DENVER (AP) Julius Thomas was lauded in one locker room and lambasted in the other.
The Pro Bowl tight end caught Peyton Manning’s 500th touchdown pass Sunday in Denver’s 41-20 win over Arizona.
He also caught a lot of flak from Cardinals coach Bruce Arians for his chop block that send Arizona defensive end Calais Campbell out with a sprained MCL that will keep him out a few weeks.
”I’ve been coaching for 37 years, it’s the dirtiest play I’ve seen,” Arians fumed. ”It was a flat chop block and put him out of the game. I know John Fox, great coach and great guy. Somebody has got to answer to that. A fine isn’t going to do it, when he’s going to miss three or four weeks, on a blatant chop block.”
Arians didn’t have a lot to be happy about Sunday as he watched his defense surrender 568 yards, the most they’ve allowed since 1973. That also was the Broncos’ best offensive output ever.
Plus, fill-in quarterback Drew Stanton left with a concussion, cornerback Patrick Peterson sprained an ankle and the Cardinals (3-1) saw the Broncos (3-1) make historic play after historic play.
Manning joined Brett Favre in the NFL’s most exclusive of clubs with his 500th touchdown toss, then added three more, including two that covered 31 and 86 yards to Demaryius Thomas.
His 86-yarder tied Manning’s career high. He also threw an 86-yarder to Marcus Pollard in 2001 against the Saints.
Manning threw for 479 yards and four TDs, moving him within five of Favre’s record 508.
After getting his touchstone touchdown – a 7-yard dart to tight end Julius Thomas – out of the way early, Manning helped Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker make history, too.
Demaryius Thomas set a franchise record with 226 yards on eight catches, beating Shannon Sharpe’s mark of 214 yards set against Kansas City in 2002.
Welker’s seven receptions moved him past Rod Smith for the most catches in NFL history by an undrafted player. He has 854, five more than Smith caught for Denver between 1995-2006.
Welker’s record-breaker came on the last play on the first half, something Manning called ”kind of a ha-ha moment for scouting, for not drafting him. So, whoever was a general manager in 2004, those guys ought to send him an apology letter.”
Demaryius Thomas had a 77-yard TD but it was nullified by Julius Thomas’ chop block on Campbell when left tackle Ryan Clady was about to engage him.
Other takeaways from the Broncos’ big day that sent the Cardinals from the ranks of the unbeaten:
MANNING’S MILESTONE: Manning’s 500th TD throw came in his 244th career regular season game, 49 fewer games than it took Favre, the only other member of the NFL’s most exclusive club. It came against two of his mentors: Arians, who was his first QB coach in 1998, and Cardinals assistant head coach Tom Moore, who was his offensive coordinator during his 13 seasons in Indy.
”I give both of those men a lot of credit for helping me improve as a quarterback,” Manning said.
CAMPBELL’S HANDS: Before he got hurt, Campbell was having a memorable afternoon. The 300-pound defensive end snatched Manning’s screen pass to a wide-open Montee Ball and rumbled toward the end zone before Manning tripped him up at the 5.
”Don’t give me a full tackle for that,” Manning said. ”Give me like a half. I barely grazed his leg.”
Ball later sustained a groin injury that could prove a serious setback for the second-year pro.
FIRST TD: After Stanton was knocked from the game on a hard hit by Von Miller in the third quarter, Logan Thomas came in. On his third series, he threaded a pass through linebacker Nate Irving’s grasp and into the arms of Ellington for a stunning 81-yard score that made it 24-20.
”Man, sometimes it’s just good to be lucky,” Irving said. ”I felt like I was right there in his hip pocket and then he just started running with the ball.”
That ended up being Thomas’ only completion in eight attempts, however.
”It’s a dream that I’ve always had since I was a little kid so it’s awesome to have the opportunity and to have the first touchdown of my career,” Thomas said. ”But at the same it was equally as bad to have a loss.”
GOOD, BAD, UGLY: Brandon McManus provided fodder for both his supporters and detractors in his first game since the Broncos decided to stick with him and release Matt Prater 72 hours before his suspension ended.
McManus had touchbacks on all eight of his kickoffs but his field goals were an adventure. He was good from 44 yards, wide left from 53 and then made a 41-yarder that bounced off the left post and through the uprights.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton