“I really enjoy working with the young receivers,” Manning said. “We’re learning each other and I’m still feeling my way out, but they’re buying in.”
Exhibit A: Manning’s one-yard touchdown pass to Thomas with 9:30 left in the third quarter, which gave the Broncos a 24-7 lead. The play was installed weeks ago by Manning in practice: Thomas, lined up to the left, begins what appears to be a fade route, then abruptly breaks it off and runs a quick out to the side of the end zone.
“When we first ran it in practice, it was against [future Hall of Fame cornerback] Champ Bailey,” Thomas recalled. “He said, ‘Man, that’s an unstoppable route.’ When I hear Champ Bailey say that, it gets my attention.” Unsurprisingly, Saints cornerback Johnny Patrick couldn’t stop it.
“Hey,” Thomas said, “we had one play that worked that [Manning] put in [during] this game.”
"Hey guys, do you think this is a good play?"
"I don't know. Let's see if Champ can stop it."
"Well, well, well, look what we've got here."