His final pass of the game was a 5-yard scoring strike to
“It’s hard to reflect too much in the middle of the season, but I know how hard this group has worked,” Manning said after the game. “We have put the time in certainly with the football requirements from the Broncos and we have done things outside of the requirements – guys have done things on our own: weightlifting, throwing sessions, conditioning work, you name it. Guys have paid the price and sacrificed in order to get in this position. It is fun to play with guys like that who have that kind of work ethic and passion.”
Manning threw four first-half touchdowns to finish with 55 in the regular-season, extending the NFL single-season record he set in that category last week.
Manning finished the game 25-of-28 for 266 yards with four touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 145.8 passer rating.
He led the Broncos to a 31-0 halftime lead, as the team set the NFL’s single-season team scoring record.
“Well, it was nice to get the lead in this game,” Manning said. “We got off to a hot start, the defense did a good job getting us the ball back. And we did a good job on first and second down – thought we had too many third downs. I thought that was important. Our red-zone scoring was good. And then (wide receiver) Demaryius Thomas’ long play was really important, kind of set the tone for the day in my opinion. It was good to get that lead and, like I said, the defense did their part. It was Coach’s decision at halftime to make the change.”
Manning’s historic season ended with him completing 450-of-659 passes for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions – good for a passer rating of 115.1.
Denver’s Week 17 win gave the club a 13-3 record and the AFC’s top playoff seed for the second-consecutive year.
The team had to overcome injuries to players, as well as a month without its head coach to reach that No. 1 seed.
“It’s a season unlike any other for me as far as when your head coach is ill and miss him for a while, we’ve had some injuries, Manning said. “Those things are well-documented. But the players have kind of kept their focus on trying to do the players’ jobs. I think that has been constant and I think that has served us well.”
Overcoming all that adversity is something that Manning said made him appreciate the success even more.
“You certainly do,” Manning said. “Like I said, it has been unique and we feel fortunate to still be play
Sunday’s win culminated a historic regular season for Manning, a year that came just two seasons removed from his neck surgeries.
“It was hard to think too far past probably that day,” Manning said when asked if he’d have thought those records were possible while he was rehabbing. “When you’re injured you sort of focus one day at a time and you don’t get too far ahead. Today was a good finish to the regular season and we are pleased with that.”
As the No. 1 playoff seed, the Broncos now have a bye week before hosting the lowest-remaining playoff team in the AFC Divisional Round. As page turns from the regular season to the postseason, the next set of team goals are in front of the team.
“Certainly we’ve had our goals all along,” Manning said. “This is why you work hard in the offseason. This is why you lift weights and have the offseason program – is to give yourself an opportunity to play in the postseason. But I’ll tell you, it’s a fun group of guys to play with and offensively it has been a fun unit to meet with, practice with, watch tape with, work after practice with. I’ve really enjoyed the coaches and the players on offense. It’s been a fun group.”