Manning, Anderson lead Broncos past Dolphins 39-36
The Associated Press
DENVER — The Denver Broncos finally found the balance — and the win — they’ve so desperately sought to stop their November slide.
Peyton Manning threw three of his four TD passes to Demaryius Thomas and C.J. Anderson ran for 167 yards and the go-ahead score in the Broncos’ 39-36 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
Anderson’s 6-yard run with 5:01 left gave the Broncos (8-3) their first lead of the game at 32-28.
Then, Ryan Tannehill’s pass skipped off Jarvis Landry’s left hand to T.J. Ward, whose 37-yard return set up Wes Welker’s insurance TD catch.
The Broncos needed it after Tannehill drove the Dolphins (6-5) on another scoring drive, hitting Landry from a yard out with 1:34 left. Lamar Miller’s 2-point dive made it a three-point game.
The Dolphins’ onside kick was recovered by — who else? — Anderson, who sealed the game with a 26-yard run.
After the Broncos ran just nine times for 28 yards at St. Louis a week earlier, offensive coordinator Adam Gase said he could take some heat off his much maligned O-line by calling for more handoffs and fewer drop-backs.
The Broncos ran the ball 35 times and threw it 35 times.
Anderson, who had 27 carries, caught four passes for 38 yards.
Manning became the third player in NFL history with touchdown passes in 50 consecutive games, joining Drew Brees (54) and Tom Brady (52). He completed 28 of 35 passes for 257 yards and no interceptions on a cool Colorado evening.
Emmanuel Sanders led the way with nine catches for 125 yards a week after sustaining a concussion.
Thomas finished with 10 catches for 87 yards, failing to match Calvin “Megatron” Johnson’s NFL record of eight straight 100-yard games.
His consolation was three touchdowns.
The Broncos’ O-line opened up holes and kept Manning upright — his only blemish was a “self-sack” in which he lost his footing on third-and-1 from the 7.
Tannehill (26 for 36 for 227 yards with three TDs) kept the Dolphins a step ahead much of the afternoon until Ward’s interception.
Two big blunders on special teams prevented the Broncos from taking control in the third quarter.
After Denver drove to the Dolphins 7 on the strength of nine runs, Manning slipped on third-and-1 for a sack. Then, Brandon McManus clanked a 33-yard field goal try off the right upright.
His teammates could hardly hide their anguish. On the sideline, center Manny Ramirez ripped his helmet off and hollered at McManus and Thomas slammed his helmet to the ground.
The Broncos forced a quick punt by Miami, but Isaiah Burse fumbled the punt at his own 12, leading to Tannehill’s 5-yard TD toss to Landry that gave Miami a 28-17 lead.
Manning drove the Broncos downfield and found Thomas from 5 yards out, then hit Sanders with the 2-point pass to pull Denver to 28-25 with 14:09 remaining.
In a matchup of contenders with dominant defenses and suspect offensive lines, both the Dolphins and Broncos scored on three of their four first-half drives.
Tannehill handed off for one, took one himself and threw a TD pass.
Manning threw TD passes of 5 and 14 yards to Thomas in the first half. The first was a dart with linebacker Jelani Jenkins blanketing the big receiver and the second came with 12 seconds left in the half and pulled the Broncos to 21-17 at the break.
Von Miller was hit below the belt on the first snap from scrimmage and retreated to the sideline. From there, he watched the Dolphins march down the field for Daniel Thomas’ 3-yard TD run.
The Broncos responded with McManus’ 38-yard field goal, but then cornerback Aqib Talib pulled up lame with a hamstring injury and the Dolphins capitalized with another touchdown drive. Tannehill’s 1-yard keeper made it 14-3.
Talib came back, but was beaten badly on Mike Wallace’s 10-yard touchdown grab and then sat out the rest of the game.
The Broncos also lost cornerback Kayvon Webster (shoulder) and leading tackler Brandon Marshall to a concussion. The Dolphins lost cornerback Jamar Taylor (shoulder), who started in place of Cortland Finnegan, who was deactivated with an ankle injury, and Miami left tackle Ja’Wuan James sustained a stinger.
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