DENVER -- Poisonous messages laced the Broncos' insatiable quest for peak performance.
The toxins first leaked in from the wise guys in Las Vegas who made the Broncos a whopping 26 1/2-point favorites on gameday.
The given was the Broncos would beat the Jacksonville Jaguars. The question was at what point in the game the Broncos would cover.
The Broncos did win. Even if they may have played one of their worst games and Jacksonville played one of its best, the Broncos had enough margin for error to prevail, 35-19, on a perfectly cool fall afternoon Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
But they didn't win.
Peyton Manning threw two early touchdown passes to set another NFL record, and Knowshon Moreno set a personal record with three second-half touchdown runs.
The Broncos improved to 6-0 as expected. The Jaguars fell to 0-6 as every breathing human presumed. What surprised many, however, was the Broncos had to sweat. Far as the gamblers who took Jacksonville and the points are concerned, the Broncos got whipped.
Do you believe in gimmes?
Not in the NFL. The Broncos entered this game with a 5-0 record, averaging 46.0 points a game. Jacksonville was 0-5 having scored 51 points all year.
The virus attacking the Broncos ability to execute spread during the week with the conversation from the left side of the radio dial to the right. There was so much chatter as to what point Peyton Manning would be pulled with victory assured.
The odds were stacked against the Broncos, funny enough, in their quest to play their best game.
Whenever supposed mismatches become competitive, though, turnovers committed by the heavy favorite are usually a factor. Manning gave the Jaguars six points on a pick six and lost two fumbles on the snap exchange with center Manny Ramirez.
Midway through the third quarter, when there were projections of Manning's departure, the Broncos were only up, 21-19.
Early on, the Broncos fed into their overconfidence by taking a relatively easy 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Manning threw a touchdown pass to Julius Thomas on his first drive and a second scoring strike to Wes Welker to finish the Broncos' second possession.
It gave Manning 22 touchdown passes on the season, the most ever by an NFL quarterback through six games. Manning has set or tied a league record through every game this season. He had seven touchdown passes to set the one-game mark; nine to tie the second-game record; then established new bests with 12 touchdown passes through three games; 16 through four; 20 through five and 22 through six.
He takes that unprecedented prolific start into game 7 next week at Indianapolis, where he spent the first 14 seasons of his terrific career.
Manning can go home again, so long as he doesn't take Sunday's second quarter with him. In the quarter, Manning fumbled a snap exchange from Ramirez. There were two three and outs. Manning threw a pass into the middle part of a Jacksonville zone where linebacker Paul Posluzny rambling and cutting past the fallen Broncos quarterback before completing his 59-yard return.
Midway through the third quarter, Manning was not pulled because victory was secure. It was 21-19 Broncos.
But off days for Manning are not so bad. A 42-yard catch-and-run to Demaryius Thomas late in the third quarter was a big play in the Broncos' finishing off an 80-yard touchdown drive to go up 28-19.
Manning and Demaryius Thomas connected for a 31-yard completion that set up a final touchdown in the fourth quarter.
And that was that. The contamination of overconfidence has been fumigated. It's on to Manning's new team against Manning's former team.