San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos: Winners and Losers
The Broncos opened up the game with a 17-0 lead, caused by three Peyton Manning drives that all led to scores. Manning finished the game 10-for-12 for 122 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, for the first time all preseason long, Manning didn't turn the ball over a single time.
The Broncos went into the second half with a 24-10 lead, where the Broncos would be outscored in the second half 19-0. For the second straight week, Denver's backups were shut out and blew yet another lead in starting the second half.
You will see plenty of winners from the starting lineup. Let's just say you won't see many winners amongst the backups on this list.
Manning was the biggest winner on Sunday. Not just of any Bronco, but of any player on the field period.
There is really nothing bad that I can say about Peyton's performance. He was 10-for-12, and his completions in the end zone, especially the one to Eric Decker on his last pass of the day, were the perfect example of why Manning is one of the greatest quarterback of all-time.
His anticipation, touch and ability to throw and complete passes while under duress may be second to none.
At least for this game vs. San Francisco, Manning looked every bit the quarterback that he was in Indianapolis. And with the ever-changing rules in the NFL about protecting the passer, it wouldn't shock me if we continue to see Manning play the way that he did vs. San Francisco as the season progresses.
Winner: Peyton Manning
Decker caught both of Manning's touchdown throws, finished with four receptions for 38 yards and continued to add credibility to the debate that he might end up as Manning's favorite target in 2012.
Manning and Decker have been working together ever since Manning signed with the Broncos. Other than ex-teammates Brandon Stokley and Jacob Tamme, Manning has more chemistry with Decker than any other receiver on this roster.
Eric continues to display that he is a sure-handed threat who can make plays in the intermediate passing game when it pertains to moving the chains. He has also proven to be a touchdown magnet with not only Manning, but Kyle Orton in the past.
With Decker's blazing speed and athleticism, do not be shocked if Eric and Demaryius Thomas are neck and neck in terms of targets throughout 2012.
We already know Manning's penchant for spreading the ball around the field.
Winner: Eric Decker
The Broncos defense was on full display in helping lead the team to a 17-0 lead. They caused a fumble recovery which gave Manning and the offense only 24 yards to work with until scoring a touchdown.
The starting defense held the Niners to 14 total yards rushing. They were pretty much perfect for the most part, except for one blemish.
I know it is unfair to grade a player based upon one play. Every player makes mistakes, and every player is human.
Having said that, Rahim Moore had problems with this in his rookie season, and he had a problem with it in this game. The problem was that he was at fault for a 44-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis that cut Denver's lead to 17-7.
Davis ran a sideline route where Von Miller had initially covered him, but as color commentator Troy Aikman said, Moore was supposed to come over to help out Miller in this situation.
Moore was late, and because he was late in dropping back into coverage from biting on the run, Davis ran past him for a 44-yard touchdown on what may have been the easiest scoring play in the entire game.
Moore is currently listed as the starting free safety, and in order to maintain that starting spot, he must avoid giving up back-breaking plays that completely negate the rest of his performance on game days.
Loser: Rahim Moore
I hate to be hard on the kid because I like him so much. I really don't think that this performance was indicative of what he is capable of on the football field, and considering it was his first actual pro game, I should cut him some slack.
However, I do need to name "losers" on this list, not just "winners," so Hillman has to be plugged in this article.
Hillman had missed the first two preseason games due to a nagging hamstring injury that has plagued him all throughout training camp. He had missed the first two preseason games. Upon entering the game in the third quarter when Brock Osweiler and all of the third-stringers came in, Hillman never really had much room to work with.
The offensive line failed to create much of a running space, and therefore, Hillman didn't have the space to show off his speed or his playmaking abilities.
As I said before, I believe this game is a blemish, but Broncos fans have to admit that Hillman's progress thus far has been a bit disappointing, especially considering that Hillman was expected to be Willis McGahee's backup in 2012.
Loser: Ronnie Hillman
Lance Ball/Knowshon Moreno
Yet again these guys were on display on Sunday afternoon.
Once again, these guys showed how much of a threat they are when it pertains to receiving the football.
Ball led the Broncos in receiving yards for the game with 42 yards on two receptions. He had a 38-yard reception, which led to the Broncos' first touchdown of the game. Moreno likewise had a solid game in his few drives of play, catching a nice pass in the flats on his way to an 18 yard pass reception. He had two catches for 26 yards.
Having said that, Moreno yet again showed how mediocre of a running threat he is. He ran for 16 yards on five touches.
Moreno's track record of running the football goes a little like this. He'll have a run for about two yards, have a nice run for about four yards, have a run of about no gain and then run the ball for another two or three yards. It's nice when you have a solid run, but when you have a solid run once every four carries, you simply can't be a starting back in the NFL.
Ball had one carry, and we already know that he's a little bit limited when it comes to running the football.
The Broncos have to make a decision on whether they want to keep Moreno or Ball. Both are solid in pass protection and can make plays in the open. When it comes to running the football, they don't provide any threat.
Hence, this neutral grade.
Winners and Losers: Knowshon Moreno and Lance Ball
So, the guy that was primed to be Manning's backup entering 2012 has laid a dud two consecutive weeks now.
Does that mean we're going to have Caleb Hanie as our backup quarterback for 2012? I know that thought scared a lot of Broncos fans.
Osweiler went 4-of-9 for 27 yards, had a pass batted down at the line of scrimmage and failed to get into a rhythm. Hell, he failed to move the Broncos down the field. In Osweiler's drives, he failed to move the Broncos past their own 45-yard line.
In the process of looking bad for a second straight week, this time to a third-string defense while leading the Broncos to zero points for a second straight game, he gave Caleb Hanie the insider's edge at winning the backup quarterback job for now.
Loser: Brock Osweiler
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