In the end, it was ugly. A 41-20 loss is not what the Arizona Cardinals had in mind. But after a 3-0 start to the season, the Cardinals just didn't have enough answers or depth, despite getting as close as 24-20 in the second half before the wheels fell off.
Here is what we learned from the loss:
Arizona's defense does have limits
The Cardinals lost defensive end Calais Campbell with a knee injury. Cornerback and special teams ace Justin Bethel left the game for a time. Cornerback Patrick Peterson was lost in the second half with an ankle injury.
The depth was tested and the lack of a pass rush was exploited. Frostee Rucker sacked Peyton Manning once, but that was about it in term of pressure. The result was a career game from Manning. He threw for 479 yards and four touchdowns.
Demaryius Thomas abused Antonio Cromartie, catching eight passes for 226 yards and two scores, including an 86-yarder.
Julius Thomas made sure that the tight end problem the Cardinals defense has had was still an issue. He caught six passes for 66 yards and two scores.
Logan Thomas is both exciting and not ready
The Cardinals had to turn to rookie Logan Thomas when Drew Stanton left the game with a concussion. The result was expected. He looked lost. He also made one throw that was electrifying.
Logan's line was bad -- 1/8 for 81 yards and a score. But, oh, that score.
He threw the ball into the tightest of windows to catch Andre Ellington in stride on the sideline between two defenders. Ellington did the rest and pulled the Cardinals within four points on the 81-yard play.
The thing is that Thomas never should have made that throw. The fact he could make it is amazing. The fact he did is scary. He was sacked multiple times and, other than that throw, showed what many believe him to be -- a cannon-armed, inaccurate thrower.
But you saw the potential.
Ted Ginn is hurting the football team
He won the Cardinals a game with his punt return touchdown against the Giants, but he has not done much else. He muffed a punt that should have been a turnover, were it not for Earl Watford's stealing the ball back in the pile. He dropped two passes and slipped and fell on his one end around attempt.
Arizona isn't quite elite
They were in the game much later than people expected because of the Thomas to Ellington play, but the game proved that the Cardinals are not a great team...yet.
Yes, they were without their starting quarterback and then they lost their backup. Yes, they lost their two best defensive players during the game, but they couldn't contain Denver and they couldn't keep up offensively.
They are a good team, but they are a notch below the Broncos and Seahawks right now. That doesn't mean they won't be postseason material, but they have a ways to go still.
Cards WRs were not helpful
Michael Floyd dropped a pass. John Brown dropped two. Larry Fitzgerald dropped one. Ted Ginn dropped two. Drew Stanton wasn't great, but he was getting no help at all. The receivers are supposed to be one of the biggest strengths of the team. That didn't show up at all in Denver.