Manning erratic, but Broncos win

Dennis Georgatos, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

DENVER -- For the first time this season, Peyton Manning turned in an erratic performance. It did not matter to the Denver Broncos, who overcame the glitches to remain unbeaten.
Knowshon Moreno ran for three touchdowns, Manning threw for two scores to help offset his three turnovers and the Broncos pulled away to beat the winless Jacksonville Jaguars 35-19 on Sunday.
"Some Sundays, you're sharper than others," said Manning, whose team was held to a season low in points. "The execution wasn't as sharp, I wasn't as sharp. There were some bad decisions on my part. But there were some good drives coming out in the second half.
"You score a lot of points, people take it for granted," added Manning. "But I learned long ago never to take winning for granted and we appreciate this win."
Manning started off well with first-quarter touchdown passes of 3 yards to Julius Thomas and 20 yards to Wes Welker to increase his season total to 22, the most through six games in NFL history. But then he hit a lull, throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown and fumbling twice.
The Broncos even got some boos from their fickle home crowd when they trotted off the field with a two-point halftime lead.
"We've got high expectations, too, so we understand that they have high expectations for us," Welker said. "We feel the same way. I'm sure there are a lot of us that want to boo ourselves. I almost appreciate it, kind of 'Get our butts in gear and get ready to play out there.'"
Moreno helped bail out the sluggish Broncos offense by getting the tough yards in the red zone. He finished with 42 yards and had touchdowns of 3, 8 and 5 yards, all in the second half, as Denver (6-0) extended its franchise-record winning streak to 17 regular-season games.
"Any way we had to get some points on the board, we were doing it," said Moreno, who graded the Broncos' performance as a "C."
"It was good enough today but it's not good enough to win games down the road," he said. "They played really hard all day and we made a lot of mistakes. There's still a lot that we have to fix."
Denver also got a boost from the return of 12-time Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey, who made his season debut after missing the first five games with a foot sprain suffered in a preseason game against Seattle.
But it was tougher against Jacksonville than the oddsmakers, who made Denver a 27-point favorite going into the game, thought it would be.
"It was progress, but it wasn't enough," Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. "We felt like we had an opportunity there in the first and second half to pull ahead. They made some good plays. Kudos to them. We have to continue to work and we'll see how things go next week."
Jacksonville tried hard for the upset from the get-go, starting with a fake punt on a fourth-and-4 from its own 26-yard line in the opening minutes of the game.
The Broncos stuffed fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou well short of the first down after he took the direct snap, giving Denver a short field for its first score.
Chad Henne, starting in place of injured Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert (hamstring), completed 27 of 42 passes for 303 yards. He was intercepted two times.
Justin Blackmon added 14 receptions for 190 yards for Jacksonville (0-6).
The Broncos got two third-quarter touchdown runs from Moreno around a scoring run by Jacksonville's Jones-Drew to make it 28-19.
Manning later fumbled a shotgun snap that was recovered by Jaguars cornerback Mike Harris, but Jacksonville failed to capitalize. Kayvon Webster intercepted a pass by Henne, and Manning guided the Broncos down the field, leading to Moreno's third touchdown run with 9:09 remaining in the fourth quarter.
"They made some adjustments, and they had a really good plan coming out in the second half," said Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny, who scored a touchdown after intercepting Manning. "With Peyton Manning, he is able to do things and change things at the line of scrimmage, so we weren't able to get the same type of pressure that we had in the first half."
Denver pulled out to a 14-0 lead as Manning finished the Broncos' opening possession with a short scoring pass to Thomas before hitting Welker for a 20-yard TD pass.
It was the 800th career reception by Welker, who became the 27th player in NFL history to reach the milestone.
Taking advantage of a fumbled snap by Manning, Jacksonville added a second field goal by Josh Scobee, a 30-yarder, to make it 14-6. Scobee also kicked a 50-yarder earlier.
In the second quarter after a botched hold on a Jaguars field-goal try, the Broncos took over on their 42, but Manning underthrew a third-down pass intended for Welker. Posluszny reached up to make the interception and returned it 59 yards for a touchdown, pulling the Jaguars to 14-12 at halftime.
Jacksonville had a chance to tie it with a two-point conversion, but Henne's pass was picked off in the end zone by Bailey.
NOTES: Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts III left in the first quarter with a shoulder sprain and did not return. ... Colorado Rockies great Todd Helton, a friend and former college teammate of Manning who retired after 17 seasons, was an honorary captain for the Broncos during the pregame coin flip. ... Welker is only the second undrafted player with at least 800 career receptions. Rod Smith, a member of the Broncos' Ring of Fame, is the other. ... Scobee has made 29 consecutive field goals in October. He hasn't had a miss during the month since Oct. 18, 2009. ... Broncos RT Orlando Franklin left the game with a left knee injury. ... The loss snapped Jacksonville's three-game winning streak against Denver.

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