This is a tremendous run on which the Denver Broncos have embarked, at once worthy of praise and perspective.
The perspective is important. This is no time to tell ourselves how special we are, because, as I have pointed out many times, when you allow circumstances to sweep you off your feet, where your wind is flat on your back, and in danger of getting trampled.
As Kenny Rogers sings in the country-western song, there’s time enough to count the winnings where the dealin’s done, and the dealin’ is not yet done in the National Football League.
So, caution and perspective.
Now to the praise.
The Broncos defeated the Baltimore Colts in old Memorial Stadium in the second game of 1983, which also was the second game of the illustrious first career of John Elway—I say first career, because he is doing really well in his “second” career, as the Broncos’ chief football executive, right now.
Then the Colts moved, then the Ravens came, and in the five visits made by Denver to Baltimore to play the Ravens over the years, we never won. Zero for five.
But then came Elway as team exec, and Elway begat Peyton Manning, and the classic phrase of a “new sheriff in town” is perfectly applicable here.
The team we too to Baltimore this year and how it is playing bears close resemblance to the great Bronco teams of the past, and not much to those previous teams that lost in the Maryland city.
The Baltimore Ravens have only lost by 17 points or more at home four times this century, and in three of those losses the opposing quarterback was Peyton Manning.
Fans sometimes have no idea how hard it is to beat a fine team, and the Ravens are a real fine team, in their home stadium. Baltimore loses very seldom at home, and the game Sunday was the largest home defeat in the past five seasons for th4e Ravens.
The Broncos ran the ball 45 times in that win over the Ravens, the most rushing attempts for a Manning-quarterbacked team in his NFL career. Since 1998 (Peyton Manning’s first season) , according to research done by stats guru Andrew Mason of MaxDenver.com, the Broncos have run the ball at least 45 times in a game 14 times, including Sunday.
Denver is 44-5-1 all-time when it rushes 45 or more times in a game.
We have now won nine straight games, which is the longest streak for Denver since the 13-0 start that marked the beginning of 1998—and that was part of a 14-game regular season winning streak and an 18-game overall streak that included the World Championship postseason games of 1997.
So it is a heck of a streak.
With one more win Denver will have its second-longest streak ever (a 10-game run in 1984).
A key turning point play in the Baltimore win was the 98-yard interception return for a touchdown by Chris Harris just seconds before the first half ended, and that was the second interception return by Harris this year and the fifth by the team overall, second-most in the NFL in 2012 and tied for the most in Bronco history.
Dating back eight games, the Broncos defense has only allowed opponents to convert on 18-of-100 third downs. On third-and-5 or more, those opponents have converted just 7-of-73 attempts – just 9.6 percent of the time.
But the streak would not be alive if it were not for Manning, already the only four-time Most Valuable Player in the NFL history and a strong candidate for his fifth such award this year.
This week’s Monday Morning Manning stats—and there are fantastic ones every single week—show that he passed for 204 yards and a touchdown in the 34-17 win at Baltimore. That yardage total puts him at 4,016 passing yards this season–extending his own already established record—by recording his 12th career 4,000-yard season.
So his eleven 4,000-yard seasons was already the most ever, and he has extended his own record to twelve.
And the 11 wins to which he has directed the Broncos this year mark his ninth time with at least 11, and that too is the most for any quarterback in pro football history.
In his first season with the Broncos Manning has become the fifth player in NFL history to pass for 4,000 yards with two different teams. He joins Drew Bledsoe, Brett Favre, Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon and Kurt Warner in that exclusive club.
No time to let up now, and this is a team that has no intention of letting up as it reaches ever closer to its goals.