The Denver Broncos improved to 6-3 and won their fourth straight game after blowing out the Carolina Panthers, 36-14, in Week 10. The Panthers opened the game with a Cam Newton touchdown pass to Greg Olsen, but it was all Broncos from there, as Denver reeled off 27 unanswered points to seal it up early in the fourth quarter.
It was a huge day for the Broncos defense and special teams. Those two units contributed more than half (22) of the Broncos points. On special teams, it was return man Trindon Holliday taking it to the house for the second straight week. Holliday was untouched on a 105-yard kick return last week in Cincinnati, but this week he had to do a little more dodging and weaving on his way to a 75-yard punt return. He tip toed down the right sideline, beating the angle by Carolina punter Brad Nortman to get to the end zone. There was a bit of controversy, however, as it appeared Holliday (à la DeSean Jackson) dropped the ball in celebration before he crossed the goal line. All scoring plays are automatically reviewed, but the touchdown was not overturned.
On defense, it was the pass rush that constantly harassed Newton for the full 60 minutes. Von Miller had a huge day and was a persistent source of pressure in the Carolina backfield. In the third quarter, Miller burst through the Carolina offensive line and forced Newton to spin around and throw off-balance to the sideline. As he let it go, Miller dove at his legs and took him down, which also affected the throw. Waiting on the other end was Broncos cornerback Tony Carter, who easily picked off the pass and returned it 40 yards down the sideline for the pick-six.
At one point, the Panthers had just two yards on 20 plays in the second half. Miller had a monster day, finishing with four tackles for loss and a sack. The second-year pass rusher was also part of the pressure that resulted in a Mike Adams sack for a safety, adding to the big day for Denver's defense and resulting in a comical dance from Miller.
All the work put in by the defense and special teams secured the win on a day the Denver offense was relatively quiet. Peyton Manning, however, was effective yet again, hitting Brandon Stokley for an early first quarter touchdown. It was his 420th career touchdown pass and brought him even with Dan Marino in second place on the all-time NFL list.
Manning was sharp throughout the day, hitting his targets and completing 27 of 38 attempts for 301 yards and a touchdown. Demaryius Thomas had a big day working with Manning, hauling in nine catches for 135 yards.
Greg Olsen was one of the few bright spots for the Panthers. The veteran tight end finished with nine catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns
Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas injured his knee and was helped off the field. But the big play threat did return to the game.
But did they cover?
The Broncos were favored by 3½ points in most places, and they easily covered.