The Broncos' 52-20 destruction of the Philadelphia Eagles at Mile High Stadium yesterday was an appropriate prelude to last night's final episode of Breaking Bad.
Like Walter White, played so memorably by Bryan Cranston, Peyton Manning and his Denver teammates showed vulnerability at times. But in the end, they dispatched their enemies with the sort of cold-blooded amorality that would have done the chemistry-teacher-turned-cancer-stricken meth kingpin proud.
Of course, those of us who live at altitude like to think of the Broncos as the good guys, and White was/is anything but. (No BB spoilers from us -- but watch the damn thing already, okay?) Still, a kinship was established during Manning's post-game interview, when a sideline reporter asked if he felt at all bad about clobbering Philly with such extreme prejudice. Rather than answering the question directly, Manning framed his response as a compliment to the Eagles' offense; the unit's formidability explains why Denver had to keep scoring points, he said. But in the end, he most definitely didn't say "no."
The game's first half fit what's becoming a familiar pattern during the 2013-14 season. The Broncos' first possession resulted in a methodical, extraordinarily efficient nine play, 74 yard drive whose efficiency was absolutely bone-chilling -- for the other team, that is. Wes Welker's six-yard TD drive capper wasn't surprising: It was inevitable.
Nonetheless, the Eagles didn't simply fold their wings and crash-land. New coach Chip Kelly's energetic sprint of an offense, imported from the Oregon Ducks, proved mighty effective on the ground, at least initially, with LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and still-well-wheeled QB Michael Vick biting off yardage in impressive chunks. Meanwhile, the Broncos' lack of a legitimate pass rush (again, heat could only be generated on a regular basis by blitzing) allowed Vick to rack up passing yards as well.
Indeed, the Eagles might have enjoyed a lead at one point if Trindon Holliday hadn't done what Trindon Holliday does when a kicker gives him a chance at a return -- run the damn thing back for a score.
As such, the halftime score of 21-13 Broncos wasn't a laugher -- but it became one soon enough. As has happened during each contest in the current campaign, Manning and company emerged from the locker room with an assassin's mentality.
First possession: ten plays, eighty yards and a touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas. Denver 28, Philadelphia 13.
Second possession: eight plays, eighty yards and a touchdown pass to (yup) Thomas again. Denver 35, Philadelphia 13.
Third possession: seven plays, 65 yards and another touchdown pass to Welker. Denver 42, Philadelphia 13.
At that point, the third quarter wasn't over yet, but the game was. Nonetheless, Manning probably would have stayed in the contest had linebacker Steven Jackson not returned a blocked punt for yet another touchdown, boosting the score to 49-13. At that point, even Peyton couldn't justify risking injury with backup Brock Osweiler prepared for garbage time.
Must a note of caution be sounded at this point? Well, the Eagles were 1-2 coming in to the game and were routed by the resurgent Kansas City Chiefs last week, so they're more of a work in progress than a juggernaut. However, the manner in which the Broncos dispatched them remains not just impressive but daunting. At this point, future opponents have got more than enough game film of Denver dominating to absolutely scare the shit out of themselves.
And that's just the way the Broncos like it. They're playing like White's famous blue meth: at least 96 percent pure.
Here's a recap of yesterday's game.
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