ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) – The numbers loom large this weekend for Peyton Manning: Three more yards to break Brett Favre’s career passing record and one more victory to surpass Favre as the NFL’s all-time winningest quarterback.
Here’s a more puzzling figure, though: 13. That’s how many times the Denver Broncos’ typically accurate passer has been picked off this season. He’s on pace to throw 26 interceptions, which would be his highest total since his first year with Indy in 1998 when he threw 28, a record for rookies.
The Kansas City Chiefs (3-5) don’t see anything close to a vulnerable Manning on Sunday, even if he has thrown an interception in every game so far.
“It’s Peyton Manning. He’s going to be good no matter what,” Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston said. “And they’re winning. So it doesn’t matter. Those interceptions haven’t interfered with their game.”
Some of Manning’s errant throws can be chalked up to simple misreads as he masters coach Gary Kubiak‘s intricate system. He’s struggled to look off linebackers and safeties, who’ve accounted for nine of his interceptions. He’s also operating behind a banged-up offensive line and his receivers have had their issues as they’ve dropped more than a dozen passes.
And there’s always this: He’s a 39-year-old who’s had neck fusion surgery.
“Peyton’s good in whatever offense you put him in,” said Kansas City coach Andy Reid, whose team surrendered two TDs in a nine-second span to fall 31-24 to Manning and the Broncos on Sept. 17. “That’s just how he is.”
Last weekend in Indy, Manning overthrew tight endand was intercepted by Mike Adams. Later, with six minutes remaining, he missed Demaryius Thomas over the middle and was picked off by a diving Darius Butler. From there, the Colts ran out the clock for a 27-24 win over Denver (7-1).
“He’s definitely gotten us in the right play way more times than he’s made mistakes,” said Daniels. “With the grasp he has of this offense, and (his ability to read) the defenses, he’s able to get us in the best play possible. He’s always gotten us in the right situation.”
Manning insists the records aren’t on his mind. He’s tied with Favre in regular season wins (186) and needs just three yards to break Favre’s mark of 71,838.
“It means something,” Daniels said. “I think he probably wants to get it past him, so he doesn’t have to talk about it anymore.”
And Daniels wouldn’t mind being the one helping him break it, either. Over his career, Manning has dished out passes to 88 receivers, with Marvin Harrison leading the list (953 catches).
“Catching passes from him is awesome as it is, but to be on the other end of a record? That would be pretty special,” said Daniels, who’s hauled in 23 passes from No. 18. “He’s thrown the ball to so many guys for so long, I almost feel like I’d be stealing it if I took it. But I’ll take it if it happens.”
Manning appeared on the injury list Wednesday with a bum foot as he sat out practice. Asked if he were concerned, Manning retorted: “You got some action on this game? … Everybody is trying to get better, trying to get healthy.”
Kubiak doesn’t see it as an issue, either. He said Manning’s foot has been bothering him for a couple of weeks and was aggravated by playing at Indianapolis last weekend.
“It’s just really sore coming off the turf,” Kubiak said.
Kubiak believes Manning’s foot will be fine. And Manning will feel even better if he has his first interception-free game of the season.
“You can get hot not turning the ball over and go a long period of time, too,” Kubiak said. “We need to do that.”
NOTES: DL Malik Jackson is the team’s nominee for the “Salute to Service Award presented by USAA.” It’s given to the league member who demonstrates commitment to supporting the military community. The finalists for the award will be announced in January.
– By Pat Graham, AP Sports Writer
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