And yet, by the time Manning and the rest of the Broncos reached halftime Sunday, they were on their way toward having it all.
Manning threw for 266 yards in the two-quarter barrage to go with four touchdowns on the way to a 31-0 halftime lead against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum.
It meant the Broncos broke the single-season scoring record and also became the first team in league history to cross the 600-point barrier.
After the game, Manning was asked to look back on the Broncos' accomplishments.
"[Obviously] it's hard to reflect too much in the middle of the season," Manning said. "But I know how hard this group has worked. ... Guys have paid the price and sacrificed in order to get in this position. So it's fun to play with guys like that that have that kind of work ethic and passion."
The 31 points in the first half gave the Broncos 603 for the season. They added three more in the second half -- during which Manning sat -- to finish at 606.
With his 266 yards passing in the first half, Manning also set a single-season mark for passing yardage with 5,477. The previous mark was 5,476, set by Drew Brees in 2011.
Manning's four touchdown passes put him at 55 for the year.
Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who has become one of Manning's favorite targets in Denver, said that while Sunday and the season on a whole have been impressive, the team's ultimate goal remains the Super Bowl.
"It's special, for sure," Thomas said. "Just to be part of it, to see him do those. We all want to win three more games for sure, that's our goal, but we'll all look back someday and feel good we were around for this.''
At halftime, Manning was 25-of-28 passing. Denver went with Brock Osweiler at QB in the second half.
Denver saw records fall last week, too, as Manning broke the mark for touchdown passes in a season with 51.
With the win Sunday, the Broncos have home-field advantage throughout the AFC postseason.