The Denver quarterback threw for 330 yards and four touchdowns to lead a victory over San Diego on Sunday 28-20.
Against Peyton Manning, near-perfection required
SAN DIEGO, California // The San Diego Chargers got to the Denver 22-yard line or closer three times in the second quarter on Sunday. Nick Novak kicked field goals of 26 and 40 yards, and then was wide left from 37 yards.
Against Peyton Manning, it wasn’t enough.
Manning threw for 330 yards and four touchdowns, three to Demaryius Thomas, as he efficiently led the Broncos to a 28-20 victory in their first game since coach John Fox had heart surgery.
“We had a chance there with a couple of them and we knew how important it was this week to score touchdowns and not settle for field goals,” Philip Rivers said.
With interim coach Jack Del Rio in charge, Manning kept the Broncos (8-1) rolling. He threw touchdown passes of 11, 7 and 34 yards to Thomas on consecutive drives spanning the second and third quarters, staking the Broncos to a 28-6 lead.
Julius Thomas had a 74-yard catch-and-run on Denver’s first drive, turning a short pass into the second-longest play by a tight end in team history.
The Broncos’ scoring drives lasted 57 seconds; 2 minutes, 27 seconds, 1:25, and 3:26.
Manning has thrown for 3,249 yards and 33 touchdowns in nine games. He completed 25 of 36 passes against the Chargers.
The Chargers (4-5) closed the gap late in the second half but couldn’t catch up.
“Give Denver a lot of credit. That is a very good football team,” said rookie Chargers coach Mike McCoy, who was Denver’s offensive coordinator the past four seasons.
The Broncos were without Fox, who was recovering at his off-season home in Charlotte, NC.
”I told him not to be yelling at me during the game. It’s not good for his blood pressure,” Manning said. “I’m not sure we’ll see if he did or didn’t. But he was in our thoughts. Coach Del Rio has done a good job all week keeping us updated on coach Fox.”
OTHER SUNDAY RESULTS
Jaguars 29, Titans 27
Maurice Jones-Drew and Jordan Todman each ran for a touchdown as the Jacksonville Jaguars held off the Tennessee Titans 29-27.
The Jaguars (1-8) scored the most points in a game this season for first-year coach Gus Bradley to earn their first win. They never trailed and forced four turnovers they turned into 17 points.
Ravens 20, Bengals 17 (overtime)
Justin Tucker kicked a 46-yard field goal with 5:27 left in overtime as the Ravens won after blowing a 17-point halftime lead and giving up a touchdown on the final play of regulation.
The tense victory ended a three-game skid for the Ravens (4-5) and thrust them into a second-place tie in the division, just one game behind Cincinnati (6-4) in the loss column. It was the defending Super Bowl champions’ first victory since October 6.
Saints 49, Cowboys 17
Drew Brees completed 34 of 41 passes for 392 yards and four touchdowns as New Orleans beat Dallas.
The Saints (7-2) had an NFL-record 40 first downs and a franchise-record 625 total yards.
Brees connected with Kenny Stills on a 52-yard touchdown pass, with Marques Colston on a 22-yard scoring strike, with running back Pierre Thomas for a 1-yard score and with running back Darren Sproles for a 28-yard score with 5 seconds left in the first half.
Panthers 10, 49ers 9
Drayton Florence’s interception in the final minute sealed victory for Carolina to snap the San Francisco 49ers’ five-game winning streak and give the Panthers their fifth straight win.
Graham Gano kicked a 53-yard field goal with 10:05 remaining that held up as the Panthers (6-3) twice shut down Colin Kaepernick on last-ditch drives with swarming defence.
DeAngelo Williams broke two tackles for a 27-yard touchdown run late in the first half that pulled Carolina within 9-7. Gano missed wide left on a 48-yard field goal in the third period, but came through later.
Cardinals 27, Texans 24
Carson Palmer threw two touchdown passes as the Cardinals sent the Texans to their franchise-record seventh consecutive loss.
The Texans (2-7) were without coach Gary Kubiak, who collapsed on the sidelines against Indianapolis last Sunday night with what was diagnosed as a mini-stroke. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is filling in as interim coach.
Arizona (5-4) scored on the game’s first play when John Abraham knocked the ball out of Case Keenum’s arm and Matt Shaughnessy returned it 6 yards for a touchdown.
Keenum threw three touchdown passes, two on remarkable catches by Andre Johnson.
JJ Watt forced two fumbles, recovering both for Houston. The second one set up Johnson’s 5-yard TD catch that cut the lead to three with 4:34 to play.
Lions 21, Bears 19
Calvin Johnson had two second-half touchdown receptions and Reggie Bush rushed for 105 yards as the Lions took over first place in the NFC North.
Johnson broke Herman Moore’s franchise record with his 63rd career touchdown reception with 2:22 to go, giving the Lions a 21-13 lead with a 14-yard grab. He also had a tiebreaking 4-yard TD reception on the first drive in the third quarter.
Bush had 89 yards on the ground in the second half as Detroit (6-3) swept the season series against Chicago (5-4).
Jay Cutler threw for 250 yards and a touchdown in his first action since he injured his groin last month. He looked progressively worse as the game wore on and departed before the Bears’ final drive with what the team said was an ankle injury.
Seahawks 33, Falcons 10
Russell Wilson threw a pair of touchdowns passes and Marshawn Lynch ran for 145 yards in a one-sided follow-up to last season’s NFC divisional play-offs.
After struggling for victories the last two weeks, the first-place Seahawks (9-1) blew out a team that not so long ago was talking Super Bowl, but now is just two defeats away from their first losing season since 2007.
Rams 38, Colts 8
Tavon Austin returned one punt 98 yards for a touchdown, caught TD passes of 57 and 81 yards and almost single-handedly ended the Rams’ three-game losing streak.
The touchdown catches were the only receptions Austin had on his biggest day of the season, and St Louis (4-6) won for the first time since Kellen Clemens replaced the injured Sam Bradford.
Eagles 27, Packers 13
A week after equalling the NFL record by passing for seven TDs, Nick Foles connected for three long touchdowns against the injury-ravaged Packers.
Foles connected with DeSean Jackson for a 55-yard score in the first half. Touchdown passes to Riley Cooper from 45 and 32 yards highlighted a 17-point second half for the up-tempo Eagles.
The Eagles, the NFL’s road warriors, improved to 5-5, with all their victories coming away from Philly.
Philadelphia handed Green Bay their first back-to-back home losses since 2008, Aaron Rodgers’ first season as the starter. It was the worst home loss for the Packers since falling 38-10 to the New York Jets on December 3, 2006.
Giants 24, Raiders 20
Terrell Thomas returned an interception 65 yards to set up a go-ahead 1-yard touchdown run by fellow comebacker Andre Brown as the Giants won their third straight game.
The error-prone Giants (3-6) handed the Raiders (3-6) their first 17 points on first-half turnovers. But they got 115 yards rushing by Brown in his first game this season – he’s had two broken left legs the last two years – and another big defensive game to keep their season alive.
Despite throwing another pick-6, Eli Manning threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Rueben Randle, and Cooper Taylor scored on a 21-yard return with a blocked punt. Josh Brown added a field goal.
Steelers 23, Bills 10
Pittsburgh shut down rookie quarterback EJ Manuel in his return.
A week after giving up 610 yards and 55 points in a loss to New England, Pittsburgh held the Bills (3-7) to 227 total yards, more than one-third coming on a meaningless drive in the final minutes.
Manuel completed 22 of 39 passes for 155 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The Steelers limited Buffalo to 95 yards rushing, nearly 50 below its average, and sacked Manuel three times.
Ben Roethlisberger passed for 204 yards and a touchdown, Le’Veon Bell added 52 yards rushing and a score as the Steelers (3-6) snapped a two-game losing streak.