East Rutherford, NJ (SportsNetwork.com) – Peyton Manning had a far better showing than his last trip to MetLife Stadium.
Although it took him a little while to get going.
Manning tossed three touchdown passes, inching him closer to Brett Favre’s all-time record, and the Denver Broncos held off the New York Jets 31-17 on Sunday afternoon.
Manning’s previous game in East Rutherford began with an errant snap that resulted into a safety. It never got better for the Broncos as they were trounced 43-8 by Seattle in the Super Bowl this past February. Manning was intercepted twice, finishing 34-of-49 for 280 yards and a touchdown.
It was a different story Sunday.
Despite being sacked twice and hurried countless other times in the first one- and-a-half quarters, Manning still ended 22-of-33 for 237 yards.
The five-time NFL MVP is two touchdown passes (505) shy of tying Favre for the all-time mark.
New York fought back from a 24-7 third-quarter deficit and had a chance for a game-tying score. The Jets got the ball with 56 seconds left and no timeouts following a Denver punt, but Aqib Talib’s 22-yard interception return for a score with 15 ticks on the clock sealed the outcome.
Demaryius Thomas had 10 receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown, while Julius Thomas caught four passes for 51 yards and two scores for Denver (4-1), which has won two straight since its Week 3 loss at Seattle.
Ronnie Hillman, filling in for an injured Montee Ball, carried the ball 24 times for 100 yards in the triumph.
Geno Smith completed 23-of-43 passes for 190 yards with two touchdowns and an interception and rookie second-round tight end Jace Amaro hauled in 10 balls for 68 yards and a score for the Jets (1-5), who have dropped five straight since a Week 1 win against Oakland.
Eric Decker recorded six receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown against his former team in defeat.
Demaryius Thomas’ 54-yard reception on the game’s first snap led to a Brandon McManus 37-yard field goal. Denver’s offense struggled following its opening drive, though, totaling just five yards on its next four series.
In between, the Jets took the lead on their second possession. Amaro caught three passes for 30 yards on that sequence, which was capped when he came down with a jump ball over Denver safety T.J. Ward in the back left corner of the end zone, making it 7-3 late in the first quarter.
Although they were stymied early, the Broncos’ offense posted touchdowns on their next three touches. They converted four straight third downs after being unable to move the chains on their first five third downs.
On a 3rd-and-9, Manning hit Emmanuel Sanders on a post corner for a 14-yard pickup and later on a 3rd-and-goal from the 1, Manning eluded pressure before stepping up and finding Demaryius Thomas in the front part of the end zone to put Denver in front with 5:50 to go in the second.
Following a Jets punt, Manning capped a brisk 9-play, 80-yard march when he fired a 22-yard TD pass to Julius Thomas along the right seam, staking Denver to a 17-7 advantage with 27 ticks left in the half.
New York went three-and-out on its initial drive of the third and the Broncos’ offense went right back to work. Juwan Thompson scampered for a 16-yard gain off left guard and Hillman picked up 26 up the middle despite fumbling to move the ball to the Jets’ 26. Andre Caldwell pounced on the loose ball to help Denver regain possession.
Manning hit a wide-open Julius Thomas for a 4-yard score and a 24-7 Broncos cushion.
Nick Folk hit a 30-yard field goal and Smith flipped a 2-yard TD pass to Decker midway through the fourth on back-to-back touches to get the Jets within seven.
New York forced a Denver punt, but then went three-and-out. The Broncos regained possession with 5:05 to play and moved the chains twice before booting the ball away with under a minute left.
The Broncos were 7-of-16 on third down, while the Jets finished 5-of-14 … Denver outgained New York 359-204 … Julius Thomas has nine TD receptions so far this season … The Jets haven’t dropped five in a row since 2007, when they lost six in a row at one point.