The Denver Broncos entered their Sunday night contest against the New Orleans Saints with a mostly clean bill of health, Tracy Porter being the big exception. They ended the evening with essentially that same bill of health, minus the loss of Joe Mays, as the Broncos avoided any major injuries to their team during their 34-14 win over New Orleans.
A minor injury concern came in the second quarter, when Peyton Manning smacked the thumb on his throwing hand against a Saints player's helmet. It didn't seem to hurt his performance too much going down the stretch, as Manning still managed to put together a solid performance with over 300 yards and three touchdowns.
They did lose a player, though perhaps not as major a player as Manning, late in the game. Linebacker Joe Mays was knocked out during a special teams play and broke his leg, an injury which will end his season.
Porter, the biggest name on the injury report prior to the game, ended up missing the game due to an illness. Listed as questionable prior to the game, he'll likely be ready to play again when the Broncos take on the Cincinnati Bengals next weekend.
The Broncos led 17-7 at the half and immediately extended the lead coming out of the locker room. Veteran quarterback Peyton Manning led Denver on an 11-play, 93-yard drive to open the half that was capped by a one-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas, giving the Broncos a commanding 24-7 lead just over five minutes into the third quarter.
The Saints would gain just 31 yards of offense in the quarter, with Denver forcing Drew Brees and company to punt on both possessions of the second half. The Broncos were marching down the field once more as time expired in the quarter following a three-and-out by the Saints at the end of the quarter.
Manning is 18-of-24 for 278 yards and two touchdowns through three quarters, while the Saints have been held to just 152 total yards thus far in the game.
The Saints would answer on the next drive, tying the game when running back Darren Sproles scrambled 29 yards for the touchdown. The Saints defense would force a three-and-out for Peyton Manning's offense on the next possession, with New Orleans marching down the field once more upon receiving the ball.
Faced with a fourth-and-two from the Denver 47, the Saints made the controversial decision to go for it rather than punting the ball away. Quarterback Drew Brees was intercepted, with the Broncos getting a short field to work following the return. Manning connected with receiver Eric Decker six plays later, giving the Broncos a 14-7 lead.
Matt Prater's 33-yard field goal as time expired in the half capped a 72-yard drive to end the second quarter for Denver.
McGahee punched the ball in from the 1-and-a-half yard line with 4:43 left on the clock in the first quarter. McGahee appeared to have scored one play earlier on a 15-yard pass from Peyton Manning, but as he attempted to cross into the end zone his knee hit the ground before doing so. Two officials had different calls and upon review McGahee was ruled down.
However, McGahee wasn't free from error. With less than two minutes left in the quarter, he fumbled the ball and saw the Saints recover it. The Saints converted that for a touchdown on Drew Brees' 29-yard pass to Darren Sproles.