- Jeff Legwold, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly examination of the Broncos' quarterback play.
Rewind: This just in: Peyton Manning had an actual interception Sunday, a third-quarter toss in wide receiver Eric Decker's direction that went awry. It was Manning’s first interception of the season and he peeled the play like an onion following the game, calling it a “bad decision." Oh, he also tossed four more touchdown passes, threw for 414 yards and completed 78.6 percent of his passes, and his team scored more than 50 points for the second consecutive week.
Fast-forward: The best two offenses the Jaguars have played thus far -- Seattle and Indianapolis -- put up 45 and 37 points, respectively, to go with 479 and 437 yards, while running 67 and 70 plays. Those are well-balanced offenses with big-play potential. They are not, however, offenses operating at the level Manning has taken this Broncos offense to over the season's first five weeks. The Jaguars are the lowest-scoring team in the league in the first year of what will be an extensive rebuild. This one will be a test of the Broncos’ composure and work ethic, but if they play with some focus, Manning should get some time off in the second half, much like when he sat out the fourth quarter against the Eagles in Week 4.
I’ll take it: Five teams now have aligned their defenses to take the big play away from the Broncos' passing game. And five teams have now watched Manning pick away at their plans at a historical pace. In his last four games, Manning has had 18, 18, 15 and 18 completions of 10 or fewer yards -- that’s 56 percent of his completed passes in that span. Eleven of his 20 touchdown passes have also gone for 10 or fewer yards this season. It takes discipline to show that kind of patience, and when Manning does see the opening downfield, he’s quick to take the shot and his accuracy has been spot on.
Prediction: The Jaguars are currently 31st in the league in scoring defense, 27th in sacks and 32nd in rushing yards allowed. That is a profile of a defense that is down big early in games and then gets pounded in the run game the rest of the way. Manning is pushing his teammates hard and the results have shown week to week so far. If Manning and the Broncos' coaches can keep this team’s concentration through the week, he figures to put up yet another big day in a season full of them thus far.