Denver Broncos: Winners and Losers from Week 3 vs. Houston Texans
Down 31-11 entering the fourth, the Broncos got two touchdown passes from Peyton Manning in the quarter—one off a lucky bounce—but they couldn't score in the end and fell to the Texans 31-25.
The Broncos now sit at 1-2 with a home game against their bitter rivals the Oakland Raiders next on the docket.
But instead of looking at that matchup, let's see who were the winners and losers for the Broncos in their loss to Houston.
Despite the loss, Manning led the comeback rally and finished the game with 330 yards passing. At times it didn't seem like he was getting much help from his teammates, but he hung in the pocket and completed 26 passes.
Manning also finished the game with his 64th career 300-yard passing game, surging past Dan Marino for the most in NFL history.
The Broncos lost this game, but it wasn't because of Manning.
Eric Decker and Brandon Stokley
Decker and Stokley provided solid targets for Manning throughout the game. Decker had 136 yards receiving on eight catches while Stokley made a catch all six times he was targeted, gaining 73 yards.
Stokley had a 38-yard score, catching the ball in tight coverage to pull the Broncos to within 13 points. He's also reestablishing the once-solid relationship he had with Manning in Indianapolis and should be a top offensive weapon for the Broncos as the season progresses.
Woodyard provides a spark on defense, and he is becoming a vocal leader, getting the crowd behind the unit.
His one-handed interception right before halftime was not only amazing, it likely kept points off the board as the Texans were driving. The Broncos then took the ball down the field following the turnover and converted it into a field goal, getting three critical points before the break.
The Broncos had to become a one-dimensional team on Sunday as the running game was very mediocre.
In total, the team ran 21 times for only 59 yards, a 2.8 yard average. Willis McGahee had only 36 yards on 12 carries before leaving with an injury.
Before the game, the team made Knowshon Moreno inactive and went with its rookie third-round pick Ronnie Hillman. In his NFL debut, Hillman had two carries for seven yards and one catch for just one yard.
The severity of McGahee's injury is not yet known, but if he misses any time, the Broncos will be hurting at the position to be sure.
Texans' quarterback Matt Schaub had little trouble exposing the Broncos secondary in this game, throwing for 290 yards.
But it was the big play that the Denver defense was most susceptible to.
In the first half, Schaub threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson and then a 52-yarder to Kevin Walter. It looked like a missed assignment in the secondary on the Johnson score, as he got behind everybody. Schaub finished the game with four touchdown passes.
From this point forward, the Broncos will need to focus on shutting down the big play, especially with a Raider team coming in that likes to use its speed and throw the deep ball.
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