And the Denver Broncos thrashed the San Francisco 49ers 42-17 on Sunday Night Football.
Manning didn’t disappoint the national television audience, marching Denver down the field in their opening drive and finding his receiver to come within one touchdown of the all-time record. He promptly tied it on his next possession, finding Wes Welker who dove superman-style into the pylon for the score. Manning and Brett Favre had each thrown 508 touchdowns.
The Broncos defense gave us a classic Jim Harbaugh performance. His jaw was in full strain early on. Then his receiver dropped an easy touchdown on third and goal from the four, forcing a field goal. His kicker had also missed a 50-yarder in-between Peyton touchdowns. Harbaugh later relented and rocked the glasses – even Jim can’t fight #18.
The momentum seemed to sway Denver’s way on Manning’s night. He led another drive quickly down the field, picking the 49ers defense apart. He sacked himself on second and goal to setup for a proper record-breaker. From the eight, he found Demaryius Thomas in the edge of the endzone for a 21-3 lead.
The game would have been over. At home, Denver’s coach over-complicated it, calling a timeout when San Francisco had none under the two-minute warning. The clock stopped and so did our momentum, allowing a crazy completion on third down. They marched all the way down the field for their first touchdown with 11 seconds left.
I was devastated at halftime. The record was fine and dandy and will play on SportsCenter over and over, but our season and this game were still in progress. John Fox better wake the fuck up and realize how goddamn lucky he is to be apart of this. The record is mostly impressive because he’s thrown over 100 touchdowns since his neck broke, he was released by the only team he ever played for, and could barely throw a ball ten yards. I digress.
Manning eviscerated the 49ers some more in the second half. Colin Poopernick threw a pick on his first drive, and Manning went for the jugular on the next play, passing forty yards to Thomas for the score.
It took the Broncos three plays on their next possession to score again. After a 49-yard strike to Thomas, Ronnie Hillman ran 37 yards into the endzone. It was mostly Hillman for the rest of the quarter as Manning ate up the clock. He would lead Denver to a 42-10 lead before Fox pulled him for the final quarter. Manning was a little pissed, but in hindsight, it allowed him to really soak everything in.
I could see his face slowly lighting up on the sideline. He looked like he did in his early Indy days, his normally focused face at peace. I’ve known him for a long time, and I couldn’t be more proud.