Manning, defense lead Broncos over Panthers 36-14


Manning, defense lead Broncos over Panthers 36-14

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Peyton Manning made sure John Fox's return to Carolina was a successful one, throwing for 301 yards and a touchdown to lead the Denver Broncos to a 36-14 win over the Panthers on Sunday.

Manning threw his 420th touchdown pass to move into a tie for second place on the NFL's all-time list with Dan Marino. He trails only Brett Favre (508).

Manning had plenty of help from his teammates.

Linebacker Von Miller harassed Cam Newton all day and Trindon Holliday returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown as the Broncos (6-3) won for the fifth time in six weeks. The Broncos sacked Newton seven times, including once for a safety, and Miller pressured him into an interception Tony Carter returned 40 yards for a score.

Fox, who coached the Panthers for nine seasons, downplayed his return all week, but celebrated on the sideline with a few fist pumps Sunday.

After a strong start, Newton finished 21 of 36 for 241 yards with two touchdown passes to tight end Greg Olsen. He threw two interceptions.

But Newton spent most of this day on his back.

Miller, selected No. 2 in the NFL draft, one spot behind Newton last year, was a disruptive force right from the start, sacking Newton on the game's second series and then celebrated by imitating Newton's Superman routine, pretending to rip open his shirt.

Miller later forced a fumble.

The Panthers (2-7) appeared ready to give the Broncos a challenge early while playing in all-black uniforms, jumping to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 4-yard pass from Newton to Olsen.

But it was all Broncos after that.

After a slow start, Manning started to pick apart Carolina's defense and was 16 of 20 for 135 yards and a 10-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley in the first half as the Broncos methodically built a 17-7 lead.

With the game tied at 7, Holliday put the Broncos ahead with a nifty punt return for a controversial touchdown. As Holliday sprinted the final 25 yards to the end zone alone and untouched, television replays appeared to show him flip the ball out of his hand in celebration about a yard before he reached the end zone.

Although all NFL touchdowns are reviewed, there was no notification from the replay booth and the action continued with Matt Prater's extra point.

Prater later made it 17-7 on a 53-yard field goal.

Early in the third quarter, Charles Johnson sacked Manning and forced a fumble that Greg Hardy recovered. But on the next play Miller grabbed Newton's ankle in the backfield as he was trying to throw and Carter stepped in front of the pass near the sideline and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown and a 24-7 lead.

Prater added another field goal and Mike Adams sacked Newton for a safety to make it 29-7.


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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 


The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall reamins out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.

The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.


The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.

By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine, if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

No player on the Caps gets more scrutiny than defenseman Brooks Orpik. While the analytics aren't kind when he's on the ice, we got to see what the Caps looked like without him when he was scratched against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday and...well, his loss was noticeable.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir discuss what Orpik's true impact on the Capitals really is both on and off the ice on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast. Plus, they also talk about John Carlson's monster season and Barry Trotz's new strategy for the goalies.

Listen to the latest episode in the player below or here on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.