The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

September 24, 2013

Manning's 3 TDs helps Broncos beat Raiders 37-21

— DENVER (AP) — Peyton Manning slapped his hands together five, six, seven times and barked out the signals. A few seconds later, Wes Welker was all alone, cradling the quarterback's latest touchdown pass.

All part of another impeccably crafted victory for Manning and the Denver Broncos, who rolled over the Oakland Raiders 37-21 Monday night. Denver's 127 points lead the league and are 31 more than second-place Green Bay.

It was Denver's 14th straight regular-season win, tying the franchise record set in 1998 when the Broncos won their second Super Bowl.

Manning went 32 for 37 for 374 yards and put his name in the record books a few more times while outwitting the overmatched Raiders (1-2).

"You see flashes of good things," Manning said. "When we're executing and not making mistakes, we can go the distance. We can go 80 yards, take advantage of a short field."

Manning's 12 touchdown passes are one more than Tom Brady's old record for the first three games, set in 2011. Manning still has yet to throw an interception, which matches a record held by Michael Vick, who also threw 12 touchdowns before his first pick in 2010.

"We get to play with one of the greatest quarterbacks and football players to ever play the game," said tight end Julius Thomas, who caught one of the touchdowns. "He's great. There's no other way to cut it up or slice it."

As much as the numbers, it was Manning's deciphering of the Oakland defense that made jaws drop in this one.

His first touchdown, a 2-yard pass to Eric Decker (eight catches, 133 yards), came after a subtle play-action fake that froze the defense and left Decker uncovered in the back of the end zone.

Manning's targets for the next two touchdowns — Welker and Thomas — didn't have defenders within three steps of them when they caught the passes. Wide open. A sure sign that Manning had diagnosed the defense he was looking at well before the snap and knew exactly where he wanted to go with the ball.

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