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Thursday, September 26, 2013
Bailey: Manning's start best ever for QB

By Jeff Legwold

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Play cornerback for 14 seasons before this one, as the Denver Broncos' Champ Bailey has, and you've seen some of the game’s greatest quarterbacks do all kinds of damage to all kinds of defensive game plans.

Bailey says no quarterback he has faced, or watched, over that timeline has started a season like Peyton Manning has started this one.

Manny Ramirez
Peyton Manning has thrown 12 TD passes without an interception through three games.
“I haven’t seen any quarterback be as sharp as him through the first three weeks of the season," Bailey said. “Usually you have some bumps the first three games, but he's smooth sailing right now."

Manning has thrown 12 touchdown passes -- a record over a season’s first three games -- without an interception -- a total that is more than 29 teams had scored so far this season after three games. The Broncos have scored 127 points, tied for the second-highest total over a season’s first three games in league history. Even long-time opponents, especially those who saw Manning's performance against the Raiders on Monday night, say Manning has flashed some of the best accuracy of his career over this current stretch.

An assessment Bailey agrees with.

“He’s going to put the ball where it needs to be, and that’s so frustrating (for defensive backs) because you can have good coverage," Bailey said. “You saw that the other night, people were in tight coverage, but he puts that ball in there and he’s the best at it."

Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase has no shortage of accountability. Gase, in his first season as the Broncos’ play-caller on offense, sets a high bar when evaluating his players. He keeps it there for himself as well. Gase was not fond of a pass play he dialed up in the third quarter of the Broncos’ 37-21 victory against the Raiders. The Broncos were leading, 30-7, at the time and on a first-and-10 from the Raiders' 13-yard line, had Manning in the shotgun. Former Broncos defensive end Jason Hunter beat Broncos’ left tackle Chris Clark around the corner, then swatted the ball out of Manning’s right hand. Hunter then recovered the fumble and the Raiders scored six plays later. Gase simply felt at that point in the game, with the Broncos holding a 27-point lead, the play called for Manning to hold the ball longer than necessary. “The sack-fumble is the one that bothers me because that was a bad play call, I put Chris in a bad position there," Gase said. “That was a ball-holder, we didn’t need it, that would be one I would want to take back … That one bothers me, and I’m going to make sure it doesn’t happen again." Gase was then asked Thursday, if he put the play’s result on his shoulders, and he said; “Absolutely, that play call was terrible."