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Mile High Sports

Broncos 36, Panthers 14: Going by the numbers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Notable numbers in the wake of the Broncos’ fourth consecutive victory, a 36-14 pounding of the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium here Sunday:

7: Number of sacks by the Broncos, the most for the franchise since Oct. 12, 2003 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were quarterbacked by the Broncos’ 1992 first-round pick, Tommy Maddox.

55: The number of sacks the Broncos will amass this year if they sustain their current pace of 3.4 per game. That would be the second-most in Broncos history, surpassed only by the 1984 total of 57.

0.0: It’s no longer just the G.P.A. of John “Bluto” Blutarsky — or the single-game QB rating for Randy Fasani, a one-game starting quarterback for John Fox midway through the 2002 season in Carolina — but the percentage of third downs the Panthers converted against the Broncos’ defense Sunday.

Carolina went 0-for-12, in large part because the Broncos consistently forced them into third-and-long situations. Six of their 12 third-down attempts were from 10 yards or more from the line to gain, just four were less than five yards and the average was 8.92 yards.

Denver’s opponents have gone just 6-of-38 on third downs the last three weeks (15.8 percent); in the Broncos’ first six games, they converted 45.6 percent of their third downs (41-of-90).

Minus-12: Carolina’s yardage on its 12 third-down plays Sunday.

0.0 (redux): Cam Newton’s third-down quarterback rating Sunday (he went 1-of-5 for 8 yards with an interception; he was also sacked four times for 20 yards in losses on third down, but that doesn’t factor into his rating).

7.0 catches, 88.5 yards, 1.75 touchdowns: The average per-game numbers for the last four primary tight ends the Broncos have faced: San Diego’s Antonio Gates, New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham, Cincinnati’s Jermaine Gresham and Carolina’s Greg Olsen. Olsen scored twice and had 102 yards on nine catches Sunday to lead the Panthers; he single-handedly accounted for more than half of the Panthers’ 198 net passing yards.

72.4: Percentage of teams with exactly six wins after nine games to have made the playoffs since the league was expanded to 32 teams in 2012. Two of the teams were on the rotten side of that percentage were the Broncos in 2002 (started 6-3, finished 9-7) and in 2009 (finished 8-8).

3:36: Time left on the clock when Peyton Manning hit Demaryius Thomas for a 46-yard pass down the seam to the right side Sunday. There was some justification for it; the Broncos were up two scores, and if it were intercepted, it would have effectively functioned as a well-placed punt. Nevertheless, the pass was a statement of wanting a decisive win, and not merely settling for good enough. It also allowed Manning to surpass the 300-yard mark for the fifth time in his last six games; he finished the day with 301 yards.

22: Number of road games the Broncos had played before Sunday without winning by more than 14 points. Denver’s last road win that was at least as resounding as Sunday’s 22-point thumping was a 44-13 thrashing of the Chiefs on Dec. 6, 2009. It’s not that the Broncos were hopeless in the games that followed on the road; their 8-14 away mark from after that game through last weekend wasn’t great, but wasn’t much worse than a 9-13 record at home. But the Broncos’ last eight road wins before this week were by an average of 6.9 points, including five by seven points or less.

3: Number of Broncos to return a kickoff and a punt return for a touchdown in the same season. Al Frazier (1961) and Eddie Royal (2009) were the others. Royal, of course, accomplished that in the same game at San Diego three years ago.

0: Years in which the Broncos scored on a kickoff return, punt return, fumble return and interception return in the same season. This isn’t an exceptionally rare occurrence league-wide; two teams accomplished this last year. But it is rare to hit these marks after nine games — particularly when the man responsible for scoring in two areas wasn’t on the team the first month of the regular season.

420: Number of touchdown passes in Peyton Manning’s career, which ties him with Dan Marino for second in league history. Of course, at least one writer opined that the timing of this milestone was perfect relative to a local news item:

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