Week 5 – Arizona @ Denver: Peyton Manning holds court

Sunday Oct 5. 70F (22C) perfect weather. Mile High. First NFL game in person almost 30 years after Don Lane made the sport accessible to Australians, including your correspondent.

On the turf where John Elway made his name, a man called Peyton Manning would be holding court today. Easily the most famous person in Colorado and more column inches in newspapers address his comings and goings than the
next ten most written-about people combined.

A sellout for the umpteenth time in a row, with pre-game activities including tailgating extending for miles in each direction.

While over 95% (maybe 99%) of people were in Broncos colors, the Cardinal fans (yes, there was a second team playing, the Arizona Cardinals) roamed freely and enjoyed the respect and kindness of all as per an AFL match (a visit to a Boca game in Buenos Aires in 2003 was at the opposite end of that spectrum, complete with riot police).

Oh yes, the game. After an early field goal by the Cardinals, the Broncos took the lead late in the first quarter with a touchdown. Not just any touchdown but the 500th career touchdown pass for Peyton Manning (a few more and he will be the all-time greatest).

As could be expected, the crowd clapped politely and moved on.

If you believed the last sentence please look up “irony” in the dictionary.

In terms of the response of the crowd, I had cause to regret doing a civil engineering degree in the 1980s, whereby I started wondering if the grandstand would withstand the celebrations.

This was a frequent concern through the entire game. Third downs by the Cardinals were especially loud, with extensive foot stomping to ensure, I assume, the QB could not communicate to his line.

The Broncos never lost the lead. The highlight for me was the 86-yard pass by Peyton Manning to Demaryius Thomas just before halftime.

A touchdown by the Cardinals late in the third quarter brought them within four points but it was to be as close as they got. A 17-0 final quarter to the Broncos sealed the win, made the game look not as close as it felt for the 3+ quarters and made 75,000 people very happy.

Manning also managed a career high 479 passing yards, was detained by press interviews after the game and was pretty much the last to leave the field. He waved to the 30,000 or so fans still left in the stadium and appeared to do so directly to where your correspondent was standing waving.

Regarding the Peyton Manning fan club, I’m in.

Follow up action after the game is to get to another one – the October 23 matchup with San Diego is a target. The 49ers are in town before then but tickets are reported to going at $500 a seat…

Oct 5
Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver CO (76,895)

Arizona 6 7 7 0 – 20
Denver 7 14 3 17 – 41

Passing: Peyton Manning (DEN), 479 yds, 4 TD’s, 2 INT’s
Rushing: Ronnie Hillman (DEN), 15 car, 64 yds
Receiving: Demaryius Thomas (DEN), 8 rec, 226 yds, 2 TD’s
Pigskin Almanac “Mile High” award: Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas (DEN)

(Tony McLeod filed this story from Denver, Colorado. He sent us a great photo too, but we’re pretty sure it violated the NFL’s very strict copyright regulations!)


Tony McLeod grew up in Melbourne, lives in Canberra and is spending 6 months in Colorado in 2014 where he is trying to get to as many Denver Broncos and University of Colorado Buffaloes games as possible. He is part of the generation introduced to the game by Don Lane via his elder brother.


  1. Sean Walsh says:

    Don Lane was a star on Australian TV 15 years before his NFL highlights show was introduced to ABC filling a post 11pm time slot. This at a time when I expect the ABC went to a test pattern immediately after the show ended. Strange that from his heralded career his greatest legacy may be a generation of Australians introduced to his native game. The show was part NFL 101 but also catered to the continuous nature of Australian sport by mostly showing the games in a condensed format.

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