Some quarterbacks chuck it. Peyton Manning shot-putted the ball about 1½yards ahead to running back Willis McGahee for a long, red-zone gain that set up an easy touchdown. Arm strength? It matters to Manning about as much as socks matter to a high jumper.
Some quarterbacks fire it. Manning nestled the ball ever so gently to a wide-open Eric Decker for a second touchdown.
Arm strength? Manning don't need no stinking arm strength. Some quarterbacks wing it. Manning methodically dissects, flicks and just as the secondary starts cheating up pops the occasional deep ball to Demaryius Thomas.
Arm strength? In the Broncos' impressively easy 34-14, AFC West first-place-lifting victory against New Orleans before a sellout crowd of 76,832 and a national television audience Sunday night, Manning showed he has just enough arm strength.
But even if he didn't, Manning would dominate the game with his vision. And accuracy. If accuracy is an indicator of arm strength, Manning might as well have a bazooka.
"It's definitely an analyzed subject," Manning said. “"I think there's a lot of factors going into playing quarterback. I've had an injury. I'm a different player coming off the injury. I'm on a different team, and so I'm just working on kind of finding my way, and our team is finding our way. I keep mentioning finding our identity, and we're starting to form it."
Manning was so brilliant in performing the craft of quarterback play, he made the other superstar quarterback, Drew Brees, seem unworthy of playing on the same Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
After throwing his third touchdown pass — a pinpoint knuckler that Decker caught for a 2-yard score that followed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Thomas in the box score — early in the fourth quarter, Manning was 19-of-25 for 280 yards and a preposterous 151.7 passer rating. A simple flip to tight end Virgil Green put Manning over the 300-yard mark for a team- and personal-record fifth consecutive game.
Manning finished 22-of-30 for 305 yards and a 138.9 passer rating.
"You can see his comfort level rising," said Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, who played a terrific game. "I don't know if he could be any better than he was (with the Indianapolis Colts). But then you see how he keeps progressing and getting more comfortable. I don't know how far he can go."
But enough about Manning. He's the primary reason the Broncos moved into sole possession of first in the AFC West with a 4-3 record. But not the only. Another was the San Diego Chargers' 7-6 upset loss Sunday to the lowly Cleveland Browns.
Thus, the Broncos lead the 3-4 Chargers and Oakland Raiders by a game. One full game and seemingly miles and miles ahead. The Broncos, for the first time in years, appear to be on the verge of becoming a complete team.
On offense, Manning is playing at a supreme level not seen by a Broncos quarterback in at least 14 years. Come to think of it, did John Elway play quarterback this well?
Special teams continue to be a Broncos strength, thanks to kicker Matt Prater and punter Britton Colquitt.
What gives this Broncos team the potential to have a special season, though, is its defense. Well, Manning and the defense. Take away the New England game, when Broncos defenders couldn't line up before Tom Brady took the snap, and Denver's D has been impressive.
Brees entered this game throwing a league-best 350 yards per game while breaking every Tom, Dick, Dan (Marino) and Johnny (Unitas) passing mark in the NFL record book. With six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Brees had thrown for only 141 yards while completing just 15-of-31 passes. He finished 22-for-42 for 213 yards and two touchdowns.
"What was our plan? Play sticky man," said Broncos cornerback Chris Harris, who again started ahead of the ailing Tracy Porter."
"When you play against Denver, you know you've got a lot of man to man. We got up and challenged their receivers and tried to win our one-on-one battles."
''At halftime, the Broncos were up 17-7, a departure from so many games this year when they had to play from a large early deficit. Manning threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Decker and connected with Thomas for gains of 41 and 34 yards.
"All the deep passes are all play-action, so if you're not running the ball well there's no reason for a defense to bite on play-action,"''Manning said.
Manning hit his passing hand on the helmet of a Saints pass rusher late in the first half. Manning hit his thumb nail.
"I'm sure it'll be sore (Monday), but I feel very lucky," Manning said.
Running back Willis McGahee had 63 yards rushing with a touchdown by halftime on his way to 122. Running and passing, the Broncos were playing well.
On defense, the Broncos had Brees out of rhythm. He did find tailback and Broncos killer Darren Sproles across the middle for a flip-and-scoot 29-yard touchdown.
The play was significant because it was Brees' 300th career touchdown pass, tying him with Elway, the Broncos' former star quarterback and current front-office boss, for sixth-place all time. And it extended Brees' NFL-record touchdown pass streak to 50 games.
But otherwise, Brees was out of whack. Denver's D, woeful on third downs in the early part of the season, stopped Brees on all five of his third-down attempts.
There was a fumble by McGahee in the first half, but that will just help Broncos coach John Fox keep his players' attention during the team meetings this week.
"I'm sure the coaches will find some mistakes on the film, but it's what we were looking for, offensively, defensively and (on) special teams, kind of feeding off one another," Manning said. "It was good energy on the sidelines, and, boy, the defense, they sure did a really good job against a really good offense."
The Broncos have the quarterback. They've long had the kickers. Their defense just made Drew Brees look like Philip Rivers, not to bring up a couple of sore San Diego subjects.
Then again, why not bring up another sore San Diego subject: The Broncos are in first place.