DENVER – It’s becoming redundant.
Peyton Manning carved up yet another defense Monday night, threw three more touchdowns and set another NFL record in the Denver Broncos’ 37-21 win against the Oakland Raiders.
Manning’s touchdowns were his 10th, 11th and 12th of the season, as he became the first quarterback to throw that many touchdowns through the first three weeks of any season. Manning’s 12 TDs are four more than anyone else this season.
The Broncos have scored 127 points in three weeks, more than any team since the 1968 Dallas Cowboys.
This time, Manning did it in his first game without all-pro left tackle Ryan Clady, who was placed on injured reserve last week with a foot injury, against an Oakland team that led the NFL in sacks through two weeks.
How many other teams could survive the loss of a 30-sack linebacker (Von Miller) and a 12-time Pro Bowl cornerback (Champ Bailey) and now an elite left tackle? Manning and the Broncos’ rapid-paced, no-huddle, high-scoring offense has made it possible.
And here is what should be scary for the rest of the AFC: Bailey and Miller are on their way back.
Bailey, who hasn’t played since the second preseason game because of a foot injury, could make his debut next week against the Philadelphia Eagles, and Miller is halfway through his six-game suspension.
Against the Raiders, Manning and the Broncos solved the one issue that had plagued the offense through two weeks. Despite scoring more than 40 points in those wins, the Broncos hadn’t scored in the first quarter.
That changed Monday as Manning led a methodical 55-yard drive on Denver’s first possession and tossed a 2-yard touchdown pass to receiver Eric Decker. Kicker Matt Prater would later add a 53-yard field goal.
Manning also threw first-half touchdowns to receiver Wes Welker and tight end Julius Thomas.
Denver’s trio of tailbacks – Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball – combined for 166 rushing yards on 32 carries. Hillman scored his first touchdown of the season in the fourth quarter.
Oakland, led by quarterback Terrelle Pryor, managed to strike with several big plays – including a 73-yard touchdown to Denarius Moore and a trick-play scoring pass from running back Darren McFadden to fullback Marcel Reece. It was Pryor’s best game as a passer, with 281 passing yards and no interceptions.