Posted Sat Aug 4th by Monty
Seeing him on television is one thing. Seeing him in person, in uniform, in the football stadium, is another.
41,304 Denver Broncos fans would agree.
That record number of fans swarmed Sports Authority Field at Mile High to do just that — see Peyton Manning — during the team’s fourth annual Summer Scrimmage on Saturday.
“It’s unbelievable,” head coach John Fox told reporters after the practice. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything like this for this point and this type of scrimmage atmosphere. I think they (the fans) are ready for some football.”
“It was a great crowd, no question,” Manning said. “The fans were into it. Beautiful day here in Denver. The players were excited. It was a little change in the routine to get out here and into the stadium and to play in front of the crowd.”
The Broncos displayed some seven-on-seven work before undergoing team drills in the 90-minute practice. Manning took 14 snaps with the first team against the Broncos’ second-team defense, executing six running plays while going four for eight with one (near) interception and one touchdown in pass attempts.
The first team defense keyed off against the second team offense, run by Caleb Hanie and Adam Weber, later in the scrimmage.
“I thought it was good. I thought it was pretty good by both first units,” head coach John Fox said.
On the first play, Manning aimed for Demaryius Thomas deep. The pass was overthrown and incomplete, and Manning and company fell a bit out of rhythm. Danny Trevathan broke through the line for what would have been a sack on Manning on his next attempt, then David Bruton came down with a tipped ball interception a few plays later. The referee ruled that Bruton had stepped out of bounds before coming down with the ball.
“I thought we started off pretty slow offensively,” Fox said. “But once we got back in the groove of it, getting those competitive juices back, I thought we executed pretty well.”
Running back Willis McGahee‘s stiff arm down the left sideline against Drayton Florence was the catalyst to the team’s offensive turnaround. His 10-15 yard run fired up the crowd and his teammates as they crossed midfield. Immediately, you could see Manning and company get in rhythm. The future Hall of Famer hit Brandon Stokley on a short crossing route as the pocket collapsed a play later, and the offense was in gear.
Six plays and 30 yards later, Manning audibled (to the delight of the crowd), and he connected with Eric Decker on a six-yard touchdown pass in the front left corner of the end zone.
“I thought Decker’s back shoulder touchdown catch was awesome,” Manning said (full story). “It was excellent coverage by Florence, but Decker did a good job of holding his eyes until the last minute.”
Decker’s catch completed a 14-play touchdown drive executed by Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. That’s what 41,304 came to see.