OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – With one sterling half, Peyton Manning accomplished all he needed to in the regular-season finale by seizing another prestigious record and home-field advantage in the playoffs.
He knows his next time out probably won’t be so easy.
Manning set the NFL single-season record for yards passing and threw four first-half touchdown passes to clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs for the Broncos with a 34-14 victory over Oakland on Sunday.
“This was a good game today,” Manning said. “We needed this win. We needed to improve on some things. The coaches challenged us in a couple of areas and I think we responded to those challenges.”
The Broncos (13-3) were nearly perfect in building a 31-0 halftime lead before coach John Fox gave Manning and some other regulars the second half off to rest.
Manning threw touchdown passes to Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno in the first quarter and added two to Demaryius Thomas in the second quarter. He broke Drew Brees’ record of 5,476 yards set in 2011 with a 5-yard pass to Thomas with 13 seconds left in the half to make it 31-0.
That ended Manning’s day having completed 25 of 28 passes for 266 yards. He finished the season with 5,477 yards and 55 touchdown passes.
“The first half was about as good in all three phases as we’ve been all year,” coach John Fox said. “It allowed us to get some guys out of the game and rest them and still take care of business on the field.”
The Raiders (4-12) ended their 11th straight non-winning season with six consecutive losses and big questions about the future of second-year coach Dennis Allen. Oakland has won eight games in Allen’s two seasons but after showing signs of progress early this season, regressed down the stretch to put his job in jeopardy.
Allen said he expects to meet in the next few days with general manager Reggie McKenzie and owner Mark Davis to discuss the future of the organization.