- Jeff Legwold, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly examination of the Broncos' quarterback play.
Rewind: After carving out a few more lines in the league's (and Broncos’) record book, Peyton Manning got a quarter off this past Sunday. He did not play in the fourth quarter of Denver's 52-20 victory over the Eagles and still finished 28-of-34 passing for 327 yards and four touchdowns. It was his 24th career four-touchdown game, now the most in league history, and he has 16 touchdown passes this season without an interception.
Fast-forward: Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin has made more than a few laps around the league in his long career as a top defensive assistant and has certainly created game plans to battle Manning along the way. But Kiffin plays the Tampa Cover 2 scheme for the most part, and Manning may not have seen any defense more than that one. Why? Manning played for Tony Dungy in much of his time in Indianapolis, and Dungy was Kiffin's boss in a long run in Tampa. Kiffin won’t fool Manning, and he knows it, so he’ll be looking for ways to win matchups in the middle of the field and hoping the Cowboys can limit the Broncos to field goals in the red zone.
Keeping it steady: Manning has remained disciplined against multiple defenses dropping a pile of players into the pattern in an effort to take away the big plays. Manning has not forced the ball and continues to just take what’s there and be happy with scoring touchdown after touchdown. He had 18 completions of 10 or fewer yards against the Giants, 18 completions of 10 or fewer yards against the Raiders and 15 completions of 10 or fewer yards this past Sunday against the Eagles. It has been a long list of catch-and-run throws, on time, in the right spot, that have added up to history so far.
Prediction: Manning is on an unprecedented roll right now -- 16 touchdowns in four games to go with a 75 percent completion rate, including 86.5 and 82.4 completion percentages in his last two games. The Cowboys are coming off a game in which they surrendered 401 yards passing to San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers with former Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy now overseeing the Chargers' offense. Toss in what appears to be some confidence issues for Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne and that is a potential recipe for another big day for Manning.