Broncos Beat Cardinals, Instant Reaction and Analysis


Oct 5, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) are interviewed after the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 41-20. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

45. Final. 20. 32. 41

It was an impressive win for the Denver Broncos (3-1) at home against the previously undefeated Arizona Cardinals (3-1) in all facets of the game. Yes, the Cardinals were down a couple of key players (notably at QB) and yes, they lost two more key ones in the game (Calais Campbell, Patrick Peterson), but the Broncos kept jabbing at Arizona until finally, they delivered a couple of knockout blows.

Early on in the game, the Broncos were aided defensively by a couple of easy dropped passes. The Cardinals moved the ball down the field on their first two drives with relative ease, but Denver’s defense tightened up at the right time and really started to gain momentum toward the end of the first half.

The Broncos took a 24-13 lead into halftime, but a ridiculous touchdown from Cardinals rookie QB Logan Thomas to running back Andre Ellington cut the Broncos’ lead to just four points going into the fourth quarter, where they took the game over. A field goal by Brandon McManus started the fourth quarter scoring spree which ended in 17 points and the Broncos took a 41-20 win over a team that everyone said they should be afraid of.

This just in — the Broncos are a team that your team should be afraid of. Denver is finally clicking defensively. They didn’t force any turnovers, though they had one taken away and should have had a strip-sack on Logan Thomas on a play that was blown dead and ruled ineligible for a challenge.

John Fox was not happy about that.

The Broncos took advantage of the Cardinals’ situation at quarterback, as well as the Arizona offensive line, and it was an overall really impressive effort. Here are some of my notes from the game.

  • Demaryius Thomas was an absolute beast. The Broncos fed him the ball, and he ate. 16 targets later, Thomas ended the game with eight receptions for 226 yards and two touchdowns. The yardage total is a Broncos single game record, and Thomas was absolutely unstoppable for a majority of the game. Antonio Cromartie once again, despite being in a different uniform, was abused by Denver.
  • The orange crush has returned in Denver, methinks. The only thing that separated the Broncos from allowing six points and 20 points was a fluke touchdown pass from Thomas to Ellington that was one of the luckiest plays I’ve ever seen, as well as the interception Peyton Manning threw to Calais Campbell resulting in a five-yard field for the Cardinals’ offense.
  • Von Miller was dominant. Cardinals left tackle Bobby Massie couldn’t handle Miller, who had four QB hits, 1.5 sacks, and two TFL. Miller is back to his usual dominant self, and looked fantastic in this game getting pressure and making plays behind the line of scrimmage.
  • Emmanuel Sanders is a beast. He catches everything thrown his way, and had his third straight 100 yard game receiving. It’s a true shame he remains without a touchdown through four games, but those will come. Peyton Manning clearly trusts Sanders and the Broncos use him in a wide variety of ways. Clearly, this guy is going to be a central piece of the offense all year.
  • Ronnie who? When Montee Ball went out with a groin injury, either the offensive line started blocking or Ronnie Hillman was just able to fit through their small holes. He showed some great burst and finished the game with 15 carries for 64 yards. That is the kind of production the Broncos need to be able to rely upon weekly. If Ball misses a lot of time, which he could, Hillman will benefit greatly in his absence. Juwan Thompson also had a touchdown and got three carries for 15 yards. He’s a heck of a runner, and I’d love to see him get some more touches.
  • Chris Harris Jr. continues to prove he’s the best, most versatile cornerback in the NFL. He broke up four passes today and was absolutely lock down in his coverage. You can’t help but love watching this guy play and it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the NFL knows how good this guy is.
  • The offensive line deserves some recognition for their play, especially in pass protection. They allowed just one hit and one sack on Peyton Manning all day. Manning had two interceptions, but they weren’t the result of poor blocking by any means. Those are both on Manning. In terms of run blocking, they’ve looked lost in the first four games up until Montee Ball went out with an injury. When Hillman took over, they were pretty darn good.
  • Peyton Manning threw his 500th career touchdown pass, fittingly to Julius Thomas. Thomas had two TDs on the day, and is now up to seven on the season.
  • The Broncos were -2 in the turnover differential but had two turnovers taken away. I mentioned the strip sack that was blown dead, but there was also a punt muffed by Ted Ginn Jr. that was visibly fallen on by Kayvon Webster. Officials deemed the Cardinals had recovered the ball at the bottom of the pile.

Keep an eye out for our player grades from this game, coming soon!