In Week 1, the Broncos didn't have a rushing attempt that went for more than 9 yards. On Sunday in Manning Bowl III, Knowshon Moreno, who was buried on the depth chart as recently as last season, not only had two carries of 20-plus yards, he scored both times. The last one, a 25-yard scamper around the right side set up by superb blocks from Virgil Green and Eric Decker, gave the Broncos a 24-16 lead over the Giant with 25 seconds left in the third quarter.
Two plays later, Denver's defense forced Eli Manning into his second interception on the day and that, as they say, was that. Peyton Manning went to work from the Giants' 36. Five plays after that, the elder Manning found tight end Julius Thomas for another touchdown, his second of the afternoon.
While it may not have seemed like it, this game was over after three quarters. With 12:19 left and trailing by 15, the Giants' win probability was 1.3 percent. By 10:13, following Trindon Holliday's 81-yard punt return, it had dropped to 0.9 percent.
Thanks for coming, tip your waitresses and remember to try to the meatloaf.
When it was over, the Broncos had cruised to a 41-23 and the Giants were left with more questions in a season that couldn't have gotten off to a worse start.
We'll be honest: We thought New York had a chance. Yes, Eli is 0-2 vs. his brother, and yes, the Giants had six turnovers in an embarrassing performance against the Cowboys in Week 1. But Eli also has two Super Bowl rings, knows something about winning amid adversity, and we thought that New York's front four could get after Peyton much like they got after Tom Brady in the two Super Bowl matchups.
Obviously, none of that happened.
At the moment, Peyton Manning leads the NFL in TD passes and Eli Manning leads the NFL in interceptions— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 15, 2013
So taking the long view, what does it all mean? Not much for the Broncos, now 2-0 and still a month away from getting Von Miller back from suspension. They're tied atop the AFC West with the upstart Chiefs, but there's no reason to think that four months from now, they won't have their third straight division title wrapped up. Peyton looks as sharp as he did at any point during his days in Indianapolis, and he has more playmakers than he knows what to do with. If the running game comes on, god help the rest of the AFC.
The Giants, meanwhile, have issues. Yes, Week 2 games are seldom of the "must-win" variety because, well, it's Week 2. But it's hard to overlook this stat:
• Since 1990, fewer than 12 percent of teams to start 0-2 made the playoffs;
• In the past three seasons, no 0-2 team made the playoffs.
Also worth remembering: The Giants were 0-2 in 2007, got hot late and ended up hoisting the Lombardi Trophy after an improbable victory over the then-undefeated Patriots. But, really, you don't go into training camp making Super Bowl plans that include two straight losses to begin the season and wrapping things up by outlasting an 18-0 juggernaut.
Put another way: The Giants are in trouble. The good news is that they play in the NFC East, one of the most volatile divisions in the NFL. But even though they're one game back of the Cowboys and Eagles, New York still has to win. The best chance comes next Sunday when the Giants travel to Charlotte to face the Panthers.
Is that a must-win game? Technically, no, but that won't mean much if the Giants head back to New York 0-3.
From around the tubes
In the first half, before the Broncos started lighting up the scoreboard, our buddy Michael David Smith tweeted this:
Not much offense in Giants-Broncos. Eli and Peyton need to go to the Manziel Passing Academy to see how it's done.— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) September 15, 2013
Under Peyton, the Broncos have been masterful in their first possessions to start the second half of games:
Broncos last year ranked 2nd in the NFL in points scored on 1st possession of 2nd half (52 pts, 7 pass TDs and 1 FG).— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) September 15, 2013
Right on cue, Manning led a nine-play, 53-yard drive to give the Broncos a 17-9 lead.
Broncos have now outscored their opponents by 193 points in the 2nd half of their last 18 reg-season games dating back to last year.— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) September 15, 2013
After Moreno's second touchdown run:
K.Moreno with another 20+yd rush TD. 8th time in club history player has multiple 20+yd rush TDs in game. 1st since McGahee at Oak 11/6/11.— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) September 15, 2013
Silver lining: The Giants responded with a third-quarter touchdown drive of their own, cutting the lead to 17-16. Dark cloud: It was a gift from the Broncos' defense.
Giants first TD comes on 81-yard drive greatly aided by four Broncos penalties for 36 yards. $nyg— Paul Schwartz (@NYPost_Schwartz) September 15, 2013
Other fun facts:
Head-to-head heading into Manning Bowl III
Peyton: 45 of 67, 531 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT, 2 wins
Eli: 33 of 58, 408 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INT, 0 wins
Peyton: 75 of 110, 838 yards, 6 TDs, 1 INT, 3 wins
Eli: 61 of 107, 770 yards, 5 TDs, 6 INT, 0 wins
Turns out, we can all just get along
Midway through the first half, CBS flashed this graphic:
"Peyton Manning is better at golf, baseball and darts."
"Eli Manning is better at basketball, ping-pong, billiards, bowling, running."
We can add "football" to Peyton's list. And in the spirit of fairness, we'll give Eli "rhyming and twerking."
Which reminds us...