BRON­COS 29, PACK­ERS 10

Sum­mary; game re­port; box score.

Packer Plus - - News - By PAT GRA­HAM

Den­ver — The re­sult Sun­day night shouldn’t fool any­one — th­ese teams re­ally could meet again this sea­son.

If they do, it would be in the Su­per Bowl, of course, and Green Bay would need to be bet­ter. A lot bet­ter.

Aaron Rodgers and the Pack­ers didn’t show up in the most hyped game of the sea­son. Den­ver won 29-10, and this one was all Pey­ton Man­ning and the Bron­cos.

Rodgers was 14 of 22 for just 77 yards — one of the least pro­duc­tive games of his ca­reer. The Bron­cos out­gained the Pack­ers (6-1) by an eye- open­ing 500-140 mar­gin.

Pack­ers coach Mike McCarthy said he hadn’t had his butt “kicked like that in a long time.”

In part be­cause of Man­ning’s strug­gles and in part be­cause of Rodgers’ good start to 2015, Green Bay came into this game as a three­p­oint fa­vorite. Man­ning threw for 340 yards. Rodgers got sacked three times and fum­bled once, which re­sulted in a safety — the fi­nal ex­cla­ma­tion point on a dom­i­nant day for Den­ver.

“It’s a good de­fense, a re­ally good de­fense,” Rodgers said. “They have a good pass rush. They cover well. I think tonight was more about what we didn’t do. We didn’t ex­e­cute in the run game, didn’t ex­e­cute in the pass game, didn’t con­vert third downs. That’s why we got beat.”

The Bron­cos — 7-0 for the first time since 1998 — were in com­plete rhythm be­hind Man­ning, who’s strug­gled week af­ter week but had a topranked de­fense to help him out.

This time, he didn’t need it. He gave them a lead and let Von Miller, DeMar­cus Ware & Co. go to work. With the win, Man­ning ties Brett Favre for the most vic­to­ries (186) by a quar­ter­back in the reg­u­lar sea­son. So much for writ­ing Man­ning off.

“Yeah, he’s still got it,” Rodgers said of his coun­ter­part. “Yeah, he’s good.”

There were quite a few plays that were in­dica­tive of the kind of night it was for the Pack­ers, but this one was as good as any: On a third-down play late in the game, James Jones caught a pass for a first down, tried to gain some ex­tra yards, went back­ward, fum­bled and lost the first down, lead­ing to a Pack­ers punt.

“Frankly, (Bron­cos coach) Gary Ku­biak had his team play­ing a lot faster than I had my team play­ing tonight,” McCarthy said. “That was ev­i­dent early and of­ten. I don’t feel good about the way we per­formed. . . . Very hum­bling loss.”

It cer­tainly didn’t help los­ing cor­ner­back Sam Shields and his backup Quin­ten Rollins to shoul­der in­juries in the first half. The Pack­ers also had a scare in the third quar­ter when line­backer Clay Matthews went to the bench af­ter hurt­ing his left leg.

While he was out, C.J. An­der­son broke off a 28-yard run to make it 24-10.

Matthews did re­turn, but the dam­age was done.

En­ter­ing this game, Green Bay’s de­fense had only al­lowed 16.8 points per game — tops in the league. Den­ver eclipsed that in the sec­ond quar­ter. Ron­nie Hill­man had two TD runs as the Bron­cos jumped out to a 17-0 lead.

“(Man­ning) had some turnovers in the pre­vi­ous games but he was still Man­ning,” cor­ner­back Casey Hay­ward said. “He com­manded their of­fense tonight. They were com­ing off a bye just like we were and they were pre­pared.”

Notes: Rodgers had 31 yards rush­ing to go over 2,000 in his ca­reer. The Pack­ers said he’s the eighth QB in NFL his­tory to have 30,000 pass­ing yards and 2,000 rush­ing yards. . . . Green Bay is now 23-8 on Sun­day night. . . . Ed­die Lacy had a 2-yard TD run. . . . The Bron­cos in­ducted owner Pat Bowlen into the team’s Ring of Fame at half­time. Bowlen is bat­tling Alzheimer’s dis­ease and did not at­tend.

RICK WOOD / RWOOD@JOURNALSENTINEL.COM

Bron­cos quar­ter­back Pey­ton Man­ning shakes off his sea­son-long strug­gles and throws for 340 yards. Man­ning tied Brett Favre for the most vic­to­ries (186) by a QB in the reg­u­lar sea­son.

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