DENVER – **As has become seemingly routine with each game, Peyton Manning set another NFL record in Denver's 37-21 win versus Oakland.
Manning threw for three touchdowns in the win, increasing his season total to 12, which are the most in league history through three weeks of play.
The quarterback didn't waste any time, connecting with wide receiver Eric Decker on a 2-yard score to cap an 8-play, 55-yard drive on the Broncos' opening possession.
"There's always some things you're happy about after a game and some things you're frustrated or disappointed about," Manning said. "We certainly had some good drives and had a good start to the game. That was the first game we have gotten a touchdown drive on our first series. That was something we really stressed during the week."
He threw for two more first-half touchdowns, the first of which went to wide receiver Wes Welker from 12-yard outs. Manning then found tight end Julius Thomas for a 13-yard touchdown
that gave Denver a 24-7 lead late in the third quarter.
"That was a called play," Manning said of the touchdown pass to Welker. "That was a red-zone play we put in. Wes ran a good route. He can change directions very quickly – as good as anybody I've seen. He ran a really good route and I had good protection on that play as well."
By halftime, Manning had thrown for 264 yards on 21-of-24 passing, good for a 152.1 passer rating.
He finished the game 32-of-37 for 374 yards with the three touchdowns for a quarterback rating of 135.8. The win marked his 15th consecutive regular-season game with a passer rating above 90.0, which broke his own NFL record that he set back in 2004.
His 86.5 completion percentage set a new career high and a Broncos franchise record (min. 20 attempts).
"We've worked hard on the passing game, starting with the offseason and training camp," Manning said. "We knew it was going to play a pivotal role for us this year. But I still think you strive for balance. I think we averaged four yards-per-carry in the run game, 4.5 yards or so, and when you can do that, that can certainly help your passing game and help put their defense in a little bit of a bind. You know, 'Do we drop back and play zone?' That's opening up running lanes. 'Do we crowd the box?' Now you've got one-on-one. If you put the defense in that position, that's a good thing."
Manning and the passing game had help from a Broncos' run game that saw running backs Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball and Knowshon Moreno combine for 32 carries for 166 yards.
"Any time you can have the running game going, I know that opens up some things in the passing game and hopefully keeps the defense off balance," Manning said. "I thought all the backs made some good runs tonight. Really some good runs by Ronnie Hillman. Good job on him on that one drive. Two really good runs and then finishing with a touchdown was important."
Eight different Broncos caught passes in the game, led by Demaryius Thomas' 10 receptions.
"Well, all of them did a good job competing," Manning told ESPN's Michele Tafoya after the game. "We knew we were in a challenge because Oakland has good cover corners. They mix up their coverages well. Guys did a good job getting open versus man and finding some holes in the zone. All of them did a good job running with the ball after the catch."
Manning's blindside was protected by left tackle Chris Clark, who started his first game in place of All-Pro Ryan Clady, who went on injured reserve with a foot injury earlier this week.
Manning said he'd know more after watching the tape, but was pleased by the Clark's effort.
"I haven't seen the film yet, but I thought Chris was sharp," Manning said. "He was on top of all the checks. There were no mental issues with him. He'll just get better each game throughout the season."
Though Manning was happy with the win, he knows there are plenty of areas where the team can improve.
Denver's offense had just one three-and-out in the win, but it did turn the ball over twice and have to settle for three Matt Prater field goals.
"Certainly you see flashes of good things," Manning said. "We're executing and not making mistakes. We can go this distance, we can go 80 yards and certainly take advantage of the short field, but you can still see some mistakes. A turnover there in the end in the four-minute situation – we can't have that. Penalties on a short-yardage situation and we had to settle for field goals. Those are things we have to iron out."