A record-setting performance has Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos flying high as they roll into MetLife Stadium. Eli Manning can’t say the same as he and the New York Giants look to get back on track after a disheartening season-opening effort.
The third installment of the "Manning Bowl" will involve a new team as Peyton looks to improve to 3-0 against his brother Sunday.
The Broncos opened the NFL season in spectacular fashion with a 49-27 victory over Super Bowl champion Baltimore last Thursday. Manning delivered an NFL record-tying seven touchdown passes and no interceptions along with 462 yards through the air.
"This was a good start to a new season for us," Manning said. "… So, it’s just a start, get a couple days’ extra preparation for Week 2."
Five of the TDs came in the second half as Denver avenged last season’s stunning playoff loss to the Ravens.
"It’s something ridiculous," said tight end Julius Thomas, on the receiving end of Manning’s first two TD throws. "I think a couple guys were joking, we were saying it’s like Madden – the only time you get to throw seven touchdowns."
Julius Thomas had 110 yards on five catches while Demaryius Thomas had 161 on five along with two scores.
Denver did fumble three times, losing two, but its turnover problem paled in comparison to that of New York. Eli Manning threw three interceptions – one on a late potential go-ahead drive — and starting running back David Wilson lost two fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown, in the Giants’ 36-31 defeat at Dallas last Sunday night. New York turned it over six times in total.
"David Wilson is a very talented young man, who we need to be productive," coach Tom Coughlin said. "We have been down this road before. We can help him be a better ball carrier, a better secure ball carrier."
The team wasn’t taking any chances, bringing back longtime Giant Brandon Jacobs on Tuesday after he spent a season with San Francisco to provide depth and stability behind Wilson. Coughlin refused to discuss his starting lineup for this game Tuesday.
While the Giants still had a chance to win despite the turnover barrage, it seems highly unlikely they’ll have that opportunity if they give Peyton Manning that many extra chances. He bested Eli in two matchups while with Indianapolis in 2006 and ’10 before joining the Broncos before last season.
Peyton threw for 276 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a 26-21 win at Giants Stadium on Sept. 10, 2006, with Eli passing for 247 yards and two scores with one INT. On Sept. 19, 2010, in Indianapolis, Peyton was 20 for 26 for 255 yards and three TDs with no picks as the Colts rolled 38-14.
Eli struggled in that game, going 13 for 24 for 161 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. However, he’s coming off a 450-yard, four-touchdown performance last week.
"You do take a moment there to realize that it is your brother over there that’s the quarterback for the New York Giants in the NFL, the same person that you grew up with, so it is unique and I think you take a moment to realize that it is special," Peyton Manning said.
Three of Eli’s TDs against the Cowboys went to Victor Cruz, but his pass that bounced off running back Da’Rel Scott’s arm and was returned 49 yards for a touchdown with 1:50 left was too much to overcome.
The Broncos seemed to realize this week that the giveaways masked a dynamic performance through the air – and suggests that a shootout between the Manning brothers could be on tap.
"That tells you about what kind of team they are, to have that many turnovers and still be around and still be competing for the win," Broncos safety Duke Ihenacho told the team’s official website. "They’re a dangerous team and they’re a good team and we know that. That’s how we’re going to approach it."
Denver hopes to have cornerback Champ Bailey on the field to help slow down the Giants, but Bailey missed the opener with a sprained left foot. If he can’t go, he’ll again be replaced by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Starting middle linebacker Wesley Woodyard is also uncertain for the Broncos.
Also without suspended All-Pro linebacker Von Miller, Denver still delivered four sacks — 2 1/2 from linebacker Shaun Phillips — and limited Baltimore to 58 yards rushing.
Although the Giants got a big effort from the passing game — receivers Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle each finished with more than 100 yards — they’ll have to be even better defensively this week in addition to taking care of the ball.
New York held Dallas to 331 yards but got only sporadic pressure on Tony Romo, sacking him twice. It will almost certainly need the pass rush to generate more heat on Peyton Manning to have a chance to slow down the Broncos.
The Giants have won three straight home games in this series, the last such meeting coming in 2005. The Broncos won 26-6 in Denver on Nov. 26, 2009, in the most recent matchup.
That one included only one Manning.
"It’s still neat. It doesn’t happen very often. It is neat to see your big brother there on the sideline or seeing him before the game," Eli Manning said. "Those moments are the things you remember and will remember for a long time.
"Hopefully when I think back on these games that we’ve played against opposing teams with my brother, I can think and remember at least one win."