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By John McMullen, NFL Editor - Archive - Email
Manning is all business
Peyton Manning The numbers Peyton Manning piles up on a weekly basis are almost mind-numbing.
Philadelphia, PA ( - Peyton Manning is revered by millions of NFL fans but those same enthusiasts who worship at the altar of perhaps the greatest quarterback in league history probably wouldn't want to invite him to their next party.

Believe it or not, part of Peyton's greatness stems from the fact that he is no fun.

Eli's big brother is all football, all the time and we saw evidence of that yet again in his latest impressive performance, a three-touchdown effort during the Broncos' 35-21 drubbing of AFC West rival San Diego on Thursday night.

Manning, the reigning and five-time NFL MVP who broke Brett Favre's record for most career touchdown passes last Sunday against San Francisco, was back it just four days later against Philip Rivers and the Chargers, completing 25- of-35 passes for 286 yards and three touchdowns to bring his career TD total to 513.

Emmanuel Sanders was Manning's favorite target this week, snaring nine passes for 120 yards and all three TDs for the 6-1 Broncos, who matched Dallas for the NFL's best record, pending the Cowboys Monday night matchup against Washington.

"Every week we don't know where the ball is going to go," Sanders admitted. "The defense really dictates that and what Peyton is seeing. And tonight was just my night."

Next week it may be back to Demaryius Thomas or Julius Thomas or Wes Welker or anyone else suiting up at a skill position for Denver.

By this point the numbers Manning piles up on a weekly basis are almost mind-numbing and quickly forgotten in an offensively-driven league where records have to be written in pencil with the intent on erasing them sooner rather than later.

Manning's real greatness is only defined by those who truly watch him. He was at the height of his skills early in the third quarter against the Chargers with the ball at the San Diego 19-yard line, just inside the red zone.

Manning used one of his famous hard counts in an effort to either get the Chargers D to jump offsides or declare its intention on the play. San Diego showed enough discipline to avoid a penalty but foreshadowed an overload blitz on Manning's front side.

The veteran quarterback calmly checked to a quick pass to Ronnie Hillman in the flat, on the opposite side of the oncoming pass rushers and the running back beat a defender in space before waltzing into the end zone for what looked like a 19-yard score.

Replays showed Hillman actually stepped out of bounds at the 3-yard line and the play ended up as a footnote to one of Sanders' TD catches, in which the ex-Steeler was the third progression on the play by the way.

Few quarterbacks in this era or any other for that matter can step to the line of scrimmage, survey the defense and almost always get his team into the right play. That ability, more than all the passing yards and TD passes, truly defines Manning.

And that skill isn't about arm strength or athleticism, it's about work ethic and preparation.

Manning is all business all the time and you saw his mentality in the fourth quarter when the video board operator in Denver morphed into party DJ, imploring the crowd to have some fun during the Broncos' latest blowout.

The Rockies' version of Samantha Ronson flashed alternating images of Rivers and Manning, causing the crowd to ping-pong between hearty boos and wild cheers.

Even Rivers was amused.

"I really don't know how to respond to that," the Chargers Pro-Bowl QB said. "Other than if you had told me when I was 10 years old they would show me in front of 75,000 and get booed, and Peyton Manning in the same clip and get cheered, I'd say that's pretty awesome."

Manning had a different take.

"I have no problem with our fans. Our fans are great. I've got a problem with our scoreboard operator," Manning opined. "I'm gonna have a little talk with him. I'm not sure what he's doing.

"He was playing music, showing people -- showing players dancing, getting the crowd fired up while we had the ball. I don't think we should be doing that. I don't think we should be showing their quarterback on the sideline. I thought that was kind of disrespectful. Our fans are great, our fans are loud, so the scoreboard operators ... it wasn't his best night."

And that more than anything else explains Peyton -- when you're celebrating the win, he's already thinking about the next one.

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