Through five weeks, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning hasn't been perfect, far from it, but he hasn't had to be perfect. The Broncos themselves are now 5-0 on the season after beating the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, and the game showcased a recurring theme for Denver early in the season: defense winning the day.
Going into Sunday, the Broncos led the NFL in total defense, allowing the fewest yards in the league. They've allowed the fewest passing yards, and the 10th-least rushing yards, and ultimately have given Manning and the offense plenty of breathing room.
Denver's defense stepped up big time. They held the Raiders to just 65 total rushing yards despite 25 carries, and also managed an interception of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. That interception was grabbed by Chris Harris, who proceeded to take it 74 yards for a touchdown. It came when the Broncos were leading by less than a field goal, and it made it a multi-score game.
The pass defense is playing so well because the pass rush has been excellent assisting them. Going into Sunday, the Broncos led the league with 18 sacks, and they added another four of them against the Raiders. Von Miller had an impressive sack in which he forced and recovered a fumble on Carr.
Denver's defense is allowing an average of just over 15 points per game. They had the second most sacks in the NFL, 18, coming into this game, and added another four to their total.
One concern for the Broncos defense going forward: the injury to DeMarcus Ware. He left the game in the second quarter and did not return this week because of a back injury. The extent of his injury isn't known, but Ware was on a ferocious pace so far this season, a candidate for the Defensive Player of the Year already.
In Sunday's game against the Raiders, Manning wasn't just "less than perfect," he played poorly enough to be the primary target of blame had the Broncos lost the game. He completed 22 of 35 passes for 266 yards with no touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Charles Woodson had Manning's number on Sunday, snaring both of the interceptions.
You should absolutely question what's going on with Manning, and the offense will need to improve if the Broncos are to be the elite team they've been in recent seasons, but for now the defense is carrying them as far as they need to go.