Broncos remain perfect with big victory over Packers

By Dennis Georgatos, The Sports Xchange  |  Nov. 2, 2015 at 1:08 AM
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DENVER -- After plodding along for much of the season and having a stout defense carry the team, the Denver Broncos offense found its footing and roared to life.

Ronnie Hillman ran for two touchdowns and C.J. Anderson had another, and the Broncos used a bruising rushing attack and picked their spots passing to down Green Bay 29-10 Sunday night, remaining unbeaten and handing the Packers their first loss of the season.

With their running game clicking and helping to open up passing lanes, Peyton Manning threw for 340 yards. It was his 186th career regular-season win, tying Brett Favre for most victories by a starting quarterback in NFL history. Demaryius Thomas was his favorite target, with eight receptions for 168 yards, his team-record-tying 31st game with at least 100 yards receiving.

"Everybody on offense has been working hard to try to improve and play better and I thought we did that tonight," Manning said. "It proves when we do execute we are capable of making some big plays but you've got to do it every week."

The Broncos improved to 7-0 to start a season for just the second time in their history. They got off to a 13-0 start in 1998. Green Bay fell to 6-1, snapping an eight-game regular-season winning streak dating to last year.

"They took advantage of us in the run game and the pass game," Packers cornerback Casey Hayward said. "(Manning) had some turnovers in the previous games but he was still Manning. He commanded their offense tonight. They were coming off a bye, just like we were, and they were prepared."

Added Packers coach Mike McCarthy: "That was a humbling loss. I haven't had my butt kicked like that in a long time."

Denver's defense frustrated the Packers' high-powered offense, limiting Aaron Rodgers to 77 yards on 14 of 22 passing. He was sacked by DeMarcus Ware and fumbled early in the fourth quarter and in the scramble for the ball, it rolled into the end zone, where it was recovered by tight end Richard Rodgers for a safety.

The Packers played much of the game without two of their top cornerbacks. Sam Shields was lost to a shoulder injury in the first quarter and his backup, Quinten Rollins, was knocked out with a shoulder injury as well during the second quarter.

Trailing 17-7 at the half, Green Bay (6-1) pulled to within a touchdown on Mason Crosby's 56-yard field goal with 9:07 left in the third quarter.

But Denver regained separation behind their resurgent running game, which scored more rushing touchdowns against the Packers than it had in the previous six games (two). Anderson burst through a hole in the middle of the line and accelerated into the clear en route to a 28-yard touchdown and a 24-10 lead.

"We went out there wanting to make a statement," Broncos tight end Virgil Green said. "I feel like towards the end, we just had them. We were manhandling them and I felt good about our execution."

Brandon McManus kicked his second field goal for the Broncos, a 24-yarder, with 12:25 remaining.

Denver bolted to a 17-0 lead -- its biggest in a game this season -- before a penalty-aided Packers drive culminated in running back Eddie Lacy's 2-yard touchdown run with 2:58 remaining in the second quarter to pull Green Bay to within 10 at the half.

The Packers benefited from two defensive penalties during the 80-yard scoring drive, including a roughing-the-passer call against blitzing safety David Bruton Jr., who leveled Rodgers an instant after he released a pass.

Key completions by Manning helped set up Hillman's second scoring run. His 47-yard pass to Thomas set up a 15-yard scoring run by Hillman early in the second quarter and Thomas' 30-yard catch preceded Hillman's first TD run, covering 1 yard in the first quarter.

McManus kicked a 50-yard field goal midway through the second quarter.

NOTES: Green Bay went without a sack for the first time in 43 regular-season games, snapping a team record and what was the longest active streak in the NFL. ... The Packers defense had not given up more than 13 first-half points this season before being tagged for 17 against Denver. ... Denver has yet to give up any points to the opposition in the first quarter this season. ... The teams each entered with 6-0 records, marking just the fourth time in NFL history two unbeaten teams had met this late in a season. ... Pat Bowlen, whose Broncos have gone to the Super Bowl five times and won two titles in his 32 years of ownership, was inducted into the team's Ring of Fame during halftime ceremonies. More than 40 members of the Broncos' first Super Bowl winning team in 1997, along with Bowlen's family, were on hand in a show of support for Bowlen, who is battling Alzheimer's disease and was not in attendance.

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