Manning finds his way as Broncos top Packers 29-10
DENVER (AP) — It felt like Turn Back the Clock Night in Denver, and how far back simply depended on which position you played.
For quarterback Peyton Manning, Sunday night's game may have felt more like 2012 or 2013, when the offense set records and the critics had nothing to nitpick.
For anyone on the defense, maybe it felt like a throwback to 1977, when the vaunted Orange Crush put this franchise on the map.
And for the Broncos as a team, it was more like the late 1990s, when 7-0 starts and big wins over the Packers were the things that Super Bowl seasons were made of.
Manning played his best game of a difficult season and Denver turned a much-anticipated matchup with Green Bay into a 29-10 blowout — a game in which the scoreboard didn't reflect the magnitude of the beatdown.
Denver outgained Green Bay 500 yards to 140. The defense held Aaron Rodgers to 77 yards, while Manning threw for a season-high 340, then took some joy in delivering a Peyton-like jab to the critics who said he was washed up.
"I don't look at this like an 'I told you so' moment because I don't really listen to what you say in the first place," he said. "That's kind of been my approach."
The Broncos used the occasion of playing the Packers to induct owner Pat Bowlen into their Ring of Fame, and also bring back members of their first title team — the 1997 squad that beat Green Bay in the Super Bowl.
The Broncos won it again the next season, too, and this year's team is the first to go 7-0 since those 1998 champions.
Things we learned from Denver's win over the Packers:
TYING FAVRE: Manning's 186th career regular-season win tied him with Brett Favre for the most all time, and he can set the NFL record next week at Indianapolis, where he registered 141 of those wins.
"I've played with a lot of players and a lot of coaches that have all been a part of those wins," Manning said. "Sometimes it might be a quarterback's record, but I look at all those as a number of people contributing to all those wins."
GROUND GAME: It's November, so maybe it's time for another C.J. Anderson breakout. Last year, his spectacular second half landed him in the Pro Bowl.
After struggling to replicate that success this season behind a reshuffled line and against stacked fronts, Anderson watched Ronnie Hillman move ahead of him on the depth chart.
Hillman made his first start since last Nov. 9 and scored two quick TDs against the Packers. Anderson came in and ran 14 times or 101 yards and a 28-yard score that put Denver ahead 24-10. With Hillman's 60 yards, the Broncos had their best ground game of the season.
"It was great," Anderson said. "Me and Ronnie are helping each other and using each other's eyes and talking to each other on the sidelines. I think we're becoming more in sync. With his play and my play, we're becoming more in sync with the offensive line and that's a good feeling."
ANEMIC OFFENSE: Rodgers didn't complete a pass of longer than 17 yards. The longest run by Green Bay: 17 yards by Rodgers. The last time Green Bay's offense was held to under 150 yards was Week 13 in 2013 at Detroit, when it had 126 in a 40-10 loss, according to STATS. "It's a good defense, a really good defense," Rodgers said. "They have a good pass rush. They cover well. I think tonight was more about what we didn't do. We didn't execute in the run game, didn't execute in the pass game, didn't convert third downs. That's why we got beat."
TOP COMPETITION: No time to think about the loss to Manning and the Broncos. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers — 6-0 heading into Monday night's game against Indianapolis — are next.
"It's something that you kind of take a day to just reflect on, get all your emotions out," guard T.J. Lang said. "In this league, it's such a fast turn-around to the next opponent, you don't have time to really sulk about your loss. You've got to get over it pretty quick."
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