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Monday, November 11, 2013
Upon Further Review: Broncos Week 10

By Jeff Legwold

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A review for four hot issues from the Denver Broncos' 28-20 win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

Hits keep on coming: In each of the last three games, quarterback Peyton Manning has been hit from his blindside by an opposing pass-rusher and fumbled the ball. First, it was the Colts' Robert Mathis, then it was the Redskins' Brian Orakpo and Sunday it was Chargers outside linebacker Tourek Williams, who swiped the ball out. It is a growing concern and obviously opposing defenses see backup left tackle Chris Clark as someone they can take advantage of from time to time. Clark has generally played well since Ryan Clady went to injured reserve, but opposing pass-rushers have forced the issue a little more of late with momentum-changing results.

San Diego's Tourek Williams
Tourek Williams was the latest pass-rusher to force Peyton Manning into fumbling.
Lots of action in play action: Manning has always said he believes play-action, when done by an offense that has enough of a running game to make it work, is one of the most difficult things for a defense to handle. Sunday was certainly proof of that. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Manning was 9-of-9 passing with three touchdowns on play-action plays. That total included Manning's 7-yard scoring pass to Demaryius Thomas, when he also moved from the shotgun to under center just before the snap.

Rotation: It's not clear whether it's due to the fact linebacker Von Miller missed six games to open the season with a suspension or Jack Del Rio's desire to use everyone in uniform, but Miller was not in the lineup for several plays on defense Sunday. Miller was not in the nickel package for five consecutive snaps in the second quarter -- he is usually lined up as a defensive end in that look -- and was also not in the nickel and base defense for a selection of snaps in the first quarter.

Ground rules: During two recent games in which Manning has taken plenty of punishment -- the Broncos' loss in Indianapolis and Sunday in San Diego -- the Broncos ran the ball a season-low 20 and 22 times, respectively. Nothing slows down an opposing rush like the running game. Sunday the Broncos ran it just three times in the first half. The Broncos did have just one possession -- a three-play scoring drive -- in the first quarter Sunday, but the Broncos may have to go big and grind it out a little more moving forward, especially if Manning's mobility is limited at all against the Chiefs.