DENVER – Billy Davis‘ scheme worked well enough in the first half to at least keep Peyton Manning in check. He threw for 169 yards and a touchdown in the first 30 minutes of play. Good, but not crippling. The Eagles were within eight at the break.
But Manning caught fire in the third quarter, turning a once competitive game into a blowout.
The 37-year-old went 15-of-17 for 158 yards and tossed three of his four touchdowns in the quarter. When the smoke cleared, the Broncos held a 42-13 advantage.
"We played him the same way throughout I think," said Connor Barwin. "Our different looks were working in the first half. The guy is good at what he does, man. He can kind of figure a little bit of it out and was able to adjust in the third quarter and make some plays on us."
"He made adjustments. Clearly they made adjustments," added Cary Williams. "They saw something, somebody was tipping something off, I don't know what it was."
Most expected Manning to have a big day against this defense, but the ease in which he sliced them up in the second half was unsettling. On their last four touchdown drives, the Broncos did not face a single third down. (They were a perfect 12-of-12 on second down during those possessions). When they did get into a third-down situation, they were 5-of-8 on the day.
"I think it is disconcerting," said Chip Kelly. "But you're also playing against an offense that four teams have tried to stop them and haven't yet. I don't have an answer. Is it disconcerting? Yeah."
Indeed, Manning and the Broncos have been unstoppable through the first quarter of the season. Manning has 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions thus far, which ties a record established back in 1960 (Milt Plum) for most TDs without a pick to start a season.
"It was an outstanding offense we faced," said Billy Davis. "We had to make all our checks at the line of scrimmage. No matter what disguise or coverage or defense you were in, he continually checked in and out, we checked out of some of ours.
"We gave him a very similar look on every play and played a lot of different defenses from that same look. We changed a lot of the appearance of the normal defense that we play, and he was on it. He was better than us today, obviously."
It wasn't all about the opponent that they faced, though. The Eagles came in yielding 29 points per game. Davis' unit is giving up a rather stunning 447 yards per contest.
"Everything about the defense has to improve," said Davis. "We're one month in, we know exactly where we are and who we are, and we have to just put our heads down and put our focus on the Giants.
"We got whooped, and we've got to take it like pros and move on."