Broncos blow out Panthers

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Denver Broncos coach John Fox had the right idea when he wanted to deflect attention upon returning to Bank of America Stadium to face his former employer.
He brought along Peyton Manning and a stifling defense.
In another efficient performance, Manning and the Broncos overwhelmed the Carolina Panthers in a 36-14 outcome Sunday afternoon.
Fox, who was coach of the Panthers for nine seasons (2002-10), saw his Broncos increase their winning streak to four games.
"Coach Fox was all business during the week," Manning said. "To win this game for (him and other staff members who had been here) was something we wanted to do."
The Panthers (2-7) have lost their last four home games.
Manning was 27 for 38 for 301 yards through the air. He completed 16 of his first 17 passes.
His Carolina counterpart endured another rough day. Cam Newton was sacked seven times, with the final one resulting in a fourth-quarter safety.
Until a fourth-quarter drive when he connected on six of seven throws, Newton had completed 12 of 24 passes for 160 yards, with one of his errant tosses returned for a touchdown. He was intercepted twice in the game.
Fox, who turned 57 years old three days earlier, returned to the city where he still has a home, but he was a bit unfamiliar with the stadium accommodations.
"It's strange," he said. "I've never been in this visitors' locker room prior to even coming here as a head coach. ... But it was great getting back. I have a home here that we had in our tenure here so it was nice to get home and sleep in my bed."
He should sleep good again after the Broncos' performance. He ended up with the game ball as well.
Denver receiver Demaryius Thomas caught 11 passes for 135 yards, including a 46-yard grab to set up the last touchdown. That play was the longest from scrimmage for either team.
The Broncos (6-3) went ahead on the first play of the second quarter on Trindon Holliday's 76-yard punt return, breaking a 7-7 tie.
"With an explosive play in the game, it changes the momentum at that point," Fox said.
Denver's offense went almost 43 minutes between touchdowns, yet the lead kept growing.
"I'm in favor of anytime anybody on the team wants to score a touchdown, I'm for it," Manning said.
Matt Prater's 53-yard field goal made it 17-7, but he missed from 43 yards out with less than 2 minutes to play in the first half. The impact was minimized when Panthers kicker Justin Medlock missed from 43 yards away with 40 seconds left before halftime.
Turnovers on back-to-back plays in the third quarter resulted in a Denver touchdown when cornerback Tony Carter returned Newton's pass 40 yards after an interception. On the previous play, Carolina defensive end Charles Johnson stripped Manning, causing a fumble.
"I challenge myself to be better," Newton said. "Offensively, we have to hone in and be more focused. ... There will be better days for the Carolina Panthers."
Two of the Denver sacks were credited to defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson. The pressure on Newton made for stress-free moments in the Broncos secondary.
"They did what I expected," cornerback Champ Bailey said of the defensive front. "It doesn't surprise me. I know how hungry they are to get to the quarterback."
Considering that Denver's defense and special teams accounted for 16 points, the Panthers were relatively pleased with their defensive performance.
"We want those guys to believe in the offense," said offensive tackle Jordan Gross. "Right now, we're not doing it."
Prater's 27-yard field goal with 14:17 remaining extended the Broncos' lead to 27-7.
Manning's 10-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley gave Denver its first points. It was the 420th career touchdown pass for Manning, matching him with Dan Marino for second-most in NFL history behind only Brett Favre.
"Dan Marino, after my dad retired, was my favorite quarterback growing up," Manning said.
The Panthers opened the scoring when Newton connected with tight end Greg Olsen on a 4-yard touchdown pass on the team's second possession. It was Olsen's third reception (for 46 yards) on the six-play, 77-yard drive.
Olsen, who finished with 10 catches for 102 yards, caught a 5-yard fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Newton. That drive also covered 77 yards, though it took 10 plays.
The Broncos sealed the outcome on rookie running back Ronnie Hillman's first career touchdown. It came on a 5-yard run with 3:23 remaining.
Notes: Broncos LB Von Miller followed through on a game-week wish by going with a "Superman" pose upon sacking Newton. Newton has made the "Superman" routine popular upon scoring touchdowns. Newton was the No. 1 overall draft selection in 2011 and Miller was No. 2 overall. ... Broncos DE Elvis Dumervil suffered a shoulder injury that will be evaluated, with Fox calling that the only significant ailment from the game after initial reports. ... CB Chris Harris was in the Broncos starting lineup in place of CB Tracy Porter. ... The Panthers were in monochromatic black uniforms, donning black pants and black jerseys for the first time in franchise history. ... Carolina has lost the coin toss in its first nine games. ... Punters had a noteworthy day, with Broncos P Britton Colquitt's first-quarter boots going 60 and 52 yards and a 57-yard effort in the fourth quarter. Panthers P Brad Nortman provided a 57-yarder in the first quarter, then launched a 59-yarder on the first play of the second quarter, with Holliday making the touchdown return. ... It was only Denver's second visit to Charlotte all-time, and the Broncos have won three of four meetings overall.

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