Here's how the three keys to the game, identified Sunday morning, unfolded:
1. KEEP PEYTON MANNING UPRIGHT.
Only one team had more five-sack games than the Titans coming into Sunday, and they entered coming off their best pass-rush game of the year. But the Titans didn't sack Peyton Manning and hit him just once, as he defused their quick-attacking interior pass rushers with the Broncos' requisite array of quick outs and inside routes.
Eventually, the Titans started dialing up blitzes to try and defuse the Broncos, but those were effectively dealt with -- never moreso than when
2. FORCE MISTAKES.
Going into Sunday, the Titans were 4-1 when they didn't turn over the football, and 1-6 when they did. So when
This was also the third time this year that the Broncos have had a positive turnover margin (plus-two), and only the second time this year that they didn't turn over the football. It's not a coincidence that the Broncos also broke 50 points the last time they avoided a giveaway (in Week 4, against Philadelphia).
3. SPREAD IT AROUND.
But the defining statistic of an offense that had arguably its best overall day of the season rested in how the touchdowns were dispersed: six scores by six different players: Decker, Welker, Thomas, Ball,
"All year, we’ve been talking about how dynamic our entire offense is," said Julius Thomas, who grabbed five passes for 35 yards and the touchdown in his return to action. "There are guys that maybe hadn’t been getting as many touches in the beginning of the season. Now, they’re going out there and they’re showing everybody what they can do."
This should not change Thursday, even if Welker is not cleared to play after going through the post-concussion protocol. Manning targeted Welker's replacement in the slot,