Inside The Bills

Pack’s ‘O’ make you defend entire field

Posted by Chris Brown on December 14, 2014 – 11:10 am

When looking at how incredibly precise, efficient and explosive Green Bay’s offense has been this season one wonders how even on the broken plays they’re still able to gain big chunks of yardage. A lot of it points back to Aaron Rodgers, but as head coach Doug Marrone sees it the Packers don’t allow defenses to cheat or shade to one side of the field or the other.

“It’s speaks for itself how good they are offensively,” Marrone said. “If you just had a quarterback and a running back, you wouldn’t be at the numbers that they are. If you just had a quarterback and one wide receiver, you wouldn’t be at the numbers they are. Their offensive line, you look across the board and those guys are five tough sons of a guns that get after it. They deserve a lot of the credit for the success that they’ve had.

“You have to defend the whole field. When you have to do that from a defensive standpoint, no matter who you’re playing against, it becomes difficult. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to get the defense to defend the whole field because, when you get defense to do that, you can make bigger plays.

Marrone said the Packers force defenses to cover the whole field with their route patterns and their formations.


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Bills ‘D’ hoping for crowd noise

Posted by Chris Brown on December 14, 2014 – 10:30 am

Bills fans haven’t let them down yet, which is why Buffalo’s defense is hoping to hear the 73-thousand plus loud and clear when they’re on the field today.

Knowing the efficiency with which Aaron Rodgers runs the Green Bay offense, the Bills defense, despite being a top five unit, knows any help they can get from the fans to disrupt communication and operation of the Packers attack is welcomed.

Coming off a win in their last home game, Kyle Williams sees this one as even more critical due to the ‘no margin for error’ importance on this game.

“I think that was a lot of that talk leading up to our last game with Cleveland—we hadn’t played particularly well at home, and we were able to do that there with Cleveland and win a big game,” he said. “We’ve got an even bigger game this week. With Aaron Rodgers and their offense coming in,  our crowd can play as a big a part in this game as they’ve played in any game this year. He relies a lot on different counts, different cadences, keep the pass rushers off their toes, keep the defense on their toes—crowd noise can be a big benefit for us this weekend.”


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Aggressive play the aim for offense

Posted by Chris Brown on December 14, 2014 – 9:03 am

Robert Woods talked about it after the loss to Denver last week, more aggressive play right from the jump for Buffalo’s offense. Heading into Sunday’s game with Green Bay, he and his offensive teammates are hoping it happens.

“Attitude and just going after the defense,” said Woods when asked what he means by being more aggressive. “What we see and what they give us and what we feel like we can take in certain routes, certain runs, certain plays and just always attacking and keeping them on their heels. Just keep moving forward.”

Fred Jackson believes there will be opportunities in the air and on the ground against a Packer defense that surrenders points.

“Running the ball we feel like we can run the ball and we have to be able to run the ball and we feel like we can do it against them,” he said. “It’s about being aggressive and going after them. I think that’s what he wants to do. We all want to go after them, get some long scoring plays, get the crowd into the game and being loud for us and if we do that it gives us the best chance to win.”

And winning is a must because a loss essentially ends the Bills attempt to stay in playoff contention.

“It’s do or die,” said Woods. “We have to win so no reason to hold back.”

 


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Fired up Packers ‘D’ expected by Marrone

Posted by Chris Brown on December 13, 2014 – 2:59 pm

While Bills fans see a Packers defense that surrendered 37 points to the Falcons last week and perhaps an opportunity for the Buffalo offense to get back on track, head coach Doug Marrone sees something different.

Marrone believes Green Bay’s defense will come out motivated to redeem themselves after allowing Atlanta to climb back into the game this past Monday night.

“I think what that convinces me of is they’ll come in here and their defense will be ready to go right off the bat,” said Marrone in his weekly appearance on Coffee with the Coach presented by Tim Horton’s. “There has been a lot of focus on that. Julio Jones and Matt Ryan are two of the better players at their positions in the league and they were able to take advantage of some man-to-man opportunities and really played well. Defensively they had a big lead at the time, but they haven’t played that poorly all year in the secondary. It’s actually been the strength of their defense. What it does is it gives you some optimism where we might be able to run the ball and throw the ball just as well. We’ve been challenged all year offensively so our job is to make sure we’re efficient.”


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Orton remaining confident

Posted by Chris Brown on December 13, 2014 – 12:57 pm

It wasn’t an easy line of questioning that Kyle Orton had to handle this week. The media asked him flat out if he and the rest of his offensive teammates felt they were holding up their end of the equation when it came to team performance.

When asked specifically if he felt like he and his offensive teammates were letting the defense down, this was his response.

“It’s a team football game,” he said. “We’re 7-6 because that’s what the team has done to get to that point. Obviously as an offense we want to go out and play well every week. If we’re letting anybody down we’re letting ourselves down. I don’t have any regret. I have a lot of optimism that we’re going to get it done this week and we’re going to get it done for the remainder of the season.”


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Pack bring couple of WNY’ers with them

Posted by Chris Brown on December 13, 2014 – 10:26 am

The Green Bay Packers have a pair of Western New York natives on their roster, so the two will be coming back home for Sunday’s game.

RB James Starks, who played his college ball at UB, will be back playing against the team he watched growing up. So will OL J.C. Tretter, who hails from Akron, NY. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy had nothing but good things to say about both players.

“James has been a great representative,” said McCarthy of Starks. “He represents our program very well. He’s been an excellent Green Bay Packer. I go back to his first year, 2010, he had the hamstring injury, missed all of camp, was put on PUP and came off it and was a huge part of our run to the Super Bowl. He’s the same James Starks as I’m sure you guys remember. He’s smiling every day. Tremendous work ethic. He’s really in the groove right now and I thought he played his best game as a Green Bay Packer last week. … He’s been given more opportunites but I thought he played extremely well against Atlanta.”

As for Tretter, McCarthy appreciates the Cornell grad’s versatility.

“JC’s doing great. He’s a great fit for us,” said McCarthy. “Pretty much can play all five positions. That’s obviously rare as an offensive lineman. Very pleased what he’s done. He’s had two unfortunate injuries that have kind of held him back as far as opportunties. But JC is a very good young player.”


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Pack’s Lacy is probable

Posted by Chris Brown on December 12, 2014 – 1:51 pm

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Packers RB Eddie Lacy (hip) was limited in practice for much of the week, but he’s listed as probable. It’s possible that Lacy will share more of the load with fellow RB and UB product James Starks knowing his hip ailment has been a persistent one, but it appears he’ll be ready for Sunday’s game. Here is the rest of the Green Bay injury report from Friday.

OUT
CB Davon House – shoulder
LB Jamari Lattimore – ankle

PROBABLE
DT Bruce Gaston – illness
RB Eddie Lacy – hip
G T.J. Lang – ankle
G Josh Sitton – toe
LB Nick Perry – shoulder


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Fan Friday 12-12

Posted by Chris Brown on December 12, 2014 – 1:25 pm

Time for another edition of Fan Friday. On to your questions now from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hi Chris,

What are the illuminated numbers for when the Bills are on Defense? We sit on the visitors side of the Bills Stadium and often wonder if it signals to the defense.

Tony Pariso
CB: The fluorescent number cards held up by a Bills sideline assistant when the Bills defense is on the field is a cue card. The number on it identifies the personnel grouping of the opposing offense on that particular play. For example, a card that has an 11 on it means 11-personnel, which is one back, one tight end and three receivers. If it’s a 22 that means two backs and two tight ends. The number in the tens column identifies the number of backs in the grouping. The number in the ones column identifies the number of tight ends in the grouping.

Knowing you’ve got five lineman and a quarterback, you can do the math to figure out how many receivers you need to get to 11 total players based on the number of backs and tight ends.

It’s just a simple identifier tool for the defense so everyone is on the same page and can focus on the defensive play call and any pre-snap checks.

 

2 – Chris:
In the week that the Bills had to play the Jets in Detroit it was stated by Coach Marrone that it was a tough week because he prefers a set routine in preparing the team and he feels the players like a set routine. The way the team performed and had energy against the NY Jets after all the upheaval with the weather, do you think coaches should re-think the need to have a set routine?  Do you think by following the same routine a team could get stale and cause players to lack energy and concentration.  I feel it may be best to change practice routines and schedules during the season which may keep players sharp and fresh.

Thanks
Joe
Blasdell

CB: I think the coaching staff makes an effort to tweak certain aspects of the practice week to keep players on their toes, but largely football players and coaches are creatures of habit. I don’t know that it’s fair to take one isolated performance in a neutral site situation with a lot of upheaval to the normal schedule and let that convince you that the schedule should be altered every week.

 

3 – Hi Chris,

Is it possible that the Bills will give a free agent a chance at being the franchise QB? I am actually targeting Kirk Cousins from the Redskins. He has one year left on his contract, but I really don’t see him as a fit for the Buffalo Bills. Obviously, EJ Manuel will be given another chance, but Cousins is a bomber, and I think it would be exciting to watch Cousins with our current wide receivers. I would most definitely keep Kyle Orton as insurance, he has more than proven himself.

Your thoughts,
Tony, Ormond Beach, Fl

CB: I think the quarterback position could be a very fluid situation this offseason. You have EJ Manuel under contract and I still believe you have to work with him and develop him further. Giving up on him after just 14 starts seems foolhardy. Ryan Tannehill didn’t look like much in his first two seasons, but now in year three he’s demonstrated bona fide progress and has grown into the role for Miami. The Dolphins stuck with him and he’s rewarding them for that despite a change in offensive system this year.

Whether the Bills choose to stick with Orton as the veteran or bring in another is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to offseason decisions that must be made.

 

4 – Chris,

Can you give fans an update on the RT position. How has Henderson been doing? Fans are probably upset at Cyrus’ development since he got beat out by a 7th round pick. What is the future for Cyrus. I really don’t see him playing guard in the future. The Bills thought he had first round talent. I know Henderson may have been a steal. With no first round pick next year, it looks bad their 2nd round pick can’t be active on game day.

CB: Henderson has had his share of ups and downs this season. He has had some steady games and some unsteady games, but that inconsistency is to be expected with a rookie who is starting at this level for the first time. His athleticism and physical gifts are unquestioned and his work ethic has been pretty solid all year.

Cyrus Kouandjio is much younger in football than Henderson. Henderson played four years of college ball and all through high school. Kouandjio played two years of high school ball and declared early for the draft. Kouandjio is also just 21-years old.

He’s still growing into his body frame. Kouandjio needs to get stronger and needs reps. I think the team has to be patient with him and let him grow and learn for a couple of years. In time he could very well justify being a second-round pick, and the Bills knew when they picked that they’d have to wait on him a bit.

Kouandjio will never have the athleticism or feet that Henderson does. That’s God-given. Had Henderson not had all the off the field red flags, he’d have likely been a first-round pick for what it’s worth. I believe Kouandjio will be a contributor in time, but that’s what it’s going to take before he maximizes his potential. Time.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

Now that TV networks hire former referee’s for insight during the broadcast, would the Bills be able to hire a former ref to be on the staff and be on the sideline to assist the Head coach with challenge calls for example?

Thanks Travis

CB: That’s a pretty clever idea. Knowing how there seems to be an expert for every part of the football operation, why not a former official on your staff? I’ll have to check to see if there are rules against doing that. The only thing that I could see preventing that is a coach being concerned that it would indicate that he doesn’t know the challenge system well enough.


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Searcy out for Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on December 12, 2014 – 12:43 pm

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It wasn’t looking promising to begin with, but head coach Doug Marrone confirmed it on Friday, S Da’Norris Searcy is out for Sunday’s game due to a hamstring injury.

Searcy was a limited participant on Thursday, but did not practice at all on Friday. Duke Williams is expected to see all of the work at safety in his absence. Williams has been playing a lot this season at safety on a rotational basis.

Here’s the rest of Buffalo’s injury report.

OUT
TE Chris Gragg – knee
S Da’Norris Searcy – hamstring
WR Mike Williams – calf

QUESTIONABLE
DE Jarius Wynn – knee

PROBABLE
K Dan Carpenter – groin
DT Stefan Charles – quad


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Lacy, 2 OL still limited for Packers

Posted by Chris Brown on December 11, 2014 – 4:11 pm

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Green Bay feature back Eddie Lacy (hip) was limited in practice for a second straight day on Thursday. So were both of the Packers’ starting guards.

Josh Sitton (toe) and T.J. Lang (ankle) were both limited again Thursday too. All three players are expected to play Sunday.

Player Pos Injury Participation Thursday
Davon House CB Shoulder DNP
Bruce Gaston DT Illness DNP
Eddie Lacy RB Hip LP
TJ Lang G Ankle LP
Jamari Lattimore LB Ankle DNP
Nick Perry LB Shoulder LP
Josh Sitton G Toe LP

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Searcy, Mario, Hairston practice

Posted by Chris Brown on December 11, 2014 – 4:08 pm

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Da’Norris Searcy did not participate in practice on Wednesday, but was able to do a little more in practice Thursday as he worked on a limited basis.

“He did some stuff today, but we’re going to see how it goes,” said head coach Doug Marrone of Searcy. “He was out here, taped up and going. It was on a limited status. He did individual (position drills).”

Searcy is dealing with a hamstring injury. Mario Williams and Chris Hairston returned to practice Thursday from illness.

Player Pos Injury Participation Thursday
Mike Williams WR Calf DNP
Chris Gragg TE Knee DNP
Da’Norris Searcy S Hamstring LP
Jarius Wynn DE Knee LP
Dan Carpenter K Right Groin LP
Stefan Charles DT Quad LP

 


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McCarthy: We spend extra time on DBs

Posted by Chris Brown on December 11, 2014 – 1:09 pm

Green Bay head coach Mike Mike McCarthy in being asked about Buffalo’s defense referenced the fact that with the Bills being a team they don’t see all that often, they have to put in some extra study time. Where most of that extra study takes place is with an opponent’s defensive backfield.

“The Bills defense is playing very well,” McCarthy said. “Definitely got talent all the way through. It definitely starts up front with their defensive line and their ability to stop the run and get after it with the pass rush. We’re very impressed with what they’ve done. Physical at the linebacker position. This is a secondary we haven’t played against before. We spend a lot of extra time in particular on film study, this is an uncommon opponent, and we’re impressed with the video.”

Whether the extra study on opposing secondaries helps Aaron Rodgers all the more is unknown, but it apparently can’t hurt in light of the season that McCarthy’s quarterback is putting together this season.


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Watkins: Fighting to the end

Posted by Chris Brown on December 11, 2014 – 10:35 am

The players in Buffalo’s locker room realize the situation in which they’ve put themselves. There is no margin for error with three games to play. Even though it’s his first time going through it at the NFL level, how things have played out has not sit well with Sammy Watkins.

“Very upset,” he said of Buffalo’s current standing at 7-6. “We understand as a team and an organization that it’s not all on what everybody is saying. It’s about what we do. I think we let a couple games slip on ourselves so we put ourselves in this situation. But we still have control of our destiny. We could win out three games and be 10-6 and hopefully make it to the playoffs. That’s what we’re fighting for.”

 


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Pack’s Lacy limited

Posted by Chris Brown on December 10, 2014 – 4:32 pm

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The Packers are relatively healthy with just three games left in the regular season. Starting RB Eddie Lacy however, is a bit nicked up. He was limited in practice Wednesday. Here’s the rest of Green Bay’s injury report.

Player Pos Injury Participation Wednesday
Davon House CB Shoulder DNP
Eddie Lacy RB Hip LP
TJ Lang G Ankle LP
Jamari Lattimore LB Ankle DNP
Nick Perry LB Shoulder FP
Josh Sitton G Toe LP

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Searcy does not practice

Posted by Chris Brown on December 10, 2014 – 3:38 pm

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Da’Norris Searcy was in attendance at practice Wednesday, but didn’t do much on Wednesday. He was joined by a couple of other players who were out ill. DE Jarius Wynn in his return from injury practiced on a limited basis. Here’s the full injury report.

Player Pos Injury Participation Wednesday
Mike Williams WR Calf DNP
Chris Gragg TE Knee DNP
Da’Norris Searcy S Hamstring DNP
Mario Williams DE Illness DNP
Chris Hairston T Illness DNP
Jarius Wynn DE Knee LP
Dan Carpenter K Right Groin LP
Stefan Charles DT Quad LP

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100 catch seasons not so rare in 90’s

Posted by Chris Brown on December 10, 2014 – 11:54 am

There’s a common perception that with the NFL becoming more and more of a passing league that there have been far more 100-catch seasons in the last eight or nine seasons in comparison to the 10 or 11 seasons prior. Buffalo has a pair of receivers in both eras who were number one picks in Eric Moulds and Sammy Watkins, who were the subject in our exam of the 2014 WR class to that of the ’96 class. Moulds already has a 100-catch season, which is the only in franchise history. Watkins will probably flirt with some 100-catch seasons in his career, but in counting up the 100-catch season in the NFL in those two eras might surprise you.

From 2006-2014 there have been 33 100-catch seasons posted. Wes Welker has five of them for the most in that span. But between 1995 and 2005, granted an 11-year span instead of eight-year plus span, there were 34 100-catch seasons by individual receivers.

As far as Eric Moulds is concerned it shows that the receivers from his era were more productive arguing that today’s receivers get more targets per game and thus more opportunities to make more catches. The fact that there aren’t appreciably more receivers today posting 100-catch seasons than there used to be when he was playing is proof as far as he’s concerned.

“You look at the New England Patriots. They just plug guys in,” Moulds told Buffalobills.com. “They lose Wes Welker and plug in (Julian) Edelman and he gets 100 catches. It’s one of those things where you throw the ball so much and you put so much emphasis on the passing game that you’re obviously going to have an opportunity to make plays. They’re given so many opportunities with the passing game.”

Moulds said in a conversation with former teammate and Hall of Famer Andre Reed the two leading receivers in team history entertained the thought of playing in today’s game and how many more chances they’d have to produce.

“You’re always going to say, ‘What if I was playing this era,’” said Moulds. “I had a conversation with Andre Reed right before he went into the Hall of Fame and he was saying, ‘Moulds what if we were playing in this era where they throw the ball a ton? Even when I was in the K-Gun we didn’t throw it this much.’ I said, ‘Man, it would be great.’”


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What Moulds told Watkins

Posted by Chris Brown on December 10, 2014 – 11:52 am

In today’s headline story on Buffalobills.com we take a look at how the 2014 draft class of receivers stands a good chance of eclipsing the gold standard for receiver draft classes, which was the 1996 group. Buffalo has a first-round pick in each of those classes at the receiver position in Eric Moulds and Sammy Watkins. Recently Moulds was on hand for a Bills home game to lead the charge prior to kickoff. He also had an opportunity to talk to Watkins. Here was some of the exchange between the two.

“I did catch up with him on the sideline,” said Watkins. “I had a couple of words with him and that was great to see guys like him. Guys I look up to and now they’re coming to watch me play.”

Moulds was the one who did most of the talking during the meeting between the two first-round picks.

“I just told Sammy that I was a big fan of his and I expected big things out of him,” Moulds told Buffalobills.com. “I told him I was looking forward to him breaking all of my records and Andre Reed’s records. If he does that it means the team is successful.”

The Bills’ record holder for two of the highest reception season in team history, Moulds put the onus on Watkins to earn Pro Bowl recognition sooner rather than later.

“I told him the last time a receiver from the Bills went to the Pro Bowl it was me,” said Moulds. “It’s long overdue. I also told him that the last time a Pro Bowl receiver took a Bills team to the playoffs it was me as well. So it’s up to him and (Robert) Woods and (Chris) Hogan and they have to step it up and make plays.

“Once they get their offense down and Sammy gets in a situation where he’s comfortable, because teams are paying a lot more attention to him when you’re making plays like he was making. He has to watch a lot of film to figure out how he can get open and beat double teams. It’s going to come with time, but he’s still a rookie.”

Moulds also extended Watkins the invitation to call him at any time for any questions he might have about the game, like getting separation off double teams, something Moulds saw a lot in his time with Buffalo.

“No, I told him that if he had any questions he could reach out to me and I’d be happy to help,” he said. “I just told him just be ready to play, but we could always talk whenever or I could come back up to town. Sammy kept saying, ‘Yes sir. Yes sir.’ He’s one of those guys. I said, ‘Sammy I’m not that old so you don’t have to call me sir.’”


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Marrone on Orton’s 3rd-and-1 decision

Posted by Chris Brown on December 8, 2014 – 4:40 pm

Facing a 3rd-and-1 at the Denver 25-yard line in the second quarter, Kyle Orton rolled right, and instead of going for the first down marker near the right sideline or throwing it away, the Bills quarterback chose to slide a yard short of the first down marker. Orton said after the game he wished he had thrown the ball away. Head coach Doug Marrone offered his thoughts of the play after watching the game tape.

“I think what Kyle said yesterday it was exactly right—it was a poor decision,” said Marrone. “Meaning, if you throw the ball away and no one’s open, we’re OK with that from that standpoint, because we know he’s not someone who’s going to be able to run and get the first down.

“My conversation with Kyle was, if the decision’s made to go and run for the first down, you need to go get that.  He wasn’t the only player yesterday—we had a couple of times with some of the receivers who had the ability to get the first down, and wound up losing ground and coming up a little short.  It’s something that we’ve got to get better at in consistency and awareness. We all have to do a better job in that.”

Marrone confirmed Monday that Orton will start Sunday against Green Bay stating that he believes Orton gives Buffalo the best chance to win.


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What waived-injured means for Mike Williams

Posted by Chris Brown on December 8, 2014 – 4:05 pm

With Mike Williams waived-injured today (Monday) to make room for the Bills to sign WR Deonte Thompson, here’s where Williams’ status stands with respect to Buffalo’s roster.

Designated as waived-injured the 31 other NFL clubs now have 24 hours to put a waiver claim in on Williams. If another NFL club is awarded the claim for Williams, the receiver would join that team’s roster and assume the responsibility of his current contract with Buffalo.

If Williams goes unclaimed he will revert to the Bills roster and be placed on injured reserve effectively ending his 2014 season.


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Bills end Manning streak

Posted by Chris Brown on December 8, 2014 – 1:45 pm

Buffalo’s defense had a solid performance Sunday holding a team that normally scores 35 points per game at home to 11 points below that average. They also brought an end to a consecutive games streak held by Peyton Manning.

Manning had thrown at least one touchdown pass in 51 straight games, but that streak came to an end Sunday as all three Denver touchdowns were scored on the ground by C.J. Anderson.

Manning shrugged off the end of the streak.

“I guess the touchdown streak, the consecutive games? That is something that—I’ve broken a lot of records and set a lot of records due to playing for a long time and playing well at times, but it’s never been something that I’ve been about,” said Manning. “So I don’t need to break or set another record. It was important to get a win. [RB] C.J. [Anderson] did a good job down there in the red zone, getting in there on those runs. Those are hard earned runs down there. It was good to improve our red zone.”

Corey Graham was glad they held Manning without a TD pass, but would’ve preferred they kept the Broncos out of the end zone altogether.

“It’s good,” said Corey Graham of holding Manning without a touchdown pass. “Obviously as a defensive group, especially DBs, you don’t want to give up any passing touchdowns so it’s good for us. But we’ve got to find ways for the defense to hold and stop them from scoring points completely.”


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