The Denver Broncos returned home to Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Week 14 to take on the Tennessee Titans. They were able to smash the Titans 51-28 on Sunday. They have the best record in the AFC (11-2), and with three games remaining, they control their own playoff destiny. If they win their final three regular-season games, the Broncos will earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
This victory sealed the 20th playoff appearance for the Broncos in their team history. Peyton Manning now has the most seasons (13) leading a team to the playoffs in NFL history. This new mark passes the old record (12) held by Brett Favre.
This game marked the return of head coach John Fox. He missed four games due to the heart surgery he had during the team's bye week. Fox was excited to earn a playoff berth, but his eyes are on a bigger prize: "Our biggest goal is to get to the 'big game' [the Super Bowl] and win the big game."
Entering this season, the Broncos had scored 50 or more points only once (vs. the Chargers 10/6/63) in their history. Sunday’s 51-point outing is the third time they’ve scored 50 or more in 2013. Denver is also the first team since the NFL merger to score at least 50 points in three different games in a season.
The Broncos have now scored 515 points this season. That is more than the previous high (501 points) from their 1998 season. With three games left to go, the Broncos could put this mark over 600 points.
Denver’s offense was sharp, especially in the second half, against the Titans. Their 91 offensive plays were the most in team history for a non-overtime game.
The Broncos also did something on Sunday they had not since playing the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4. The team had zero turnovers, and they won the turnover battle (plus-two) for only the third time in 2013.
Peyton Manning had something to prove on Sunday.
Entering this game, many wondered how Manning would perform in the arctic temperatures that have gripped Denver this week. Manning threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns against the Titans.
The temperature at kickoff was 18 degrees, and Manning became the first player in nine years (2004 Kerry Collins, Raiders) to throw at least four touchdown passes with the temperature below 20 degrees. He was also the first player in five years (2008 Matt Schaub, Texans) to throw for at least 390 yards in sub-20-degree weather.
After the game, tight end Julius Thomas spoke about Manning’s cold-weather critics: "I’m sure he’s tired of hearing it; he’s been playing so great all season, he’s been playing great his entire career and just to hear people nitpicking about something like the cold; for him to be able to come out there and put 50 on the board and put that whole cold thing to bed, I’m sure he’ll be happy to see that behind him tomorrow."
Andy Lindahl, from 850 KOA, tweeted out Manning’s comments from the postgame show hosted by Dave Logan.
Clearly, Manning wanted to make a statement. The rest of the NFL certainly received the message he sent on Sunday.
Manning certainly gets a top grade for his performance, but it was far from a perfect game for the rest of the players on the roster.
Check out the grades for each Broncos player against the Titans.
All quotes and injury/practice observations were obtained firsthand. Record/Statistical information provided via email from the Denver Broncos.