Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos are undefeated, even though they haven't exactly wowed anybody offensively.
That could be a very good sign for the five-time MVP and his team.
"We've beaten three playoff teams, right? Two of them on the road," Manning said. "Knew we were playing a team who was going to come out with everything they had tonight."
Manning threw for 324 yards and two touchdowns Sunday night, and the Broncos beat the Detroit Lions 24-12. The winless Lions never led in the game, and now they have their work cut out for them if they want to make the playoffs for a second straight season.
Manning's postgame comment wasn't entirely accurate. Denver (3-0) has beaten Baltimore, Kansas City and Detroit, and only the Ravens and Lions made the postseason last year. Still, the Broncos are atop the AFC West, and with games against Minnesota, Oakland and Cleveland coming up, they have a chance to extend this impressive start for a while.
Denver led 7-6 when Manning decided to throw deep on fourth-and-1 near the end of the second quarter. Demaryius Thomas was able to come down with the ball and stay on his feet, strolling into the end zone with 5 seconds left in the half for a 45-yard touchdown.
Denver came into the game ranked last in the league in offense and second in defense. The Broncos forced three turnovers by Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford — two interceptions and a fumble.
"We've got 13 more football games starting next Monday night," Stafford said. "So we've just got to prepare to win and find ways to play a little bit better, a little bit cleaner."
The Lions (0-3) play at Seattle next Monday night.
Here are a few things we learned from Denver's victory Sunday:
This wasn't an ideal matchup for a Detroit team that struggled to keep its quarterback from being knocked around the previous weekend at Minnesota. Stafford was sacked four times against the Broncos, with DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller closing in on him on several occasions.
Manning's touch is impressive to behold. Three of his most important passes looked like they were essentially thrown up for grabs, but the Denver quarterback put the ball right where his receivers needed it. The touchdown pass to Thomas looked similar to another big play in the fourth quarter, when Manning lofted a 34-yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders along the right sideline.
That set up Denver's final touchdown, an 11-yard pass from Manning to Owen Daniels. Manning put the ball where only Daniels had a chance to catch it.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell said K Matt Prater had an undisclosed illness. Prater's lone extra-point try was blocked, and he didn't attempt any field goals.
INJURED RUNNING BACKS
Denver RB C.J. Anderson left in the first half after a crunching collision with Detroit's Darryl Tapp. Anderson passed a concussion test and returned, but backup RB Juwan Thompson left for good with a neck injury after a helmet-to-helmet collision near the Detroit goal line.
When a quarterback throws a pass that's even slightly off, the Broncos can take advantage. Both of Stafford's interceptions came on fine plays by Denver DBs. Bradley Roby made a diving play in the first quarter, and David Bruton Jr. tipped the ball to himself in the fourth to derail another Detroit drive.