust to the pass. After a pass interference penalty took the offense to the Tampa eight, Manning threw what may have been his best throw of the day. Just as Thomas came out of his break in the back of the end zone, Manning placed (literally, as there is no way Thomas adjusted that quickly) the ball in Thomas’ arms for the eight-yard TD. Manning’s always been uber-accurate, but this was taking accuracy to an entirely different level. Taking over with good field position again on the following drive, Manning worked right down the field again. Manning hit Tamme over the middle for 14 yards and again on an out for nine with a short dump to Moreno for five yards sandwiched in-between. Three plays later, with the offense at the Tampa ten, Manning and Thomas connected again for a TD, this time for 10 yards on a shallow post. Manning made his lone mistake the following drive, not putting enough air on the throw to Tamme over the middle and LB Lavonte David was able to pluck the shallow throw out of the air for the INT. With a 15-point lead to start the 4th quarter, Manning and the Bronco offense went into full clock killing mode, eating up nearly half the 4th quarter. Just as he had done on so many drives prior, Manning hit Thomas and Tamme on the first two plays, for eight and six yards, respectively. Three plays later Manning hit Decker on a shallow crosser for five yards before a quick screen to Tamme went for four yards two plays later. Manning went right back to Tamme down the seam for 15 yards on the following play. Manning nearly made another mistake three plays later, attempting to utilize the Tamme screen as a fake and hit Thomas, who was feigning a block, down the field. Because Manning didn’t step into the throw, the pass was in the air for forever and S Ahmad Black nearly came up with the INT. One more incompletion over the middle to Dreessen in the end zone brought the FG team on to extend the lead to 18. Tampa did a nice job limiting the big play, but Manning was more than happy to work underneath and the shorter routes, essentially doing what he pleased on each possession.
Week 14 - Manning should have been intercepted with his second throw of the game, but a holding penalty explained why he threw the ball straight to Tyvon Branch. Once that interception was written off, Manning led his team down the field with quick decisions, missing twice with an underthrow to Tamme and a miscommunication with Demaryius Thomas, before rifling a pass to Joel Dressen on a curl route in the endzone. Manning was being very precise while making good decisions while driving the Broncos down the field, but he was intercepted deep down the right sideline when he underthrew Brandon Stokley. Questions obviously arose over Manning's arm strength instantly, but much of the throw's poor trajectory was a result of the pressure applied by LaMarr Houston. Manning should have been intercepted again during the Broncos' two minute drill as he escaped the pocket, too quickly, and threw on the run to Eric Deker in the flat. Deker was beaten on the route and a Raiders' defensive back failed to make a diving interception. Manning didn't have anything near his best game, but against the Raiders you can afford to just be 60 percent efficient if you are Peyton Manning. Much of Manning's struggles also can be traced back to impressive play from the Raiders' defense who dominated the trenches at times.
Week 15 - Peyton Manning had a solid if unspectacular day in the box score, but he played better than his stats indicate. His biggest blemish was a blatant overthrew on an easy long touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas, but he also suffered a couple drops here and there, as every quarterback does. Manning faced serious pressure in spurts on a couple drives, but had a fairly clean pocket most of the day, as the Ravens defense slogged through injuries and ineffectiveness that has plagued it throughout the season. Manning's lone touchdown was a beautiful play action call from about 50 yards deep to Eric Decker in which Decker simply stutter stepped his way past 1 on 1 coverage. It's worth noting the cornerback completely gave up on the play, or might have chased Decker down. Manning and Decker also had a near 2nd TD that was initially ruled as such, but was later called down at the half yard line. Jacob Hester ended up cashing that touchdown instead. The Broncos could have also extended more drives, but some of the receivers ended up running routes short of first downs on third down plays.
Week 16 - After two subpar fantasy performances, Manning returned to his dominant, high volume ways against Cleveland this week. He started with a bang, connecting on 10-of-11 early pass attempts, including a gorgeous touchdown to Demaryius Thomas in tight coverage. He led two touchdown drives to open the game, the second of which was a vintage 15-play, 7-minute drive to take a 14-3 advantage. The lone glaring mistake for Manning in the first half was a poor decision in the red zone that led to an interception. With a touchdown, Denver could have took a commanding 21-3 lead to the locker room, but the turnover gave the underdog Browns some life. Manning rolled left and threw well-short of Knowshon Moreno in the corner on the end zone. The defensive back made a great diving catch on the poor throw to halt yet another long Denver drive. After 285 total yards and 18 first downs in the first half, Manning and the offense only needed to manage the game in the final 30 minutes. Manning led yet another long touchdown drive in the third quarter to seal the game. This time it was 12 plays, covering 91 yards and ending with Manning finding Eric Decker for a score on a contested slant route. With 26 first downs, 420 total yards through three quarters, the Broncos had more than enough to ice the game against a Cleveland offense that failed to move the ball on a majority of their drives. Manning was in-rhythm, rarely pressured, and had the benefit of his playmakers making plays throughout the game. With 4,300+ yards and 34 touchdowns heading into the final weekend with a bye week still in play for Denver, Manning is a strong candidate for comeback player of the year and MVP for 2012.
Week 17 - Manning capped off a terrific comeback season with a terrifyingly efficient performance against a beleaguered divisional opponent in the Chiefs. Completing nearly eighty percent of his pass attempts, Manning averaged over ten yards per attempt and threw for over three hundred yards for the ninth time this season. Two of his three touchdown passes – one each to Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas – were ladder-climbing, degree-of-difficulty throws in which Manning put rock-solid trust in his receivers to make plays, and make plays they did. His third touchdown pass was an easy pitch-and-catch throw to Decker in the back of the Chiefs’ end zone. The Chiefs had no chance of defending these plays, either, as Manning placed these balls into positions where only his wideouts could catch them. The Chiefs defense had no answer for one of the NFL’s all-time greats. The Broncos’ offensive line kept a clean pocket, and at times when Manning sensed pressure, he easily stepped up in the pocket to get the ball out. Manning ran Denver’s no-huddle offense at a breakneck pace, read Kansas City’s defense with ease, and changed plays at the line of scrimmage whenever necessary. Manning routinely led his receivers into positions on the field where they could make hay, notably on a twenty-nine yard completion to Brandon Stokely on a deep crossing route, and a twenty-yard completion to Demaryius Thomas on a hitch route. Kansas City tried to defend Manning, at least for three quarters, but the Chiefs basically watched the veteran quarterback pick them apart, play after play. Manning’s audibles at the line of scrimmages set up his running backs to chew up yardage, and his receivers to run routes that would generate big gains. He read Kansas City’s defense better than Kansas City read its own defense. To top it all off, he Manning did not play in the fourth quarter. In his fifteenth year in the NFL, coming off multiple neck surgeries, Manning seems to be playing at a level that eclipses his prime, and an apocalyptic AFC playoff matchup between he and Tom Brady seems all but inevitable.
Week 19 - Manning once again had an up-and-down playoff performance, this time against the Baltimore Ravens. The stage was set for a deep Denver run with a balanced offense, strong defense, a special teams unit capable of big plays, and the no.1 seed for good measure. Trindon Holliday did more than his share in the return game with two scores, including a first quarter punt return that staked Denver to an early lead. Manning got off to a rough start with an interception that deflected off of Eric Decker’s shoulder pad which was returned for a touchdown. He rebounded with a strong set of long touchdown drives in the first half, including two gorgeous throws to Brandon Stokley and Knowshon Moreno on fade routes in the end zone. Manning was able to control the clock for most of the first half, but Denver chose to kneel with 30 seconds to go in the first half with two timeouts at their disposal. Manning was 14-of-19 with two scores at that point in time. The second half featured pressure on Manning in the pocket, getting him off of his spot in the pocket, which led to inaccuracy, a sack, and a lost fumble. Denver found itself in a similar situation at the end of regulation as the first half: with the ball, two timeouts, but choosing to kneel and go to overtime. Manning did not look comfortable in overtime, much like the entire second half. As the first 15 minutes of extra time was winding down, Manning had a Brett Favre-like throw across his body towards the middle of the field that was intercepted. The poor throw staked Baltimore just short of field goal range, which they moved into position for the double-overtime victory. Peyton Manning’s 2012 season reads much like his typical former years in Indianapolis: led his team with impressive statistics to a high playoff seed, but comes up short in their biggest games of the season. Manning played through the season without an injury to speak of and will return in 2013 with a similar cast of weapons around him and another year of chemistry under his belt. While he will have to wait a full 12 months for another shot at playoff glory, he is in a great situation to be one of the top regular season quarterbacks again in 2013.