Broncos' effective running game makes Peyton Manning that much tougher to deal with

Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno (no. 27)

Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno (no. 27) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of a game against the Giants. (Sept. 15, 2013) (Credit: AP)

It wasn't so much that the Broncos' running game killed the Giants' defense in a 41-23 rout Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

It was that the Broncos had Peyton Manning and an effective running game.

Manning, who passed for 307 yards and two touchdowns, and running back Knowshon Moreno, who carried 13 times for 93 yards and two TDs, were the definition of a lethal combination.

The Giants' defense stymied Manning, for the most part, in the first half, but Denver gained a 10-9 lead on the strength of a 20-yard scoring run around right end by Moreno.

After the Giants again pulled within a point late in the third quarter, Manning moved the Broncos right down the field, and they took control on a 25-yard run by Moreno on the same play for a 24-16 lead with 25 seconds remaining in the quarter. That opened the floodgates.

"The first half, they didn't run the ball well," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. "They made some adjustments as far as how they blocked a certain scheme on us and exploited it. The two long runs were huge for them and backbreakers for us.

"You can't give Peyton or a quality quarterback the opportunity to run and pass. You've got to shut them down on at least one. I thought we did in the first half. We put the ball in his hands to make a play, and they didn't make a lot. The second half, he got that running game going, and as a defense, you start playing on your heels. And when you're not playing aggressive against a team with that much talent, you're shooting yourself in the foot."

To be sure, the Giants were the victims of a freakish turnover early in the fourth quarter when Denver intercepted a deflected pass. The Giants also forced a fumble that they gave right back before the play ended.

Give Manning that many opportunities, and he'll carve up any defense.

"He's one of the best to ever do it," Tuck said. "He figures out ways to get his offense in the right play most of the time."

The Giants' pass rush did not sack Manning.

"It's hard to rush Peyton," Tuck said. "We got pressure in spots, but I doubt there was a lot of time where he held the ball more than three seconds. That's frustrating. After a while, you almost stop rushing a little bit. It's hard to get to him, but we've got to do better at that, too."

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