The Houston Texans came to play Sunday. They showed up and gained confidence as the game went on, giving the Denver Broncos one heck of a challenge. While Denver jumped out to the 16-6 lead at the half, Houston caught fire out of the locker room. Then, when things seemed to be going the wrong way, Mike Adams jumped in front of a Matt Schaub pass and picked it off. The Broncos quickly scored a touchdown and boosted their lead to 23-13 early in the fourth. The Broncos poured it on as Manning tossed two more touchdowns for the 37-13 win.
MVP – Peyton Manning
Manning was once again magnificent Sunday. In the first half, he threw for 296 yards and one deep touchdown to Demaryius Thomas. In the fourth quarter, his TD to Eric Decker tied a personal-best of 49 in a season and widened Denver’s lead to 10. Manning threw two more touchdowns – another to Decker and then one to Julius Thomas – giving him 51 touchdowns on the season, a new NFL record. On the day he had 400 yards and four TDs, amazing.
LVP – Offensive line
Through the first half of the game, the Broncos had racked up seven penalties and many of them were on the offensive line. Late in the second quarter, Denver had a first and goal at the four yard line and couldn’t score a touchdown. Orlando Franklin was called for three holding penalties, and they had to settle for a field goal. On that same drive, Manning was hit hard twice – once by J.J. Watt and another by a backup linebacker – which is never what the Broncos want to see. In the third quarter, there was an illegal hands to the face penalty against Chris Clark as J.J. Watt dominated him off the snap. A few plays later, Watt rocked Manning and forced a punt.
X-Factor – Mike Adams
His athletic interception of Schaub on a comeback route to start the fourth quarter set the table for the Broncos’ big touchdown. Later in that quarter, his pressure nearly sacked Schaub and almost forced a second interception. On the day, he racked up a game-high nine tackles.
Key Stat – 51 touchdowns
51 touchdowns passing in a single season for Manning with his four on the day, just extraordinary.
Tweet of the Game
In every loss, Denver’s offense has had long stretches of doing nothing. Seeing it again today. #Broncos
— James Merilatt (@jamesmerilatt) December 22, 2013
While the Broncos won the game, they went through a stretch in the third quarter of three straight three-and-outs, as James Merilatt astutely notes here. It gave the Texans life and confidence; Houston then made it a game. This contest was close through three quarters, which is a bit weird after looking at the final score and stats.
What This Win Means
The win, coupled with the Kansas City Chiefs’ loss, clinched the AFC West for the Denver Broncos. They improved to 12-3, needing only one more win to clinch the AFC’s No. 1 seed.
Broncos at Raiders
December 29, 2013
At O.co Coluseum, Oakland, California
Like this? Click here for more Denver Broncos news!