DENVER - Denver's 37-year-old quarterback set another NFL mark Monday night en route to the Broncos' 37-21 victory over the visiting Oakland Raiders.
Peyton Manning established the league record for touchdown passes in the first three games of a season previously held by New England's Tom Brady, who had 11 in the first three games of 2011. Manning did it in just 2½ games.
Manning threw his 12th TD pass on a 13-yard toss to tight end Julius Thomas late in the second quarter. At halftime Manning was 21-of-24 passing for 264 yards and three TDs.
He ended the game 32-of-37 passing for 374 yards. At one point, Manning completed 15 consecutive passes. He threw passes to eight Broncos, led by Eric Decker's 133 yards on eight catches and Demaryius Thomas' 10 receptions for 94 yards.
Decker scored on a 2-yard catch for a 7-0 lead on Denver's first drive of the game, and Manning's record-tying pass went 12 yards to Wes Welker in the second quarter for a 17-0 lead. Welker finished with seven receptions for 84 yards.
"We knew we were in a challenge, because Oakland has good cover corners. Mix up their coverage well," Manning said. "Guys did a good job getting open versus man, and finding holes in the zones. All of them did a good job running with the ball after the catch."
Manning had an NFL record-tying seven TDs in the opener against Baltimore. The NFL record for TD passes in a season is 50, which was set in 2007 by Brady; Brady finished with 39 in 2011.
In the first three games this season, Manning is 89-of-142 for 1,143 yards with no interceptions. He has been sacked four times.
The Raiders, who came into the game with a league-high nine sacks, got to Manning just once, late in the third quarter. Manning had not been sacked since the second play of the fourth quarter in the season-opener against Baltimore.
"Any inch of mistake that he sees, he's going to put the ball there and find that hole," Raiders cornerback Mike Jenkins said of Manning.
Denver finished with 536 yards of offense, including a season-high 164 yards rushing.
The Broncos' 127 points are the most by a team in its first three games since the 1968 Dallas Cowboys had 132. It is Denver's 14th consecutive regular-season win, which ties the team record set in 1997-98 (last game in '97 and the first 13 games of '98).
Minus one play, Broncos' left tackle Chris Clark did a solid job protecting Manning's blind side. With regular starter Ryan Clady out for the season because of a foot injury that needs surgery, Clark got his first start at tackle after spending most of the offseason with the first-team. Through the first three quarters Clark had little trouble against Raiders end Lamarr Houston, but Houston, a Doherty High School grad, did sack Manning and forced a fumble.
"It's always butterflies before the game. I'm sure it's like that for every guy, even the opposing team. That's just a part of football," Clark said. "But I was pretty focused. When I'm prepared, I feel like I'm going to do well."
The Raiders responded with a touchdown on a halfback pass from Darren McFadden to Marcel Reece, who beat Broncos safety Rahim Moore, to pull within 30-14 with 24 seconds left in the third quarter.
"I thought Chris did a good job from the communication standpoint," Manning said. "No miscommunication or having to call time out because he didn't know what to do. He was very sharp that way."
Clark got extra time this summer and in the preseason games because Clady was recovering from shoulder surgery and was involved in contract negotiations. Clady had started every game (82 in a row) for the Broncos since being drafted 12th overall in 2008.
Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor's ability to scramble out of the pocket didn't seem to bother the Broncos' defense, which held Oakland to three-and-out on the Raiders' first three drives and just one touchdown in the first half.
Pryor, who was making just his fourth NFL start, found a bit of a comfort zone in the second half, though, and finished with 317 total yards, including 19-of-28 passing for 281 yards. He did take a big hit from linebacker Wesley Woodyard late in the fourth quarter scrambling inside the Broncos' 10-yard line on second-and-goal.
The Raiders were stopped two plays later on fourth-and-goal from the 1 when Pryor's pass to the end zone was knocked away by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie with 5½ minutes left in the game.
The Raiders finished with 342 total yards.
Pryor came into the game with 162 yards rushing and 343 yards passing in the first two games with one TD pass and two interceptions.
Broncos' cornerback Champ Bailey again didn't play. He has not been on the field since spraining his foot in the Aug. 17 preseason game at Seattle.
"I still think we can correct some things," Manning said. "We're not looking to play the perfect game but we're looking to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. We left a couple of touchdowns out there tonight. Those are things we can fix and we're gonna need those at certain points of the season."
The Broncos (3-0) have a short week but get to stay at home with Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) coming to town Sunday. Kickoff is 2:25 p.m.
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