Denver Broncos defeat Arizona Cardinals 41-20 behind Peyton Manning’s 500th touchdown pass


Oct 5, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) celebrates with tight end Julius Thomas (80) after throwing his 500th career touchdown during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos handled their business at home Sunday afternoon, defeating the then undefeated Arizona Cardinals, 41-20. Peyton Manning collected his 500th career touchdown pass while Demaryius Thomas had a career day receiving. Thomas passed Shannon Sharpe for most yards receiving in a single-game, collecting 226 yards.

41. 45. 20. 32. Final

The Arizona Cardinals did their part in keeping Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning off of the field early. Arizona started from their own 20 yard line, driving all the way down to into Denver’s territory at the 15 yard line. On 3rd and 15, Drew Stanton‘s pass to Michael Floyd was incomplete, forcing Arizona to settle with a field goal. Rookie Chandler Catanzaro nailed a 33-yarder, giving the Cards an early 3-0 lead which took nearly six minutes off of the clock.

Denver’s offense looked sharp on their first drive of the game, tallying 80 yards on 12 plays, chewing 4:26 off of the clock. Peyton Manning collected his 500th career touchdown pass, hitting tight-end Julius Thomas who promptly handed the ball to his quarterback shortly thereafter. Denver efficient drive put the team up 7-3 with 4:43 remaining in the first.

Denver’s defense couldn’t slow down the Drew Stanton led Cardinals offense early on as they drove 50 yards in 10 plays. Then again, Denver’s defense did bend but didn’t break. Catanzaro made his second field goal attempt, this time from 48-yards out to bring the Cardinals within one.

Early in the second quarter, Denver’s drive didn’t last long. Peyton Manning’s pass intended for Wes Welker floated as Cardinals defensive back Jerraud Powers picked it off. Luckily for Denver, Arizona drive didn’t last long. On 3rd and 9, Von Miller got a big jump off the edge, bringing down Stanton for the sack — forcing Arizona to punt. 38 sacks in 40 games isn’t too shabby, Mr. Miller.

Probably the play of the day happened midway though the second quarter. Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders made an acrobatic, diving catch to secure the first down, then scampered to the end zone. However, Sanders was ruled down once Patrick Peterson touched him; overruling the touchdown.

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Denver capitalized on that drive, however. Peyton Manning linked up with Demaryius Thomas on the slant route as DT did the rest — 31 yards for the touchdown. Brandon McManus‘s extra point made it 14-6 Denver with 7:30 remaining in the second quarter.

Arizona’s defense bounce back in a huge way on Denver’s next possession. As Peyton Manning tried setting up a screen pass, Calais Campbell read it correctly, nearly recording a pick six. Arizona scored on their first play with Andre Ellington running five yards to bring the Cardinals within one, 14-13 Denver.

While Denver’s run game struggled to get anything going, Peyton Manning and the passing game helped give Denver a cushion before half. On Denver’s first play from their own 14-yard line, Manning hit Thomas on a deep ball, letting DT go the rest. All it took was one play to go 86 yards in 11 seconds — Denver leading Arizona 21-13 at the half.

Both defenses held each team scoreless right away in the second half. Shortly thereafter, Denver’s kicker Brandon McManus had his first big test all season; previously 3-for-3 throughout Denver’s first three games. McManus, in fact, did rise to the occasion, knocking down a 44-yard field goal to give Denver the 24-13 lead.

With Drew Stanton out due to a concussion, rookie Logan Thomas stepped in for the Cardinals. Denver’s defense took advantage of the rookie during his first series, sacking him twice (DeMarcus Ware & split-sack from Von Miller, Malik Jackson).

On 4th and 1 with a little under 3:30 remaining in the third quarter, Denver elected to punt. On a bizarre play in which Arizona’s punt returner waived for a fair-catch, the ball bounced right at Ted Ginn. Jr as a pile ensued. Luckily for Arizona, they did indeed recover. It worked out because on the next play, Thomas hit Andre Ellington on a wheel-route, 81-yards for the touchdown. Bad defense demonstrated there from the Broncos defense. Denver still led however, 24-20.

Denver put together an impressive drive following the Cardinals touchdown, but resulted in just three points. Broncos fans held their breathe as Brandon McManus’s attempt went off of the pole and in. Denver took the 27-20 lead on McManus’s 41-yard field goal.

Denver’s defense held its own again, forcing Arizona to punt. This time, Denver’s offense struck for seven points. Peyton Manning connected with Julius Thomas in the back of the end-zone, giving Denver the 34-20 lead with 7:49 remaining in the game.

The Cardinals defense was reeling, Denver took advantage of them late. Juwan Thompson captured his first career rushing touchdown on an eight-yard scamper, pushing Denver’s lead to 20.

Notable Stats:

  • Peyton Manning: 503 TD passes with 4 TD’s today.
  • Wes Welker: Passes Rod Smith for most receptions from an undrafted free-agent.
  • Demaryius Thomas: Career-high & single-game franchise record 226 yards receiving.
  • Juwan Thompson: First career rushing TD.

The Denver Broncos (3-1) return to action next week as they take on the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 PM EST, 11:00 PM MST.