The Denver Broncos may have lost their biggest preseason game so far according to the scoreboard, but when the starters were on the field they whipped the San Francisco 49ers and looked like a serious contender. Peyton Manning finally put forth the performance Broncos Country was waiting for in what was the last full dress rehearsal until the season opener. All that remains until that first regular season game is a glorified walkthrough against the Arizona Cardinals later this week.
Manning looked like his old self on three quick scoring drives that included his first two touchdown passes. The national television audience also saw Manning take his first big hit which didn’t faze him at all. He finished 1o for 12 passing with 122 yards and a quarterback rating of 148.6. Those who still had questions about Manning had them answered in a big way yesterday. Peyton is back, and the rest of the league has taken notice.
Here are some thoughts on the preseason game against the 49ers:
- The Broncos starters were on fire yesterday. Had they gotten the chance to stay in there I think the first team offense would have put up 40+ points easily.
- The replacement referees were embarrassing. The inconsistencies of their penalties coupled with their confusion with the rules during a Denver challenge made me cringe. It doesn’t sound like a new deal is close to getting done but I’m ready for the league to get this issue figured out.
- For the second week in a row the backups got blown out in the second half. They’ve lost those four quarters by a combined score of 40-0. Depth is clearly an issue with this team so I wouldn’t be surprised if we bring in some new players once other teams start trimming their rosters.
- Ronnie Hillman saw significant action for the first time and registered 29 rushing yards on 10 carries and 1 catch. Denver didn’t get very creative with him just yet but it was good to see him getting reps in a game setting.
- The player of the game would have to be Eric Decker. He caught 4 passes for 38 yards and 2 touchdowns, and it seems like he is getting on the same page with Manning. That could spell trouble for opposing defenses this year.
- Just when I thought Knowshon Moreno was probably heading out the door he looked as good as I’ve ever seen him. He showed some explosiveness and finished with 42 total yards on 7 touches. He may have played his way onto the final roster.
- Caleb Hanie started slow but ended up leading Denver on a nice touchdown drive in the second quarter. He finished 8 for 12 passing with 92 yards and his touchdown pass went to fellow Colorado State University standout Joel Dreessen. Hanie provided the lone offensive highlight for the Broncos after Manning left the game, and although he also threw an interception, he might have taken a big step towards winning the backup job.
- Elvis Dumervil got another sack to add to his impressive preseason. Watching guys like Von Miller, Derek Wolfe, and Dumervil work during these last few games has given me big hopes for the defense this year. If Manning can lead the offense like he did yesterday and win the time of possession, the talented Denver pass rushers will be fresh late in games will be even more effective.
- Denver will wrap up the preseason this Thursday night against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium. Most of the starters won’t play a down but it’s a big night for those who are still on the bubble for making the team. It will also serve as an opportunity for some to display their skills to other teams around the league. Biggest of all however, it’s the final hurdle until the regular season. Go Broncos!