Titans can't slow down Broncos in 51-28 loss

By ARNIE STAPLETON - AP Pro Football Writer
    2013-12-08 22:00

DENVER (AP) - It was cold enough for Mike Munchak. Just not windy or wet like he had hoped.

Tennessee's coach was pining for the wild, wintry weather that hit so many other NFL cities Sunday because he figured that would slow down Peyton Manning and Denver's high-octane offense.

But that system had already moved through Denver, which is still stuck in a deep freeze.

It was clear and cold - 18 degrees at kickoff, about half that by game's end, when the Broncos walked off 51-28 winners, having become the first team since the 1969 Minnesota Vikings to top 50 points three times in a season.

Even the cold couldn't prevent Matt Prater from setting an NFL record with a 64-yard field goal as the first half expired, pulling the Broncos to 21-20 at halftime and giving them momentum for a second-half onslaught that buried the Titans (5-8), who had lost by double-digits just once all season.

''Even when we are coming here, I didn't really think that cold weather would affect the game unless it was backed up by heavy wind or gusts or something that would create issues with throwing the football or kicking the football,'' Munchak said.

''When you play those games when it's wet, and obviously with it being this cold, we knew this game wouldn't be that way, so I don't know if the game was affected at all by the weather.''

Manning sure wasn't.

He completed 39 of 59 passes for 397 yards and four touchdowns. His 39 completions were a Broncos franchise record and one shy of his career best set against Houston in 2010.

Manning also became the first quarterback in nine years to throw at least four TD passes with the temperature below 20 degrees and the first player in five years to throw for at least 390 yards in sub-20 degree weather.

So much for the notion that the four-time MVP crumbles in the cold.

''They were in rhythm,'' Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner said. ''Peyton was throwing the ball on the money. For the most part it seemed like we were in good, tough coverage but you have to give them kudos, they were making plays. We were hanging in there and playing well in the beginning, but then they just took off like a rocket.''

The Titans jumped to a 21-10 lead on Shonn Greene's TD runs of 1 and 28 yards sandwiched around Chris Johnson's 3-yard run.

''I thought the guys came out with a lot of excitement and passion to play a good football team in a tough spot to win,'' Munchak said. ''I thought we came out and made some plays early, especially on offense.''

It didn't last. Manning took over and the Broncos (11-2) outscored Tennessee 41-7.

Ryan Fitzpatrick was held to 13 completions, 172 yards and one TD. He was also intercepted by defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, one of two turnovers by the Titans.

''We knew coming in to this game we were going to have to put the pedal to the medal all game long,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''Even though we had a lead in the first half, we knew they were going to put a lot of points up in the second half. We've seen them do that a lot this year.

''Obviously, with number 18 on the other side being the player he is and the offense they run, we knew it would have to be an error-free game for us. The two turnovers gave him two extra possessions. That's not a good thing when you're playing against him.''

Manning threw TD passes to each of his four big targets: Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Eric Decker. Knowshon Moreno ran for 78 yards and Montee Ball gained 77.

''It was cold outside but it wasn't the conditions that you saw on the East Coast with the snow and the different conditions,'' Titans safety Michael Griffin said. ''It was a cold game, but it was easy to catch the ball, it was easy to throw the ball.''

At least for the Broncos.

NOTES: Tennessee WR Kenny Britt was a healthy inactive. ... Munchak said there were no injuries of note.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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