1:00 PM ET, November 4, 2012
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Manning has never lost the Bengals, and his Broncos seek a third straight victory while dealing host Cincinnati a fourth consecutive defeat Sunday.
Denver got off to a disappointing 1-2 start as Manning's 85.6 QB rating ranked 11th in the NFL. The future Hall of Famer has been stellar since, though, posting a league-best 127.9 passer rating while throwing 12 touchdowns to only one interception as Denver (4-3) has won three of four to take sole possession of the division lead.
Manning went 22 of 30 for 305 yards and three touchdowns in last Sunday night's 34-14 blowout of New Orleans, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 300 yards, throw three TDs and complete 70 percent of his passes in four straight games. He battled through a thumb injury to pass for at least 300 yards in a career high-tying fifth straight game after banging it on a defender's helmet in the second quarter.
"Quarterbacks, probably the biggest fear is always the thumb on the helmet of the defensive lineman," said Manning, who has won each of his seven career starts versus the Bengals while throwing 17 touchdowns to three interceptions. "It'll be sore, but I'm probably a little bit lucky."
Though luck seems to have little to do with Manning's latest surge, Dalton and the struggling Bengals (3-4) likely would welcome some coming out of their bye week.
Dalton finished 14 of 28 for 105 yards in a 24-17 loss to Pittsburgh on Oct. 21, tossing his sixth interception during Cincinnati's three-game skid. He's thrown at least one pick in every game this season.
"You have to play (well) at quarterback in order to win. That stands out," said coach Marvin Lewis, whose team held a 14-3 lead against the Steelers. "You have to take care of the ball on offense. You have to play efficiently at quarterback. That's the way it is when you look at the games across the league. Turnovers beat you."
Cincinnati has turned the ball over eight times during its losing streak which has wiped away a promising 3-1 start, but Lewis hopes the bye week helped the Bengals regroup.
"I thought we were very, very good at stinking up October and we need to do a cleanse," Lewis said. "We have an opportunity to fix a lot of the things that are ailing us right now, and that's what we've got to do."
Cornerback Leon Hall said the current slump may provide some motivation.
"We like that position, to be honest," Hall said. "No one gives us a chance after losing three games in a row and Denver is playing really well. You have to give it to them, but we like that position."
Cincinnati allowed 167 rushing yards versus Pittsburgh, which may not bode well against a Denver team that finished with a season-best 225 yards on the ground last week.
Willis McGahee ran for a season-high 122 yards and a touchdown for the Broncos, who had combined for 127 rushing yards over their previous two games.
"We just showed glimpses of what our offense can do when we all work together," McGahee said.
The Bengals' ground game hasn't been nearly as good, averaging 78.7 yards over the last three. They haven't had a 100-yard rusher this season, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis' 3.4 yards per carry average ranks 38th in the NFL among 49 qualifying players.
Denver held New Orleans to only 51 yards rushing as Wesley Woodyard led a strong defensive effort with a sack and strip, an interception and 13 tackles to earn the league's defensive player of the week honor.
"We've still got to continue to get better," said Woodyard, who's the first Denver defender to record 50 tackles with multiple sacks (three) and interceptions (two) before the midway point of the season. "We don't want to be satisfied with what we did (Sunday). We want to come back next week and show the same thing."
It's a similar message coach John Fox is trying to instill in his team during its surge.
"You're never as good as they say you are, you're never as bad as they say you are," Fox said. "The key to this thing is getting better each and every week. That message won't change with our group."
McGahee rushed 28 times for 101 yards and a score in last season's 24-22 win over Cincinnati, marking Denver's third straight victory in the series.
Broncos-Bengals: What to watch
After watching film of both teams, Scouts Inc. breaks down key elements of the Week 9 Broncos-Bengals matchup.
• Slow down Green: A.J. Green is an elite wideout who is nearly impossible to stop. Andy Dalton looks for Green in a big way in the red zone, and as Green goes, so goes the Bengals' offense. Tight ends have been giving Denver a lot of problems, as its linebackers and safeties can be exploited in coverage, but Jermaine Gresham has been disappointing this season as both a receiver and blocker. Still, Denver's secondary has consistently improved as this season has gone along, especially with its cornerbacks. And Champ Bailey is still playing at a high level. Drew Brees threw for just 213 yards in Denver last week.
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|Avg Points Allowed||21.9||27.3|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||DEN|
|Rush Yds Allowed||DEN|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Denver leads 5-1|
|Sep 18, 2011||DEN 24, CIN 22|
|Sep 13, 2009||DEN 12, @CIN 7|
|Dec 24, 2006||DEN 24, CIN 23|
|Oct 25, 2004||DEN 10, @CIN 23|
|Sep 7, 2003||DEN 30, @CIN 10|
Andy Dalton has thrown an interception once every 14.4 attempts against five or more rushers this season, the second-worst rate in the NFL (Matt Cassel, 13.3). The Broncos have used such pressure 37.0 percent of the time this season, the ninth-highest rate in the league.[+]
Andy Dalton Facing 5+ Pass Rushers - Last 2 Seasons
Peyton Manning has the third-best completion percentage on throws more than 20 yards downfield this season, completing at least three such passes in four of his seven games. In 2010, Manning completed three such throws in a game three times, with his 27.6 completion percentage ranking 25th.[+]
Peyton Manning Passing More Than 20 Yards Downfield - Last 2 Seasons
ESPN Stats & Information