DENVER, COLO. – The Green Bay Packers suffered their first defeat of the season to the Denver Broncos, 29-10, on Sunday night. The Denver defense held quarterback Aaron Rodgers to only 77 passing yards. The Packers are now 6-1.
Going into the game, the Packers biggest challenge was Denver’s first place defense, which has terrorized quarterbacks, blanketed receivers, forced turnovers, and, according to many analysts, has carried the Broncos team to an undefeated record, especially considering quarterback Peyton Manning and the offense have been surprisingly under-performing all season.
After both teams ended their first drives of the game with punts, Manning and running back Ronnie Hillman got things going for the Broncos’ offense. Manning got the offense into the shadow of the Packers’ end zone after a 30-yard pass to receiver Demaryius Thomas, and Hillman capped off the drive with a one yard touchdown run to take the 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing drive the Packers managed to get a first down but Rodgers was feeling the heat of the Broncos’ pass rush and the Packers were forced to punt. Manning connected with tight ends Virgil Green and Owen Daniels for 19- and 16-yard passes, respectively, to close out the first quarter. At the beginning of the second Manning threw a 47-yard bomb to Thomas to again get the Broncos in the shadow of the Packers’ end zone. Hillman again capped off the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run to take a 14-0 lead for the Broncos.
The Packers again were forced to punt after going three and out giving the ball back to the Broncos. Manning again took advantage of the injured Packers’ secondary which saw cornerbacks Sam Shields and Quinten Rollins both leave the game with injuries, and connected with Daniels for an 18 yard pass. Running back C.J. Anderson also saw some touches and exploded for a 19 yard run to put the Broncos in field goal range. The Broncos could not get a first down and they were forced to settle on a 50-yard field goal by kicker Brandon McManus to take the 17-0 lead.
The ensuing drive finally saw some progression by the Packers as it opened with Rodgers breaking a 14-yard run. A penalty saved this drive as a roughing the passer call got a first down for the Packers on third down. After a 15-yard run by Lacy got the Packers to the Broncos’ goal line, Lacy punched it in from two yards out to cut the Packers’ deficit to 17-7.
With three minutes left in the half the Broncos offense attempted a scoring drive which saw them get in field goal range. They couldn’t maintain it after two 10 yard penalties pushed them out of range, but the Packers elected to not stop the clock so the half ended with a 17-7 Broncos lead.
The second half opened with the Packers’ offense and again a penalty saved the drive after a defensive pass interference was called on the Broncos on third down. Rodgers would get the Packers in field goal range after running for 17 yards, but a holding penalty forced them to settle on a 56-yard Mason Crosby field goal which cut the deficit to seven.
On the ensuing Broncos drive, Manning was firing on all cylinders, connecting for a 20-yard pass to Thomas and a 24 yard pass to receiver Andre Caldwell. The Packers’ defense broke down even more as Anderson broke a 28-yard touchdown run to give the Broncos a 24-10 lead.
The next Packers drive saw more ball movement after receiver Randall Cobb caught a 17-yard pass, but Rodgers was sacked for eight yards by defensive end Antonio Smith to force a punt. Manning would continue to go off, hitting Thomas with a 24-yard pass and then Green with a 32 yard pass to get into field goal range. The Broncos couldn’t capitalize and was forced to settle for another McManus field goal to take a 27-10 lead.
Veteran defensive end DeMarcus Ware made his presence known on the next drive when he stripped Rodgers near the Packers’ end zone and tight end Richard Rodgers recovered the ball in the end zone but got tackled, for the safety to give the Broncos a 29-10 lead. Following the safety punt, Manning would throw an interception to rookie cornerback Damarious Randall, but the Packers couldn’t capitalize, as they would turn over the ball themselves after receiver James Jones fumbled. The Broncos would then run the remainder of the clock out and secure the victory.
Even though he didn’t pass for a single touchdown, Manning looked to be back in prime shape passing for 340 yards and this victory tied former Packers’ quarterback Brett Favre’s record for career wins. Rodgers, on the other hand, had the worst statistical game of his career even though he didn’t throw an interception. In the post-game interview Mike McCarthy stated that the team was humbled by the loss finally showing mortality in the Packers.
Next week the Packers look to rebound as they go to Charlotte to face Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. The Broncos look to remain undefeated as they travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts, Manning’s former team.
Other NFL scores:
Quarterback Tom Brady threw for 356 yards and three scores to help the New England Patriots romp the Miami Dolphins, 36-7.
The upstart Oakland Raiders got 333 passing yards and four touchdown passes from quarterback Derek Carr en route to a 34-20 victory over the New York Jets.
Kicker Blair Walsh nailed three field goals and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw a late touchdown pass to lift the Minnesota Vikings to a 23-20 victory over the Chicago Bears.
In a battle of the quarterbacks, New Orleans Saints’ signal-caller Drew Brees outdueled the New York Giants Eli Manning, as the former threw seven touchdown passes to the latter’s six in a 52-49 victory. Brees also finished with 511 yards through the air.
The Seattle Seahawks won a tight, defensive battle with the Dallas Cowboys, 13-12, thanks to a late field goal from kicker Steven Hauschka. Quarterback Russell Wilson threw for 210 yards and one score for the Seahawks.
Quarterback Alex Smith threw for two scores and ran for one more as part of four rushing touchdowns for the Kansas City Chiefs in a 45-10 blowout of the Detroit Lions in London.
Rookie quarterback Jameis Winston had a rushing and a passing touchdown, and kicker Connor Barth made three field goals, including a game-winner in overtime, to help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers escape their division rival Atlanta Falcons, 23-20.
In a battle of hard-luck teams, the Baltimore Ravens edged the San Diego Chargers on a game-winning field goal from kicker Justin Tucker, 29-26. Tucker finished with five field goals. Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 301 yards and three scores in the loss.
The Cleveland Browns jumped out to a 20-7 lead over the Arizona Cardinals, but Cardinals’ quarterback Carson Palmer, who finished with four touchdowns passes, threw three to begin the second half to rally his team to a 34-20 victory.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns to help the Houston Texans escape a defensive battle with the Tennessee Titans, 20-6.
Kicker Mike Nugent hit three field goals and quarterback Andy Dalton threw a late touchdown pass to lift the Cincinnati Bengals to a 16-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw an early touchdown pass in his first game back from injury.
Rookie running back Todd Gurley continues to shine for the St. Louis Rams, rushing for 133 yards and a touchdown. Receiver/return specialist Tavon Austin rushed for a score and caught one to aid Gurley in defeating the San Francisco 49ers, 27-6.
After surrendering a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter, Carolina Panthers’ kicker Graham Gano hit a 53-yard field goal to lift his team over the Indianapolis Colts in overtime, 26-23, after linebacker Luke Kuechly intercepted Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck on the previous possession. Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton finished with 248 passing yards and 41 rushing yards, with two scoring tosses. Luck threw for 231 yards and two scores, but also three interceptions.