NFL: Broncos withstand Jaguars 35-19
Denver • All week, the Broncos had to endure the destructive forces of glorification.
The damaging raves were first heard from the wise guys in Las Vegas who made the Broncos whopping 261/2-point favorites on game day.
The given was the Broncos would beat the Jacksonville Jaguars. The question was at what point in the game the Broncos would cover.
The Broncos won. Even if they might have played one of their worst games in the young season and Jacksonville played one of its best, the Broncos had enough margin for error to prevail, 35-19.
But the Broncos never came close to covering. This was not like the cosmetically appealing performances of so many previous Broncos victories this year.
"There was a lot of bad football out there," said Broncos receiver Wes Welker, whose 800th career reception went 20 yards for a TD.
The good was Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning threw two early touchdown passes to set another NFL record, and running back Knowshon Moreno set a personal record with three second-half touchdown runs.
The Broncos improved to 6-0 as expected. The Jaguars fell to 0-6 as every breathing human presumed. What surprised many, however, was the Broncos had to sweat.
"You know, there is resistance out there," Broncos coach John Fox said when asked if his team maintained focus throughout. "It's called the other team. And the end of the day, we're very, very pleased with the victory."
The Broncos entered play Sunday averaging 46 points a game. Jacksonville had scored 51 points all season.
"But [Chad] Henne is the better player," said Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, who returned from a season-long foot injury. "And they got [Justin] Blackmon back. That makes them a better team than what they had been showing."
Henne is a veteran who is a far more competent quarterback than prospect Blaine Gabbert, who was hurt. Blackmon was suspended from the first four games of the season. He sliced up the Broncos' secondary for 14 catches and 190 yards Sunday.
Midway through the third quarter, when there were projections of Manning's departure, the Broncos were up only 21-19.
"It was progress, but it wasn't enough," said Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew. "It [stinks] to lose."
Early on, the Broncos fed into their overconfidence by taking a relatively easy 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Manning threw a touchdown pass to Julius Thomas on his first drive and a second scoring strike to Welker to finish the Broncos' second possession.
It gave Manning 22 touchdown passes on the season, the most by an NFL quarterback through six games.