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Broncos vs. Saints: Live Game Grades and Player Analysis for Denver

Travis WakemanCorrespondent IINovember 14, 2016

Broncos vs. Saints: Live Game Grades and Player Analysis for Denver

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    There was no comeback needed tonight.

    The Denver Broncos have made a habit of getting behind in games this season and then trying to mount a furious comeback. Tonight, in front of a national audience, they jumped on the Saints and never relented.

    Peyton Manning was crisp in picking apart the Saints secondary, set up by a potent running game.

    Drew Brees had to be mystified by what was thrown at him as he was able to throw for just 213 yards while completing just 22-of-42 passes.

    This bodes well for a Broncos team that seems to be hitting their stride at the midway point of the season. Starting next week with the Cincinnati Bengals, the Broncos play a schedule in which their remaining opponents have just a 21-36 combined win-loss record.

Quarterback: Peyton Manning

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    Overall Grade: A-


    Fourth Quarter: A


    It's been more of the same from Manning in the fourth quarter as he has picked the Saints defense apart and commanded the offense. Manning finishes the game with 305 yards passing, completing 22-of-30 throws.

    Manning has thrown for over 300 yards and at least three touchdowns in four straight games. The last quarterback to do that? Steve Young in 1998.


    Third Quarter: A


    Manning is having a very good outing tonight as the Broncos are starting to pour it on the Saints. Through three quarters, Manning is 18-of-24 passing for 278 yards and a 140.6 QB rating.

    Manning owes a great deal of that to his offensive line as they have given him a clean pocket to throw in all night. With no threat of a pass rush, Manning has carved up the Saints defense.


    Second Quarter: A


    Manning had a strong second quarter, throwing for 113 yards alone on 7-of-9 passing. He threw a 13-yard strike to Eric Decker for a touchdown on what had to be a either a slip or a blown coverage by New Orleans. That put Denver ahead 14-7. Late in the quarter, Manning smacked his hand on the helmet of a defender following through on a 34-yard completion to Thomas. It did seem to be giving him troubles as the team headed into the locker room, so it will be interesting to see how he handles it in the second half.


    First Quarter: B+


    Manning threw for 65 yards in the first quarter on 4-of-7 passing. He made an incredible throw through two rushing linebackers to Willis McGahee who ran it down to the goal line before scoring on the next play. Manning completed a 41-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas on the drive but missed Eric Decker in the end zone for what should have been a touchdown, though that was mostly Decker's fault.

    Manning definitely looks as though he's ready for a big night.


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    Overall Grade: A


    Fourth Quarter: A


    Denver started the fourth quarter off with a 2-yard scoring strike from Manning to Decker, his second of the night, to gain a 31-7 lead.

    The Broncos offensive stars all had big nights as Decker and Thomas combined for 11 receptions, 180 yards and three touchdowns.

    On the ground, McGahee had one of his best games of the season, rushing for 122 yards. Most encouraging was his 5.3 yards per carry average. McGahee also snared two passes for 33 yards.

    What could make this team really scary is the emergence of a change of pace running back. Hillman added another 86 yards on the ground. This is why the Broncos used a high draft choice on the former San Diego State star.


    Third Quarter: A


    Taking the ball to start the second half, the Broncos marched 93 yards down the field to go on top 24-7. On the drive, Manning hit Thomas for a 26-yard pass play and Hillman had a career long run of 31 yards.

    On the night, Thomas has six catches for 136 yards and a touchdown. That's 22.7 yards a catch.

    Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has to be feeling the frustration tonight as there is seemingly no stopping this Broncos offense tonight.



    Second Quarter:  A


    Denver continued to mix the run in with the pass and even got rookie Ronnie Hillman going. Hillman has complimented McGahee nicely tonight, running for 24 yards on seven carries. McGahee has had a strong first half with 63 yards rushing and they seem to be moving the ball at will against the Saints, yet they've only converted 2-of-6 third downs. Denver has outgained New Orleans 265-121 in the first half.

    The passing game looks great as Manning has been able to complete passes to six different receivers and they have three pass plays for 20+ yards.

    First Quarter: A-


    After an initial three-and-out to open the game, the Broncos offense was very sharp.

    The Broncos seemed intent to get the running game going, feeding the ball to Willis McGahee eight times and running it 10 times for 42 yards in the quarter.

    After being pinned on their own 2-yard line following a New Orleans punt, Manning masterfully led the team on a 98-yard scoring drive, capped off by a McGahee touchdown run, to open the scoring.

    The lone flaw of the first quarter was a McGahee fumble on a nice play by New Orleans defensive tackle Akeem Hicks.


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    Overall Grade: B+


    Fourth Quarter: B-


    The defense overall was incredible tonight as they held Brees and the high powered Saints to a total of 252 yards. While they probably let up a little bit, they still gave up a cheap touchdown near the end of the game when Brees hit Graham on an 18-yard strike.

    Still, this was a dominant performance by this defense and if they play like this, Denver could emerge as a favorite in the AFC, especially since they play a very favorable schedule going forward.


    Third Quarter: A+


    The offense has been great, but the Broncos defense has been even better. In the third quarter, Brees had just 22 yards passing and has been kept in check with only 126 on the night.

    Broncos defenders have been very aggressive and the tackling has been great. The Saints have been forced to punt five times.

    The Saints have lost four games this year, but this has to be their worst offensive output in a long time.



    Second Quarter: B-

    The second quarter got off to a rough start as the Broncos let Sproles get free coming out of the backfield and Brees hit him for a 29-yard score.

    After that, it was all Denver.

    They have contained Brees, allowing just 104 yards on 9-of-18 passing. New Orleans has yet to convert a third down in the game (0-for-5) and when they decided to go for it on 4th and two from the Denver 47-yard line, Brees threw it into the hands of Wesley Woodyard.

    Many fans seem to think the Broncos need suspended linebacker DJ Williams, but they really don't. Woodyard has had a very good year in his absence. Aside from the interception, he had a team leading 9 tackles and a sack in the first half.


    First Quarter: B+


    Denver forced New Orleans to open the game with a three-and-out and they held Saints quarterback Drew Brees to just 41 yards passing in the first half while keeping the Saints off the scoreboard.

    The Broncos have done a good job getting pressure on Brees, even forcing a fumble from the All-Pro quarterback. Unfortunately, the Broncos couldn't recover the ball even though Elvis Dumervil had at least two chances at it.

    In the secondary, the team has done a good job on the Saints wideouts with Tracy Porter being deactivated for the game. Saints tight end Jimmy Graham is active, however, and he will present a challenge for this defense tonight.

Special Teams

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    Overall Grade: A-


    Fourth Quarter: A


    It's been a great night all around in Denver. Prater kicked a 33-yard field goal with 5:27 remaining in the game to give the Broncos a 27 point lead.

    Colquitt averaged 46.4 yards on his five punts, placing three of those inside the 20-yard line.

    Denver still needs to get more out of the return game, but Trindon Holliday showed flashes tonight.Conversely, between both punt and kick returns, the Saints had a total of -1 yards.


    Third Quarter: A


    The Broncos are earning high grades in all phases of the game tonight. They finally had to kick the ball to Sproles on a punt, but he was met immediately for a 1-yard loss by Aaron Brewer, who made a great hustle play after snapping the ball.

    Colquitt hasn't been called on much but he is averaging almost 50 yards a punt.


    Second Quarter:  A


    The special teams unit continues to keep the ball away from Sproles. Denver did not have to punt the ball in the second quarter and just before halftime, Prater was able to kick a 33-yard field goal through the uprights to give Denver a two score lead at the break, 17-7.

    Denver gets the ball to start the second half.

    First Quarter:  B


    Matt Prater has booted every kickoff out of the end zone, wisely deciding not to give explosive return man Darren Sproles a chance.

    Britton Colquitt has been solid in the punting game as always, averaging 48.5 yards on two punts.

    The kick return game may haunt the Broncos the entire year. Trindon Holliday called for a fair catch on a punt where it looked like he had some room. On his second opportunity, he still looked a little shaky and got just six yards.


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    Overall Grade: A-


    Fourth Quarter:  A

    The coaching staff was up to the task tonight and called a great game. They kept Manning in situations where he would be successful and the mixture of the running game is what really sparked the offense as they were able to work off play action passes.

    On the season, Denver has given up a mere 13 points in the fourth quarter. That's staggering.


    Third Quarter: A


    Fox and his staff have called an excellent game tonight through three quarters and that is why the team is up by 17 heading into the final stretch.

    Teams that have the Saints on their schedule this year may want to watch film of how Denver has slowed down this offense.


    Second Quarter: A


    The second quarter belonged to the Broncos and that was largely because of the play calling, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

    Denver has done a great job of switching up defensive looks against Brees and the Saints had a very quiet first half. Don't forget, John Fox is no stranger to the Saints.

    In the second half, look for them to turn Manning and the passing attack loose as the Broncos could blow this game wide open.


    First Quarter: B+


    As Denver tried to open up some running lanes, it looked like they did a great job in noticing that Jonathan Vilma was playing out of his usual linebacker position, running right at him with success.

    The Saints come into this game ranked 30th in the NFL in passing defense, giving up over 300 yards per game. It's time to open the passing game and let Manning take some shots down the field on this team.

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