After compiling zero touchdowns and three interceptions during the first two preseason games, Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning entered his third preseason battle with many questions bubbling around the storied signal caller.
On his first drive, Manning led a commanding no-huddle offense upfield. The march ended with a 53-yard field goal nailed by kicker Matt Prater. Manning's first drive was three minutes long. Running back Willis McGahee was also productive on it.
After the Broncos defensive unit forced a 49er three-and-out, Manning and the Broncos started their second drive at their own 17-yard line. On first down, McGahee ran for a five yard loss, and the Broncos found themselves with a 3rd-and-6 after a medium-range completion to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas shortened the to-go distance on the second down.
Then wide receiver Brandon Stokley bobbled a one-hander and ran past the first down mark, McGahee picked up the blitz perfectly.
Manning ended up with a 3rd-and-2 before the Niners took their first timeout.
In a shotgun empty flex formation, Manning threw a 38-yard bomb to running back Lance Ball, and McGahee had a shake-and-bake first down reception on the next play.
Denver then found itself with a first-and-ten at the 49ers 12-yard line. Manning had previously struggled in the red zone, so he found himself facing yet another test. Manning threw a pass to wide receiver Eric Decker that went for paydirt. 10-0 Denver. All of Manning's six pass attempts on that drive were completions.
The 49ers bobbled a snap on their drive, and Denver took over at the Niners 24. Manning ended up with more red zone practice.
After a few run calls, the Broncos had a 1st-and-10 at the 12. Manning touched a pass to Stokley—a former favorite target in Indianapolis—for seven yards. On a 2nd-amd-3, Manning threw another touchdown to Decker. The score was 17-0 with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter.
Manning was replaced by backup Caleb Hanie following that second touchdown.
Unarguably his most productive game in Bronco orange, Manning looked sharp. He was 10/12, threw for 122 yards, two touchdowns, and posted a 148.6 rating. My rating for the game: A