Undefeated Broncos look to keep Lions winless Sunday night
DETROIT (AP) Peyton Manning's still got a knack for winning.
The 39-year-old, five-time MVP threw three touchdown passes, including one with 36 seconds left, last week at Kansas City to lift the Denver Broncos to a second straight comeback victory to open the season.
Manning's right arm doesn't appear to be as strong as it was in the past. While Manning sounds as if he's tired of hearing that observation, he's not interested in addressing it.
''I got other things to do, I guess,'' he said.
When Manning and the Broncos (2-0) travel to play Detroit (0-2) in its home opener, Lions safety Glover Quin insists he and his teammates won't make the ''huge mistake'' of underestimating one of the game's best quarterbacks.
''I can't say he's lost some of his zip because every time you see him throw a deep ball, he's throwing it too far,'' Quin said. ''He still can throw it. All I know is when it's time for him to make a clutch throw he always makes it whether it's the zip, the lob, the whatever.''
Manning, the No. 1 pick overall in 1998, has made enough throws during his career to break a slew of NFL records. So far this year, though, his 5.1 yards-per-attempt average is by far the lowest of his career while his 58.8 completion percentage and 74.2 rating are the worst since his rookie season.
The Broncos are still trying to figure out the right mix between Manning's passing prowess and coach Gary Kubiak's run-based philosophies. Manning has been in the shotgun for 66 snaps out of 85. Although he's thrown for 381 of his 431 yards from the shotgun, he actually has a better passer rating when he's taking the ball from under center.
''About the only thing we're doing differently is the fact that we've been under center a little bit,'' Kubiak said. ''That's something that he has done.''
Here are some things to watch when Denver plays at Detroit on Sunday night:
GROUNDED GAME: The Broncos have struggled to run the ball effectively, averaging fewer than 2.8 yards a carry and totaling a mere 130 yards in two games. Denver running back C.J. Anderson said a pep talk from his biggest fan might help. ''My mom had to call me and say, `You're just not having fun,''' Anderson recalled. ''I said, `You know what? You're right.''' The Lions, likewise, aren't running the ball very well. Detroit's running game ranks among the worst after two games with 107 yards - ahead of only Philadelphia - and 3.3 yards per carry. Rookie Ameer Abdullah had a 24-yard touchdown run in his debut, but just 34 yards rushing on 12 attempts otherwise. Joique Bell, meanwhile, has 16 yards on 10 attempts.
STAFFORD'S STREAK: Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has started 68 straight games, including two in the playoffs, since a shoulder injury ended his second season prematurely. Stafford has had ribs, chest and upper-right arm ailments already this season, getting banged up a lot despite being sacked only once in each of the team's two games. He was throwing, twisting and turning his torso in practice this week without apparent discomfort and is expected to face the Broncos.
PERFECT PAIR: Denver's outside linebackers, DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller, have combined for three sacks and 13 quarterback hurries. ''They're athletic freaks,'' Stafford said. ''Both of them for big physical guys, bend extremely well, can run under a table full speed it seems like. They're super low to the ground, they're flying. They both have long arms. If you wanted to build a pass rusher on Madden, that is probably what it would look like.''
CALDWELL'S CONNECTION: Detroit Lions Jim Caldwell may know Manning as well as any opposing coach after being his position coach for several years and his head coach for his last two healthy seasons in Indianapolis. When the Lions called Manning about Caldwell before hiring him in 2014, he recalled saying his former coach helped him with his fundamentals and was a big influence on his career. Kubiak was also interviewed for the opening in Detroit.
RED ALERT: The Broncos have seven takeaways and three of them have come inside their own 20-yard line, matching the number of red-zone turnovers they forced last year. Safety Darian Stewart had an interception in the end zone to seal a win over Baltimore in the opener. Against Kansas City, Stewart recovered a fumble and Aqib Talib had an interception inside Denver's 20.
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