Peyton Manning has suffered some disappointing losses in New England before. This time he was wearing a different uniform.
Manning, who in his time as quarterback of the Colts had some big wins but more big losses against the Patriots, faced New England for the first time as the quarterback of the Broncos, and the result was a loss.
The loss wasn’t the fault of Manning, who completed 31 of 44 passes for 345 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. But Manning didn’t get a lot of help from the Broncos’ defense, which simply couldn’t stop New England’s offense, or from Broncos running back Willis McGahee, who dropped a perfect pass from Manning on a fourth-and-1, and later fumbled away the Broncos’ final chance at a come-from-behind victory.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was methodical, completing 23 of 31 passes for 223 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions, but the real story of the day was the inability of the Broncos’ defense to stop the Patriots’ running game. New England running back Stevan Ridley had 28 carries for 151 yards, Brandon Bolden had 14 carries for 54 yards, Danny Woodhead had seven carries for 47 yards (including a stunning 19-yard run on third-and-17) and Shane Vereen only got the ball once, but it was a one-yard touchdown.
Seeing Manning and Brady on the field together is always a pleasure, and both played well again today. Considering that they’re the two oldest starting quarterbacks in the NFL, we’re probably running out of opportunities to see them face off. Maybe they’ll do it again in the playoffs.