Apparently, Knowshon Moreno wasn't too comfortable giving up the spotlight to the Manning family.
Sunday's matchup between the Denver Broncos and New York Giants was built up as "Manning Bowl III," but in the end, it was the veteran running back who looked rejuvenated and led the Broncos to an impressive 41-23 win at MetLife Stadium.
The 26-year-old Moreno carried the ball 13 times for 93 yards and two touchdowns, while also chipping in three receptions for 14 yards. He paced another unstoppable offensive effort from Denver, which moves to 2-0, and it was another sieve-like defensive performance from New York, which drops to 0-2.
But, hey, there's always optimism:
Giants: 0-2 for 1st time since 2007, a season in which they went on to win the Super Bowl— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 15, 2013
But back to the Manning Bowl...older brother earned mom and pop's love for the night, throwing for 307 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions, while Eli benefited a bit from garbage-time plays en route to 362 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.
Despite the discrepancy in score, both teams actually exchanged blows for a large majority of the game, as a Brandon Jacobs short-yardage touchdown with three minutes left in the third cut Denver's lead to 17-16.
But then the wheels quickly came off for the home team.
Shortly before the end of the third quarter, Moreno scampered 25 yards into the end zone. As Grantland's Rembert Browne noticed, it was basically a cheat code:
Moreno just ran the Terrell Davis Gameday 98 sweep, of course he scored, it's unstoppable.— Rembert Browne (@rembert) September 15, 2013
Two plays later, an Eli Manning pass for Rueben Randle was broken up by cornerback Tony Carter. Not only did the fifth-year pro earn a pass deflection, but he also did his best Pele impression, perfectly rainbow-flicking the ball over his head to teammate Chris Harris for the interception.
Moreno responded with two big runs before Peyton found Julius Thomas for 11 yards to extend the lead to 31-16.
The Giants were forced to punt just five plays later, and they would subsequently learn that putting the ball in Trindon Holliday's hands is rarely a good idea. The explosive youngster weaved his way through the boys in blue and escaped for an 81-yard punt return touchdown.
Broncos Director of Media Relations Patrick Smyth noted the historical impact:
Trindon Holliday's 5 career punt or kickoff return TDs in reg season/playoffs rank 2nd in Broncos history behind Rick Upchurch (8).— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) September 15, 2013
The ever-dangerous threat finished the game with four punt returns for 121 yards.
Eli added a touchdown throw on a little dump-off to Da'Rel Scott, who sped his way to the 23-yard score at the 3:59 mark, but that's as close as the G-Men would get. A field goal from Matt Prater late in the fourth pushed the game to its final score, 41-23.
Peyton remains undefeated, at 3-0, in the Manning Bowl.
Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos: A-
There wasn't much more older hermano could have done in this one.
Peyton may not have approached seven touchdowns like he did in Week 1, but he was accurate— completing 30 of 43 of his throws (69.8 percent)—and didn't turn the ball over once. He consistently moved the ball down the field and would have put up even more points if it weren't for Montee Ball's early fumble or some drops by Broncos receivers.
Oh yeah, and he joined quite the exclusive group, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Peyton Manning: 9 TD passes in 2013. Via @eliassports that ties NFL record for most in 1st 2 games of season (Charley Johnson, Drew Brees)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 15, 2013
Ho-hum. Another week, another Peyton Manning milestone.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants: C-
Little brother was good at times. He racked up 362 yards and connected on more big plays than Peyton, averaging 7.4 yards per attempt.
Unfortunately, his mistake-prone ways from Week 1 followed him home.
His four interceptions tied a career high and gave him an absurd total of seven already on the season, putting him on the wrong kind of pace, per ESPN's D.J. Gallo:
Eli has 7 interceptions so far this season. No NFL quarterback has thrown 30 or more since 1988. You can do it Eli!— DJ Gallo (@DJGalloESPN) September 15, 2013
One pick was quite unlucky, but the other three were all in the end zone, taking away crucial potential points for the G-Men. Yuck.
Who was Denver's Player of the Game?
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos: A
Moreno was pretty much the forgotten back coming into this year, with much of the attention in Denver's backfield focused on rookie Montee Ball and the second-year Ronnie Hillman.
Those two are certainly the future, but right now, Moreno is making it clear he is the best running back in town.
Moreno ran with purpose on Sunday. He showed impressive vision and hit holes extremely hard, picking up big chunks of yardage at a time. He also contributed without the ball in his hands, laying this monstrous block:
In addition to his 6.7 yards per touch and two scores, Moreno's all-around performance also included a couple of key third-down conversions early in the game.
The undefeated Broncos host the Oakland Raiders for a division showdown on Monday Night Football in Week 3. Meanwhile, the 0-2 Giants head to Carolina for a matchup with the Panthers.