Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 11/12/12
The Denver Broncos are playing at a high level, one big reason is the rejuvenation and comeback of All-Pro quarterback Peyton Manning.Coach John Fox has molded cohesiveness and unity as the Broncos have cemented themselves squarely in the conversation for elite teams in the AFC.On Sunday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, the Broncos wanted to give a little something back to their leader in command - in the form of a victory against Coach Fox's former team who fired him after nine seasons.The result was a 36-14 pasting by the Broncos over the Panthers, that provided another measuring stick of how good Denver can be.The Hero of the Game is awarded to the Denver Broncos defense, who made life miserable for the Panthers and in particular Carolina quarterback Cam Newton all game long. The Denver Broncos' defense pressured Newton all afternoon, and collected seven sacks to go with numerous knockdowns and continued harassment throughout the game.Denver's defense combines a solid defensive line, that puts pressure on the opposing team with relentless effort and solid play; lead in large part to their outstanding linebacker Von Miller.Miller, combined with defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson, cornerback Chris Harris, and the rest of the Broncos defensive to limit the Panthers to 52 yards rushing all game. Cam Newton didn't have a particularly great game either, Denver intercepted Newton twice along with the aforementioned seven sacks.Even when Carolina tried mixing up their blocking schemes, or rolling Newton out of the pocket to get more success in the passing game - nothing worked. Hats off to the Denver defense!The Zero of the Game is awarded to the Carolina Panthers running game. A paltry 52 yards combined was all the Panthers could muster against the Broncos on Sunday. Jonathan Stewart rushed for 31 yards, Cam Newton rushed for seven yards, and both DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert had six yards rushing. Throw in two yards from wide receiver Steve Smith and there are your 52 yards for the game.Definitely a disappointment for the Panthers, in terms of their run production on Sunday. In the NFL a running attack is vital to ensure balance and productivity when implementing a game plan. If there is no consistent running game, nor really a threat of the run; defenses can pin their ears back and attack the quarterback at will.Cam Newton can be a game-changer when he scrambles out of the pocket and makes his way down field - but on Sunday Denver was not going to allow him to be a runner. The Broncos took away his legs and dared Newton to beat them with his arm; which did not happen and Denver ended up routing the Panthers before a disappointed crowd in Charlotte.  
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