Unless they meet again in the postseason, this was the last Manning Bowl.
No less an authority than Peyton Manning says so, and why not: Peyton is 3-0 against younger brother Eli in regular-season games after Denver’s 41-23 rout Sunday of the New York Giants.
“I think both of us are glad that it’s over with,” Peyton said after throwing for two touchdowns. “Postseason is one thing, but I don’t think I’ll make it to the next regular-season [meeting, in four years]. I think this’ll be the end of it. So I’ll be happy about that. And the family will.”
Big brother didn’t need another record-tying seven touchdown passes. He got this win with a huge boost from Knowshon Moreno, who rushed for two touchdowns and 93 yards on just 13 carries. Denver (2-0), which has won 13 straight regular-season games, ran for 109 yards altogether.
With Manning finding Wes Welker and Julius Thomas for touchdowns, and Moreno scoring on sprints down the right side, Denver dominated much of the matchup between Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks; Eli has won two titles, Peyton one. The older Manning’s first two victories against his sibling came when Peyton was with the Colts.
“For me, it’s a strange feeling,” Peyton said. “It’s not quite as enjoyable as if you beat somebody else.”
Peyton finished 30-for-43 for 307 yards with no interceptions. Eli was 28-for-39 for 362 yards, but was picked off four times; he had 15 interceptions all of last season, and has seven already this year.
After the rout, the brothers shared a very short handshake while surrounded by a mob of photographers and TV cameras. They had exchanged their greetings before the kickoff.
“We chatted for 10 minutes, nothing specific, just brotherly talk,” Eli said. “After that, there wasn’t a whole lot of brotherly interaction.”
The Giants also allowed Trindon Holliday’s spectacular 81-yard punt return for a touchdown, the first such score in the league this season.
Peyton, who became the third player over 60,000 career yards passing on Denver’s opening drive, connected with a wide-open Welker for a two-yard score that gave the Broncos a 17-9 lead. But little brother took New York 81 yards in response, although the drive was built more on Broncos blunders — four penalties, including two for pass interference — than Manning magic.
There was plenty of Moreno magic on Denver’s next series, when he again surged around right end to almost duplicate his earlier 20-yard scoring run with a 25-yarder. Considered a backup heading toward the season, New Jersey native Moreno was virtually the entire running game for the Broncos on Sunday — and he made the difference.
“I feel the same every game, always amped up and real emotional,” he said. “You just got to go out and play.”
Peyton Manning also hit Thomas for an 11-yard score as Denver pulled away in the second half after leading, 10-9, at halftime. Da’Rel Scott took a short pass 23 yards for a TD for New York to conclude the Giants’ scoring.
“It’s very disappointing, frustrating . . . the whole point is we have to hang in there,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “We have 14 games to go. We have been 0-2 before. We dug ourselves into a hole
before, and have been able to fight our way out of it. When we did, it was with the team, but the performance level has to come up.”
The sloppy first half was marred by eight dropped passes on both sides, including three by Welker. The biggest drop, though, came on a running play when rookie Montee Ball fumbled at the New York three to ruin Denver’s drive from its seven on the opening series.
Eli Manning then led his team 62 yards — 51 on a pass to Victor Cruz — and Josh Brown made a 36-yard field goal.
Brown added kicks of 24 and 41 yards in the first half.