Peyton Manning: Big-Play Defense Gives QB Necessary Support for Deep Playoff Run

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistNovember 12, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 11:   Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos looks to the sidelines during their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 11, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Giving Peyton Manning defensive support is like helping Eric Clapton play the electric guitar.

It's not necessary, and it's simply unfair to others who are trying to keep up.

The Carolina Panthers learned that lesson the hard way on Sunday, losing 36-14 to Denver despite only allowing one Manning touchdown.

Instead of scoring through the air, the Broncos scored one defensive touchdown, a special teams touchdown and even recorded a safety. Manning did throw for 300-plus yards, but it was his supporting cast that did the bulk of the work in Week 10.

Manning is more than capable of taking a team to the playoffs with an average defense. He won two AFC championships and a Super Bowl with extremely inconsistent Colts defenses behind him. What do you think he'll do with an above-average unit backing him this season?

The results could be scary for anyone outside of the Mile High city. 

Teams must fear this defense. Entering the game, it was a top-15 unit against both the run and the pass. The Broncos are allowing points here and there, but this is the same unit that allowed 14 points to New Orleans' high-octane attack.

But it's not about the points here. It's about the big plays that the defense/special teams add on top of Manning's production on a game-by-game basis. Whether it's guys like Tony Carter reading a desperate quarterback and returning an interception for a score:

Or, wide receiver Trindon Holliday returning a punt 76 yards for a touchdown:

These Broncos are making big plays. They're not just winning behind Manning's MVP-caliber season; it's a total team effort.

Sunday's win was impressive, and Manning was good, but it's the other parts of the box score that show just how scary Denver is. Forcing two turnovers, allowing just 250 total yards and sacking Cam Newton seven times are signs that this team will be a force to be reckoned with.

Denver has all the tools necessary to make a Super Bowl run. Considering it made the playoffs with Tim Tebow at the helm, making a major push with Manning running the show shouldn't be a problem.

Impressive performances are expected from Manning at this point. It's the defense that is making the difference now and will throughout the second half of the season and the playoffs.