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Monday Morning Manning

This is a blog title that I have used more than once already, but when Peyton Manning continues to assault not only the NFL record books but those of our imaginations as well, it is just too good to pass up.

Our most recent installment, following the Denver Broncos' 52-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, has these new facts and records to offer.

As you read them, just give a moment's consideration to how difficult each of them is to do.

The 52 points scored Sunday are a team record, and the first time Denver has scored 50 since a 50-35 win over San Diego in 1963.  To put a little perspective on that, I have been with the Broncos for 337 regular and postseason wins, and it is the first time we have scored 50 in my 36 years with the team.

Peyton Manning passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns, and he now has 16 scoring passes, the most through the first four games of a season in NFL history.

In the third quarter against Philadelphia Manning engineered three touchdown drives of 80 yards—without once having a third down play!  Denver had 18 first downs in the third quarter, to one for the Eagles.

Peyton Manning is averaging a touchdown pass every 9.75 attempts.

Since the second half at San Diego on Oct. 15, 2012 the Broncos have scored 525 points and have allowed 242.  Over 14.5 games that is an average point total of 36 for the Broncos and 16 for our opponents.

Denver now has won 15 consecutive regular season games, each by at least seven points.  That is the second longest streak in NFL history, trailing only the 1941-42 Chicago Bears, who had a 16 game streak.

Very much worth noting is that the Bears at that time were led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Sid Luckman and they were in the midst of introducing the T-formation to the NFL.  Clark Shaughnessy had invented the "T" at Stanford and brought it to Chicagp.

It was a brand new formation in pro football.  They had actually popularized the "T" at the very end of the 1941 season when the Beards defeated the Washington Redskins, 73-0, in the NFL Championship Game.

That game, which was the most decisive victory in NFL history, popularized the Bears' T-formation with a man in motion.

I point that out just to show how long it has been since there has been such a streak—virtually since the dawn of football in a context recognizable to the modern viewer.  

In his first 20 games with the Broncos Manning has 6,129 yards and 53 touchdowns.  Those marks are the most by any quarterback in his first 20 games with a team.

I love the sense of the game which Manning has.  At his postgame press conference, due to the numerous records he is setting, the names of some NFL quarterbacks of times gone by were brought up.  He was asked if he knew what was the uniform number worn by Mile Plum (Cleveland Browns), and he quickly said 16. 

Then, walking out, someone shouted out, "What number was Sammy Baugh?"

"Thirty-three," Peyton replied, after initially saying "42."

Then, as he, PR man Patrick Smyth and I exited the room, he pondered for a few seconds and said to me, "Conerly was '42', I think. 

Yes, he was, Peyton.  Correct again.  Charlie Conerly was an Ole Miss product who quarterbacked the New York Giants in the 1950's and indeed wore number 42.

And Peyton Manning knew that, and the numbers for Plum and Baugh.  I feel very safe in saying that he, I, and just a couple others were the only people present who would have been able to name those numbers. 

And by the way, Charlie Conerly was Madison Avenue's first "Marlboro man" in the 1950's television commercials—but that is a subject for another blog.

Manning's appreciation for history is great, as he continues to make his own.

It is very easy to become spoiled and take all this for granted.  The best advice is to not be suckered in by people who are drinking Kool Aid by the vat.

It is all fun for the fans and press to watch, and we should enjoy every minute of it without making assumptions about the future.

Every game is another opportunity to excel, and that is the mindset that the players and coaches are taking into each week of play.

No matter how good a master bricklayer is, he can only lay one brick at a time.  So too for a team working on its overall goals.  It is always one brick at a time.

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