HOUSTON -- While at least one of the footballs Peyton Manning threw for a touchdown Sunday will be on the way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the coming days, yet that play was not Manning’s pick as the most important in the Broncos' 37-13 victory against the Houston Texans Sunday.
Manning’s selection wasn’t even anything the Broncos did on offense.
No, when it came to a play Manning singled out following the Broncos' 12th victory of the season it was an interception by safety Mike Adams on the second play of the fourth quarter.
“Mike Adams’ interception, in my opinion, was the play of the day,’’ Manning said. “We were in a little rut on both sides of the ball and that really spring-boarded the whole team.’’
The final score and Manning’s record day may have camouflaged that thought. But with 14 minutes, 21 seconds left in the game Sunday, the Broncos held just a 16-13 lead and the Texans had a first-and-10 at their own 20-yard line with the Broncos having put three consecutive three-and-outs on offense in the third quarter.
Texans quarterback Matt Schaub tried to fit the ball in up the right sideline to rookie wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Adam cut in front of Hopkins, snatched the ball out of the air and got toe-tapped to get both feet in-bounds.
“I just read the quarterback’s eyes and I jumped it,’’ Adams said. “Definitely was a game-changer, we just started getting things rolling after that.’’
“I probably forced that one on the sideline,’’ Schaub said. “ … I just scrambled, tried to make a play, probably better just throwing it away in that situation, but in this type of game, we ought to go try to make plays.’’
Adams joked after the game he was able to get his feet in-bounds because he watched his daughter Maya in ballet classes.
"You weren’t supposed to be listening to that,’’ Adams said with a laugh. “Watching my daughter do baller all the time, that’s how I got my feet in.’’
The play did seem the snap things in line for the Broncos on both sides of the ball. The Broncos offense turned Adams’ play into a touchdown in just two plays later, for a 23-13 lead.
“Points off turnovers, that’s what you always want,’’ Adams said. “That’s the goal, give the ball back to Peyton and our offense and get points. That’s how it works.’’
The Broncos then scored on their next two possessions as well. The Broncos defense, though it had some frustrating moments of a missed tackle or two to go with a Texans receiver running free too many times for defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio’s liking, finished with a better than it had had much of the time this season. The Texans’ 13 points amounted to the fewest the Broncos have allowed in any game this season as Houston finished with just 240 yards.
“We always pride ourselves on making strides, just getting better every week,’’ Adams said. “This is a stepping stone to the next season to come ... and that’s the playoffs.’’