Manning rallies Broncs to win
By Rob Longley, QMI Agency
|Broncos QB Peyton Manning did what he does best on Sunday, sparking a comeback win over the Bengals. (REUTERS)
First with the Indianapolis Colts and now with the Denver Broncos, receiver Brandon Stokley has seen quarterback Peyton Manning’s act for 14 years now.
So when Manning uncharacteristically tossed up a pair of interceptions on Sunday to let the Cincinnati Bengals jump out to a second-half lead, the last thing on Stokely’s mind was doubt.
“There’s no panic, he’s a great competitor,” Stokley said. “It’s what I’ve seen from him for 14 years.”
Sure enough, despite trailing 20-17 early in the fourth quarter, Manning engineered yet another fourth-quarter rally, the latest comeback in a career defined by them. By the time it was over, the Broncos were 31-23 winners and with a 5-3 record continuing to serve notice they could be a force in the AFC.
It was the 48th time in his career that Manning has put together a fourth-quarter rally, another sign that he is quickly distancing himself from the neck injury that cost him an entire season. The Broncos have now outscored their opponents 103-23 in the fourth quarter, the biggest margin in the NFL so far this season.
“I’ve been there before,” said Manning, who had three more touchdowns. “My dad (former NFL quarterback, Archie) always talked about getting back to level zero, erase the play from your mind and move on to the next one.
“(The interceptions were not) the scenario we wanted. Anytime you’re on the road and have a chance to put a team away, you want to do it. You don’t want to give a team a little life, which is what we did.”
The Broncos have won three in a row now and have a light schedule down the stretch with two games against the Chiefs plus dates vs. the Browns and Raiders in the second half of their season.
“All we are is 5-3,” Manning said. “Nothing beyond that. We’ve got a lot of things we’ve got to work on.”
FOR RAVENS, UGLY IS SOMETIMES BETTER
They may not be feared on defence as they once were and the intimidation factor has been neutralized, but the Baltimore Ravens remain a force in the sheltered world of the NFC North.
It wasn’t pretty in Cleveland on Sunday — par for the course for most visitors there — but the Ravens managed to escape with a 25-15 victory to improve their record this season to 6-2. Of greater note, it was their 11th consecutive divisional victory.
Though the Ravens trailed 15-14 at one point, Joe Flacco’s 19-yard TD toss to Torrey Smith with 4:26 left in the game sealed it. Flacco, by the way, will take a trip to Cleveland any time given that he is now an unblemished 10-0 against the Browns in his career as the Ravens starter.
The Ravens were certainly aided by a Browns offence that couldn’t produce when they got anywhere near the Baltimore end zone. Five times they made it inside the Ravens 20 and each time they had to settle for a field goal.
Don’t try to tell Ravens coach John Harbaugh that it was ugly, however.
“I don’t put any credence into winning ugly,” Harbaugh said. “Look around the league — this is not college football, this is the NFL. There’s not going to be a lot of pretty.
“We’ve got lots to work on. We’re trying to become a great football time. We’re not there by any stretch, but we’ve got a chance to get there.”
PERFECT TIME FOR PACKERS BYE WEEK
They managed to win their fourth game in a row, but the bye week couldn’t have come quick enough for the Green Bay Packers.
Already limping along due to injury as they attempt to keep pace with the Chicago Bears in the NFC North, the Packers lost wide receiver Jordy Nelson to an ankle injury early in Sunday’s 31-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals and later Clay Matthews to a hamstring injury.
Even quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn’t his usual efficient self, completing just 14 of 30 passes. Of course four of those were for touchdowns to provide just enough Lambeau Leaps for the home team.
Randall Cobb made up for some of the injuries, snagging two touchdown receptions and chipping in with a big 44-yard kickoff return.
With the big home win out of the way, the Packers are going to relish the break to get healthy and ready for what promised to be a fierce second-half run in the NFC.
“We need to get healthy, that’s what bye weeks are for,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “We’re 6-3 and we’ve got time to evaluate, step back, clean some things up and get ready for the grind.”
BEARS' DEFENCE ON ABSOLUTE TEAR
There are some offences in the NFL that could stand to be this productive.
We are talking about the Chicago Bears defence, of course, a unit that is not only fearsome in the way they beat up on opponents but a threat to score in every game they play. They did it again in Sunday’s 51-20 road thrashing of the Tennessee Titans to move to 7-1 and bolster their heavyweight contender status in the tough NFC.
This time it was linebacker Brian Urlacher putting up the big score, returning an errant Matt Hasselbeck pass for a 46-yard pick six in the first quarter. It was the Bears’ seventh interception for a touchdown this season, the most in NFL history through eight games.
“Our whole motto on defence is scoring,” said Bears cornerback Charles Tillman, who forced an incredible four fumbles against the Titans and had a game-high nine tackles. “We practise it every single day.”
It was that kind of day for the Bears in the Music City. By the end of the first quarter, they had scored 28 points — another team record. As the Chicago Tribune put it, they had scored for the cycle with touchdowns on defence, special teams and two offence— one on the run and another by pass.
How formidable was the D? By halftime the Bears had scored 31 points but had just 81 total yards.
“The defence sets us up,” said Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who had three touchdown tosses, all to. “We stumbled a little bit offensively, stumbled in the red zone ... these are definitely some things to work on offensively.”