Peyton Manning clapped his hands four, five, six times and barked out the signals. A few seconds later, Wes Welker was all alone, cradling the quarterback’s latest touchdown pass.
All part of another impeccably crafted victory for Manning and the Broncos (3-0), who rolled over the Oakland Raiders 37-21 Monday night in Denver. The Broncos’ 127 points lead the league and are 31 more than second-place Green Bay.
Manning went 32 of 37 for 374 yards and set a few more records while outwitting the overmatched Raiders (1-2).
His 12 touchdown passes are one more than Tom Brady’s old record for the first three games, set in 2011. Manning still has yet to throw an interception, which matches a record held by Michael Vick, who also threw for 12 touchdowns before his first pick in 2010.
OK, so the evening wasn’t perfect. There were the five incompletions, though two of them were flat-out drops and another two hit receivers in the hands, but would have been difficult catches. The Broncos settled for three field goals and had to punt once. Rookie Montee Ball lost another fumble. Denver came a field goal short of reaching 40 points for the third straight game.
And Manning’s prediction that Chris Clark would be a seamless replacement for injured Ryan Clady as his blindside protector didn’t exactly pan out. Lamarr Houston beat Denver’s new starting left tackle badly in the third quarter for a sack and strip that halted a drive that had reached the Raiders 13.
But Denver was ahead 30-7 at that point.
The Raiders offense made one big play before the game got out of hand, when Terrelle Pryor (19 of 28 for 281 yards) hit Denarius Moore in the middle of the field and Broncos defensive backs Duke Ihenacho and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie whiffed on the tackle. Moore went 73 yards to cut Oakland’s deficit to 17-7 in the second quarter.
All of which simply gave Manning the ball back more quickly. On the first play of the next drive, he hit Eric Decker, who spun away from his defender for a 61-yard gain. Three plays later, the Broncos were up 17 again after Manning found Julius Thomas on an out route for a 13-yard score.
Pacman Jones cited for disorderly conduct
Bengals cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones was accused by Cincinnati police of making offensive comments while drunk during a traffic stop early Monday and was given a disorderly conduct citation.
Jones, who has had a spate of legal troubles, was arrested around 2:30 a.m. after the vehicle he was in was pulled over for driving 60 mph in a 45 mph zone on a highway in Cincinnati, the State Patrol said.
The driver was cited for drunken driving while Jones was cited for disorderly conduct. Both charges are misdemeanors.
Jones and the driver were released and have court hearings set for Friday.
Around the league
Texans receiver Andre Johnson was examined after being forced out in the first half of the game with Ravens with a shin bruise. According to Texans coach Gary Kubiak, Johnson is “OK” but will be day to day as the team prepares to host unbeaten Seattle on Sunday. Johnson had recovered from a concussion to play in the loss to Baltimore. … San Francisco placed linebacker Aldon Smith on the reserve non-football injury list as he enters rehab for substance abuse and begins what team CEO Jed York has termed an indefinite absence. … Arizona coach Bruce Arians says Cardinals starting outside linebackers Sam Acho (broken leg) and Lorenzo Alexander (foot injury) are out for the season with injuries sustained in Sunday’s loss to New Orleans. … Jacksonville QB Blaine Gabbert, who missed the last two games after slicing open the back of his throwing hand, will start Sunday for the winless Jaguars against Indianapolis.