DENVER // Peyton Manning threw for 374 yards and three touchdowns to lift the Denver Broncos to another easy victory in the NFL on Monday, beating the overmatched Oakland Raiders 37-21.
It was Denver’s 14th straight regular-season win, tying the franchise record set in 1998 when the Broncos won their second Super Bowl. Denver’s 127 points this season lead the league and are 31 more than second-place Green Bay.
Manning’s first touchdown, a two-yard pass to Eric Decker, came after a subtle play action fake that froze the defense and left Decker uncovered in the back of the end zone.
His targets for the next two touchdowns, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas, did not have defenders within three steps of them – a sure sign Manning had diagnosed the defense well before the snap and knew exactly where he wanted to go with the ball.
Manning’s 12 touchdown passes are one more than Tom Brady’s old record for the first three games in an NFL season, set in 2011. He still has yet to throw an interception, which matches a record held by Michael Vick, who also threw 12 touchdowns before his first pick in 2010.
Manning’s game was not entirely perfect – there were the five incompletions, though two of them were flat-out drops and another two hit receivers in the hands but would have been difficult catches. The Broncos also settled for three field goals and had to punt once.
And Manning’s prediction that Chris Clark would be a seamless replacement for injured Ryan Clady as his blindside protector did not exactly pan out. Lamarr Houston beat Denver’s new starting left tackle in the third quarter for a sack and strip that halted a drive that had reached the Raiders 13.
Oakland’s Terrelle Pryor finished 19 for 28 for 281 yards but played catch-up from the start. The Raiders trailed 17-0 before Pryor hit Denarius Moore for a 73-yard score.
Four plays later, Manning connected with Thomas for a 13-yard score to push the lead back to 17.