Peyton Manning is really good. And against the New Orleans Saints' struggling defense, he became simply unstoppable.
Manning completed 22-of-30 throws for 305 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions, as he led the Denver Broncos (4-3) to an easy 34-14 win over the Saints (2-5) on Sunday Night Football.
The Sean Payton-less Saints have failed to slow any quarterback this year, and against what most believe to be the front-runner for MVP, they didn't stand a chance. Manning led touchdown drives of 98, 56, 93 and 51 yards as he torched New Orleans' secondary with pinpoint accuracy and impressive arm strength, leaving visions of the 2004 Peyton Manning. Via ESPN Stats & Info:
#Broncos Peyton Manning has thrown 3+ TD in 4 straight games. That's his longest such single-season streak since 2004 (8 games)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 29, 2012
On one play in the second quarter, Manning stood in to fierce pressure and delivered an absolute strike to Eric Decker. Sports Illustrated's Peter King summed up the throw pretty well:
That has to be Manning's throw of the year. Third-and-7, getting nailed in the chin, perfect 24-yard throw to Decker.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) October 29, 2012
Just like classic Peyton, he spread the ball out beautifully.
Demaryius Thomas was the main target, once again, with 137 yards and a touchdown on seven catches, but Decker chipped in 43 yards and two scores, five other receivers recorded a reception, and three had at least 30 yards.
What's even scarier—for the rest of the AFC—is that Denver's passing game might not even have been its most impressive aspect of the game.
Willis McGahee racked up 122 yards and a score on 23 carries, while talented rookie Ronnie Hillman took the ball 13 times for a lofty 83 yards.
Finally, the Broncos defense held a normally stout New Orleans offensive attack to just 14 points and 253 total yards.
Drew Brees completed a mediocre 52.4 percent of his throws for 213 yards, two touchdowns—one of which came in garbage time to Jimmy Graham—and an interception, while Pierre Thomas led the rushing attack with a measly 43 yards on eight carries.
The Broncos may be just 4-3, but this dominant all-around performance marks yet another notch in their consistent week-to-week improvement.
In a weak division, the playoffs are almost a guarantee, and with Peyton Manning and the entire Denver squad playing at a mile-high level, they shouldn't be overlooked in the AFC.