Final

Saints 14

(2-5, 1-3 away)

Broncos 34

(4-3, 3-1 home)

Coverage: NBC

8:20 PM ET, October 28, 2012

Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, CO 

1 2 3 4 T
NO 0 7 0 714
DEN 7 10 7 1034

Top Performers

Passing: P. Manning (DEN) - 305 YDS, 3 TD

Rushing: W. McGahee (DEN) - 23 CAR, 122 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: D. Thomas (DEN) - 7 REC, 137 YDS, 1 TD

Peyton Manning throws 3 TDs as Broncos blister Saints

Associated Press

DENVER -- The dinged-up thumb. The New Orleans defense.

Neither came close to slowing down Peyton Manning on Sunday night.

Despite banging his throwing thumb on an opponent's helmet in the second quarter, Manning passed for 305 yards and three scores, led a pair of 90-plus-yard touchdown drives and easily outplayed Drew Brees to lead the Denver Broncos to a 34-14 victory over the Saints.

Manning surpassed the 300-yard mark for the fifth straight time to match his personal best and set a franchise record for Denver (4-3). He completed 22 of 30 throws for a passer rating of 138.9. Willis McGahee ran for 122 yards and a score for the Broncos, who won two in a row for the first time this season and took sole possession of first place in the AFC West.

"It's fine," Manning said about his thumb. "As a quarterback, your biggest fear is hitting your hand on the helmet of a defensive lineman. It's mostly the nail. Might be sore tomorrow."

The Broncos gained 530 yards -- a season high -- against the NFL's worst defense. The Saints are the first team to allow 400 yards in seven straight games since 1950, which is as far back as STATS LLC can search its NFL database.

Coming in on a two-game winning streak of its own, New Orleans (2-5) was hoping to get a boost from the return of linebackers-turned-interim head coach Joe Vitt from his six-game suspension for the team's bounty scandal. All he can do is stand on the sidelines, though, and linebacker Jonathan Vilma -- another Saint implicated in the scandal -- returned to the starting lineup, but he couldn't plug the holes, either.

"I've got to do a better job of preparing our football team," Vitt said. "I've got to do a better job of getting the team ready physically, mentally and emotionally to play in a game like this. And quite frankly, there's things I need to do better."

The Broncos held Brees and the league's top passing offense to 213 yards and two scores, the second marking the first points Denver has allowed in the fourth quarter since opening week.

Brees extended his record to 50 straight games with at least one touchdown pass. He also reached 301 career touchdown passes to climb past John Elway for sixth on the career list.

Small consolation on a night in which the Broncos' defense looked almost as good as the offense.

"That was a very poor performance on our part," Brees said. "We were not able to sustain drives and we left our defense out there entirely too long. That was just very stale."

The Saints converted only 1 of 12 third downs.

"This football team has been through a lot," Vitt said. "But it's not an excuse for the way we played tonight. It's not an excuse for dropped balls, missed tackles."

Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard did extensive damage, finishing with 13 tackles, two pass breakups, one sack, one forced fumble and one interception, when Vitt chose to go for it on fourth-and-2 from the Denver 47 early in the second quarter with the game tied at 7.

"They told me before the game they would keep me free to make plays," Woodyard said.

Manning capitalized on Woodyard's pick by leading Denver on a 56-yard drive for the go-ahead touchdown, capped on a 13-yard pass to Eric Decker, who was all alone when Jabari Greer slipped. Decker celebrated by spiking the ball a good 10 rows into the stands.

A bit later, Manning followed through into a New Orleans player's helmet while completing a 23-yard pass to Decker, leaving a trace of blood across the quarterback's thumb. Manning handed off the next four plays and the Broncos settled for a field goal before halftime. But when Manning returned for the third quarter, he warmed up with no trouble and showed no signs of injury.

He then answered any questions by going 4 for 4 to start the third quarter, moving the Broncos 93 yards and capping it with a 1-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas for a 24-7 lead.

"I was really nervous at first but then I realized what a tough guy he is," Broncos receiver Brandon Stokley said about Manning's injury.

Thomas finished with seven catches for 137 yards. Decker also caught a 2-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter for a 31-7 lead. He finished with 43 yards receiving.

Denver's first scoring drive opened at the 2 and began with four straight runs by McGahee for gains of 4, 12, 7 and 3. That set up play action and Manning hit Thomas for 41 yards. Five plays later, Manning dropped back, peaked through the crowded line and somehow picked out McGahee among all the big men clogging things up. That little flip screen was good for 14 yards and set up McGahee's 1-yard touchdown run to open the scoring.

After getting through the toughest part of their schedule and reaching the bye week at 3-3, the Broncos have only one opponent on the rest of the schedule that currently has a winning record (Baltimore). Too early to call them front-runners, though they certainly played like it against one of the league's most beleaguered teams.

"I'm sure the coaches will find some mistakes on the film," Manning said. "But it was what we were looking for."

Game notes


The Broncos lost a fumble in their 12th straight game, the longest streak in the NFL since the Cardinals lost 18 straight in 1996-97. ... Saints S Roman Harper left in the third quarter with a concussion. ... Manning threw for 300 yards, three touchdowns and completed 70 percent of his passes for a record fourth straight game. ... The lead blocker on McGahee's 1-yard touchdown was DT Mitch Unrein. ... The Saints fell to 2-8 lifetime against the Broncos.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
NO
DEN
1st Downs1429
Passing 1st downs
1216
Rushing 1st downs
211
1st downs from Penalties
02
3rd down efficiency
1-125-13
4th down efficiency
2-30-0
Total Plays6071
Total Yards252530
Yards per play4.27.5
Total Drives1213
Passing201305
Comp - Att
22-4222-30
Yards per pass
4.810.2
Interceptions thrown
10
Sacks - Yards Lost
1-120-0
Rushing51225
Rushing Attempts
1741
Yards per rush
3.05.5
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-14-6
Penalties3-155-34
Turnovers11
Fumbles lost
01
Interceptions thrown
10
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession24:4635:14

Passing Leaders

NOC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Brees22/422135.1211-12
DENC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Manning22/3030510.2300-0

Rushing Leaders

NOCARYDSAVGTDLG
Thomas8435.408
Ingram372.304
DENCARYDSAVGTDLG
McGahee231225.3117
Hillman14866.1031

Receiving Leaders

NORECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Graham56312.612010
Colston56312.601610
DENRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Thomas713719.61419
Green34414.70283

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERNODEN
denTD04:39Willis McGahee 1 Yd Run (Matt Prater Kick) 07
SECOND QUARTERNODEN
noTD14:53Darren Sproles 29 Yd Pass From Drew Brees (Garrett Hartley Kick) 77
denTD06:43Eric Decker 13 Yd Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick) 714
denFG00:00Matt Prater 33 Yd 717
THIRD QUARTERNODEN
denTD09:30Demaryius Thomas 1 Yd Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick) 724
FOURTH QUARTERNODEN
denTD14:54Eric Decker 2 Yd Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick) 731
denFG05:27Matt Prater 33 Yd 734
noTD02:03Jimmy Graham 18 Yd Pass From Drew Brees (Garrett Hartley Kick) 1434

Research Notes

Demaryius Thomas: 6th career game with at least 100 receiving yards; 3rd time in last 4 games that he's had 100+ receiving yards

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