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Defense bails Broncos out, again

Peyton Manning


How are the Broncos 6-0 with Peyton Manning having thrown seven interceptions in the last three games?

The Browns helped on Sunday by settling for a field goal late in regulation and then not getting a field goal after Manning was intercepted in the overtime.

The NFL’s No. 1 defense bailed the Broncos out in that spot -- and for a second straight week. After Barkevious Mingo intercepted Manning to start the overtime and returned it to the Broncos’ 39-yard line, the Broncos pushed the Browns back 17 yards over the next three plays, twice sacking Josh McCown.

The Browns punted, and Manning drove the Broncos 72 yards in 13 plays to set up the game-winning field goal by Brandon McManus. A game that was 10-0, Broncos, at halftime ended up 26-23.

The only touchdown of the first half came via a 63-yard interception return by Aqib Talib. It was the fourth touchdown of the year for the Broncos’ defense, its second in two weeks and Talib’s second of the season.

The Broncos won with just one offensive touchdown, and they didn’t get that until after the Browns had claimed a 20-16 lead in the fourth quarter when Karlos Dansby intercepted Manning for the second time and returned it for a touchdown.

The Broncos sacked McCown four times and picked him off twice, the second on an unexplainable throw that set up a wild sequence at the end of regulation. Each team had its chances before the Broncos finally clinched it.

Manning called the overtime interception “just a terrible situation to put us in” and said “I won’t be going to Vegas on my bye week. I don’t feel lucky right now.”

At 6-0, he should. Manning over the last three weeks has thrown two touchdowns and seven interceptions. He’s thrown 10 interceptions on the season, the most in the NFL. His quarterback rating has been under 70 in four of the Broncos’ six games.

The wins keep coming. The Broncos get time to gather themselves after escaping what wasn’t just a trap game but several shots the Browns had to win it.

The Packers come to Denver on Nov. 1 for a battle of unbeatens; both are off next week. With Aaron Rodgers on the other side, the Broncos are going to need more from their quarterback.