ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) If there's one thing Peyton Manning's been watching longer than game film, it's the 1976 classic ''Bad News Bears.''
So, it was no surprise Wednesday when he quoted one of his favorite films when a reporter tried to highlight two precision passes the league's 18th-rated passer on the NFL's 30th-ranked offense threw last weekend at Detroit.
''I feel like we're getting so desperate here,'' Manning said. ''I had these good throws. It almost reminds me of the Bad News Bears where Buttermaker was trying to encourage his team. They're really, really bad. And he asked whoever kept the stats, I can't remember if it was Rudi ...''
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It was actually Alfred Ogilvie, the benchwarmer and sabermetrician-to-be who memorized baseball statistics and assisted coach Morris Buttermaker with defensive strategy while avoiding playing first base and the outfield.
But Manning remembered the dialogue if not who delivered it.
Buttermaker ''said, `Come on guys, give them the stats. Look on the bright side: two of our runners have almost reached first base and we did hit 17 foul balls. That's the spirit,'' Manning recounted.
''Well, two good throws in there, I'll take it. I'll take it.''
Manning's offense is a mess and yet the Broncos are 3-0 after beating three teams that made the playoffs last year - Baltimore at home and Kansas City and Detroit on the road.
The Broncos are 31st in the league at running the ball and 18th at throwing it while they adapt to a new offensive line and new coaching staff, not to mention a quarterback who's 39 - older than any QB who's ever won the Super Bowl.
Manning's passer rating of 83.3 is 24.5 points lower than his average since coming to Denver in 2012.
It's been downright ugly on offense for Denver with sacks, pressures, hurries, knock-downs, tackles for loss, negative runs, pick-6s. So, the Broncos have had to rely on a solid special teams and terrific defense to go with some clutch fourth-quarter drives directed by Manning to stay unbeaten heading into Sunday's showdown against Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings (2-1) in Denver.
''Hey, I love it,'' Manning said. ''I'm just going to keep trying to hit foul balls and almost reach first base. Maybe we'll get on base at some point and get going.''
Notes: Coach Gary Kubiak said he hopes to see LT Ty Sambrailo (shoulder) back on the field Thursday. ... RB Juwan Thompson (neck) was back at practice Wednesday but RG Louis Vasquez and Manning had the day off and LG Evan Mathis (hamstring) was limited.
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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton