Peyton Manning got the best of younger brother Eli for the third time in as many meetings, helping the Denver Broncos pull away for a 41-23 win over the New York Giants in a game that was the worst-possible scenario for the father of the two quarterbacks.
While Peyton Manning threw two second-half touchdown passes for the Broncos, Eli was intercepted four times -- three in Denver’s end zone -- and his lone touchdown pass came with less than four minutes remaining and the Giants trailing by 22 points at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
“I don’t like to see the guys struggle,” former National Football League quarterback Archie Manning, the patriarch of the family, said in an interview outside the Giants’ locker room. “I wish it had been closer, but that’s football. The offense struggled and they couldn’t run the ball very good.”
Peyton Manning’s first two wins over his younger brother came when he was with the Indianapolis Colts, in 2006 and 2010. While the uniform was different, the result was the same last night for the four-time NFL Most Valuable Player, who completed 30 of 43 passes for 307 yards, without an interception.
“It’s a strange feeling,” he said of getting the best of his brother again. “It’s not quite as enjoyable as it would be if you were beating somebody else.”
The Broncos, who led 10-9 at halftime, scored four second-half touchdowns to open a 38-16 advantage.
Manning, 37, threw touchdown passes to Wes Welker and Julius Thomas, while Knowshon Moreno scored the second of his two rushing touchdowns and Trindon Holliday added an 81-yard punt return for a score that sent many Giants fans heading for the exits with just over 10 minutes left.
The Broncos, who rolled past the Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens 49-27 in the NFL’s season opener, have now scored more than 40 points in consecutive games for the first time since 1976. Denver has won 13 straight regular-season games dating back to last year, including seven on the road.
“Any time you go on the road and win on the road in a hostile environment like this, it’s a big thing,” Welker said.
Last night’s game marked the first time in NFL history that both starting quarterbacks were coming off 400-yard passing performances. After combining for 11 touchdown passes in Week 1, the Manning brothers failed to throw one during the first half.
Both teams missed opportunities, with Peyton completing 7 of 8 passes for 88 yards on the opening drive before rookie running back Montee Ball fumbled the ball into the Giants’ end zone. On the next play, Eli lofted a deep pass to Victor Cruz, who snagged the ball on his fingertips for a 51-yard gain.
The Giants settled for a field goal on the drive. They’d settle for two more in the second quarter, including one after driving to the Broncos’ 6-yard line. Tight end Brandon Meyers had a 27-yard reception early in the drive, yet tripped as he broke free in the middle of the field and was seemingly on his way to a touchdown.
New York drove to the Broncos’ 28-yard line in the closing seconds of the first half before Eli Manning badly overthrew Hakeem Nicks in the end zone and was intercepted by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Eli Manning, who completed 28 of 49 passes for 362 yards, had three more interceptions in the fourth quarter as Denver pulled away. On the first play of the fourth quarter, his pass to Rueben Randle was deflected by Tony Carter and then bounced off the back foot of the Broncos’ cornerback into the arms of teammate Chris Harris. Five plays later, Peyton Manning tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Thomas.
“We had some opportunities early on,” Eli Manning said. “Their offense started clicking and making some plays. We had turnovers and we just couldn’t catch any breaks.”
Eli Manning, 32, had two other passes intended for Randle intercepted in the end zone, the last with 50 seconds left, and has now been picked off seven times through two games as the Giants dropped to 0-2. New York has surrendered an NFL-high 77 points.
“Eli would be the first to say that he’s not the way we want him to be,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “Somehow, some way, we’ve got to stop the interceptions. Now, if you’re going to try to tighten it up a little bit, we’re going to have to have some run game to go with it.”
The Giants finished with 23 rushing yards on 19 carries, offering little offensive balance to alleviate the pressure on Eli Manning, who might have missed his last chance to beat his older brother. Unless the teams meet in the Super Bowl, the Broncos and Giants won’t play during the regular season again for another four years.
“There’s a great possibility this was it,” Archie Manning said. “If Peyton stays in Denver, I don’t know if he’ll be playing until he’s 41. But we look at these games as an honor and part of the journey.”
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