Manning & Miller lead Broncos to 10th straight win
Von Miller’s day was memorable because Peyton Manning was so
Manning threw for a season-high 339 yards and three touchdowns,
two of them frozen ropes into impossibly tight windows, and
Denver’s defense had a half-dozen sacks, all in the second half of
the Broncos’ 34-12 rout of the injury-riddled Cleveland Browns on
With their 10th straight win, the Broncos (12-3) moved into a
first-place tie in the AFC standings with the Houston Texans.
”There really was a mindset today to get touchdowns and not
have to settle for field goals,” said Manning, whose 72nd game
with at least three TD throws tied Brett Favre’s record. ”I really
think that was a factor in Cleveland’s play calling. Now they have
to throw more and allow Von and Elvis to kind of pin their ears
Miller was in on two of the sacks, the second of which gave him
the single season franchise record 17 1/2.
”Individual accomplishments are great, but I think it says a
lot about the defense that we play here,” said Miller, whose
record-breaker also knocked quarterback Brandon Weeden out of the
game with an injury to his right shoulder and brought in Colt
McCoy, who was sacked four times.
The Browns also lost rookie running back Trent Richardson to a
left ankle injury in the final minute of the blowout while he was
in the game pass blocking instead of taking handoffs to run out the
Browns cornerback Shelton Brown left the game with a concussion
after allowing TD throws to Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker
despite being draped all over the Broncos’ pair of big wide
”He has amazing coverage,” Browns defensive back Joe Haden
said. ”They just put it in the one spot he couldn’t get. I mean,
it looked like he touched the ball on both of them.”
The Browns won the coin toss but deferred and Manning made them
pay with a 22-yard TD toss to Thomas, then a 10-yarder to Decker
that made it 14-3 after two possessions. Both were thrown in
leaping range of the receiver where only he could catch it.
”People call that the Dwight Clark throw,” Manning said of the
iconic Joe Montana-to-Dwight Clark touchdown that won the 1981 NFC
title game for San Francisco. ”It’s our ball or nobody’s ball, but
because of their height and their ability to jump you can make that
Brown, who later got hurt when he ran into Brandon Stokley on a
crossing route, had blanket-tight coverage on both balls.
”I feel like that demoralizes a defense,” said Thomas.
Cleveland (5-10) lost its second straight after winning three in
a row, and afterward, Joshua Cribbs, whose 62-yard punt return was
negated by a penalty, tweeted his dissatisfaction with fans
critical of yet another season with double digit losses.
Cribbs tweeted, ”I See all the negativity on twitter after I
gave my life to this …. . So 2 all u who are against me … . all
y’all! I’m still gonna do me!” Cribbs, set to become an
unrestricted free agent after this season, later deleted the
The Broncos had their own issues, including a season-high 11
penalties, an interception that Manning threw in the end zone and
two bobbled returns.
Imperfections like that have helped the Broncos stay remarkably
focused on next week – in this case, a regular-season finale
against Kansas City (2-13) – instead of a playoff road that
seemingly looks easier after every win. This week, it was Houston
falling at home, 23-6 to Minnesota, dropping the Texans into a tie
for the first spot in the AFC. Houston holds the tiebreaker against
Denver, but has a much tougher game – at Indianapolis (10-5).
”I mean, we’re fans of football, so obviously we see it,”
cornerback Champ Bailey said. ”But it doesn’t distract us or get
us off of what our mission is and that’s just to get better every
week and win games.”
Miller’s 1 1/2 sacks gave him 17 1/2 for the season, topping
Elvis Dumervil’s franchise record by 1/2.
”He’s like my younger brother. If there’s any guy who deserves
it, it’s him,” Dumervil said. ”He’s been working hard since he
came into the league. He makes my job easier. So between him and
Peyton and Champ, those are my favorite guys as far as Champ
covering, Peyton sitting on the sideline for more rest and
obviously Von getting pressure on the other side.”
Denver put this game away during an eight-minute stretch in the
third quarter after Cleveland cut its deficit to 14-6.
Manning led a 91-yard touchdown drive, highlighted when he threw
a dart that slammed off Decker’s hands and dropped into Stokley’s.
Two plays later, Manning hit Decker for an 8-yard touchdown, and
three plays after that, Miller knocked Weeden out of the game.
”Von is a special talent,” Bailey said. ”You always have to
know where he is. And when you find out where he is, here comes the
Manning, who completed 30 of 43 passes, played with an orange
glove on his throwing hand, something he might have to use in more
frosty weather if the road to the Super Bowl ends up going through
the Rocky Mountains next month.
”I’ve messed with it throughout my career,” Manning said.
”I’ve been practicing in it these past few weeks. Felt like I was
pretty accurate most of the day.”
NOTES: Although Manning was 5-0 against Cleveland before Sunday,
he had thrown just two TD passes and six interceptions with a
passer rating of 74.2. This time, he had a QB rating of 106.6. …
Broncos CB Tracy Porter left with a concussion after playing just
three snaps in his first game since Oct. 7. … Broncos S Mike
Adams had four solo tackles and a game-high four pass breakups
against his former team. … Richardson has 950 yards rushing,
surpassing Jim Brown for the franchise rookie record. … Denver KR
Trindon Holliday sprained an ankle.
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