Videos: Von Miller, Broncos D make Carolina's Cam Newton their bitch
Manning still had impressive numbers: 27 completions in 38 attempts for 301 yards and a touchdown to Brandon Stokely on a brilliantly designed misdirection play. But there were also a number of drops, including one by Eric Decker, who badly misplayed what would have been a huge gain, as well as an inopportune Manning fumble that, fortunately, wound up causing no damage; it came shortly before Carter's theft.
Speaking of fumbles, though, Willis McGahee coughed up the ball not once but twice -- and while he recovered the second of these himself, the frequency with which he's losing the handle this season amplifies the legitimate concerns previously voiced about his ability to grip the pigskin. To put it mildly, a ten-year veteran shouldn't have as much trouble retaining possession as does McGahee, and if he keeps up this habit, he's going to wind up on the bench no matter how effective a runner he's been.
No game ball for Willis McGahee -- because he'd probably drop it.
It's a sad statement that late in the game, when possession was a must, Coach John Fox, wanting to enjoy his return to Carolina as much as possible, turned to rookie Ronnie Hillman rather than McGahee. Hillman was rewarded by racking up his first NFL touchdown -- and he'll get even more if the man currently occupying the starting position doesn't become a more reliable football caretaker.
In this case, though, McGahee's fumble-itis had little impact on the outcome -- and that's thanks largely to Miller. Commentator Phil Simms noted that he'd never seen Von play a better game, which makes sense, since he keeps getting better and better. The speed with which he moves made one Panthers lineman after another look like he was wearing concrete shoes, and his flair for the dramatic has clearly inspired the entire Broncos defensive unit. He's a very different kind of star than Manning, but one just as important to Denver's hopes of not only making the playoffs but going on the sort of deep run that fans in these parts began envisioning the second Peyton signed on the line that is dotted.
Look below to see a post-game interview with Miller and Wesley Woodyard, courtesy of CBS4, plus footage of Carter's score and an ESPN analysis of the game as a whole.
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