|Date of game: 11/16/2014
Recap: St. Louis vs. Denver
St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Shaun Hill returned as the starter and helped lead the St. Louis Rams to a win over Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
How's that for a shocker?
Picked by Rams coach Jeff Fisher to start over Austin Davis, Hill passed for 220 yards and a touchdown and Greg Zuerlein kicked a career-high five field goals in Sunday's 22-7 victory.
The defense had a hand in the upset, too.
Manning was intercepted twice in the fourth quarter as the Broncos tried to pull themselves out of a hole.
"Great win. As good a game as we can play," said Fisher.
Manning played much of the game without two of his favorite targets after tight end Julius Thomas was knocked out early with an ankle injury and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders suffered a concussion on the first series of the second half.
The five-time MVP finished 34-of-54 for 389 yards and a 42-yard touchdown pass to Sanders in the second quarter.
It was only the second time the Broncos (7-3) were held under 10 points since signing Manning in 2012 -- the other instance being their 43-8 loss to Seattle in the Super Bowl.
Kansas City tied Denver for first place in the AFC West with a 24-20 win over Seattle on Sunday.
"Anytime you score seven points as an offense you feel like you let your team down," said Manning. "The defense held them to some field goals and we had some fourth downs where we got stopped. ... I didn't feel like I carried my weight today."
Hill ended 20-of-29 with a 63-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Britt, who had four catches for 128 yards -- all in the first half. Rookie Tre Mason rushed for a career-high 113 yards on 29 carries for the last-place Rams (4-6).
It was Hill's first start since Week 1, when he suffered a thigh injury in a loss to Minnesota after being named to replace the injured Sam Bradford. He was picked by Fisher to play over Davis, who committed three turnovers in the fourth quarter last week against Arizona.
"Last week was not easy but the theme was to keep doing what we were doing and that's what we did," said Fisher.
The Broncos played their third straight road game with a running back rotation of C.J. Anderson and Montee Ball with Ronnie Hillman (foot) expected to be out a couple of weeks. Ball returned from a groin injury but limped off after dropping a pass early in the second quarter and didn't play another down. Anderson had nine carries for 29 yards and eight catches for 86.
The Rams took a 16-7 lead on Zuerlein's third field goal of the game, a 22- yarder with 1:41 remaining in the third quarter.
Manning was under pressure from cornerback E.J. Gaines when his pass intended for tight end Jacob Tamme was intercepted near midfield by linebacker Alec Ogletree on the first play of the fourth.
That set up Zuerlein's 55-yard kick for a 19-7 lead with 12 minutes left in the game.
The Rams then sacked Manning on fourth down from the St. Louis 28 and Trumaine Johnson intercepted him on the Broncos' next possession, leading to Zuerlein's 53-yard field goal for the final margin.
"Obviously we were facing one of the best teams in the league so we knew we were going to have to play well in order to win and everybody stepped up for sure," said Hill. "But I think the more telling thing is coach Fisher gave everybody on the team the game ball."
Hill had a 33-yard pass to Britt on an 11-play drive to open the game that ended in Zuerlein's 37-yard field goal.
His 63-yard touchdown pass to Britt with 1:10 remaining in the first quarter was right on the money over the middle of the field, hitting the veteran in stride past cornerback Bradley Roby.
Zuerlein kicked a 29-yarder late in the second quarter to make it 13-0.
Meanwhile, Manning seemed to struggle with his accuracy and timing and the league's third-ranked offense was shut out until he found Sanders behind two defenders for a 42-yard touchdown with 2:22 remaining in the first half.
Sanders was stretching for Manning's overthrown pass near the right sideline in the third quarter when he was hit hard by Rodney McLeod, who was whistled for two penalties even though replays showed he made shoulder-to-shoulder contact.
Thomas, who leads the league with 12 receiving touchdowns, left the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury.Game Notes
Sanders has five catches for 102 yards and Demaryius Thomas added seven grabs
for 103 in the loss ... The Broncos play Miami next Sunday in their first home
game since Oct. 23 and the Rams go back on the road to play San Diego ... Hill
caught his own pass for no gain in the second quarter after the throw was
batted back to him by defensive end Malik Jackson. It was the quarterback's
first career reception ... Broncos wide receiver Andre Caldwell was also
shaken up on a hit to the chest by Rams safety T.J. McDonald in the fourth