For the sixth time in as many weeks, the Denver Broncos did just enough, defeating the Cleveland Browns 26-23 in an overtime thriller. For a time it looked as if neither team wanted to win this game. Competing turnovers and poor offensive play on both sidelines forced overtime, and the Broncos defense came through.
After the Broncos first possession of overtime stalled, their “Orange Rush” defense got the ball back in the hands of their five-time league MVP, who came through when his team needed him, leading a drive that included an 18-yard completion to tight end Owen Daniels, and a seven-yard bootleg to Daniels that set up a game winning 34-yard Brandon McManus field goal.
There were moments throughout the game that made the Dawg Pound go dead quiet. In the second quarter, with the Broncos clinging to a 3-0 lead, cornerback Aqib Talib intercepted Browns quarterback Josh McCown and returned it for a 63-yard touchdown. Despite the ultimate outcome, and a number of exciting moments, it was far from pretty for the Denver Broncos.
Peyton Manning again struggled mightily Sunday, going 26-of-48 for 290 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. All three interceptions were thrown to players in Cleveland’s front-seven. Had it not been for a 75-yard touchdown strike to Emmanuel Sanders in the fourth quarter, this game could have been the third this season wherein Manning and the Broncos offense failed to score a touchdown.
In each of those games, the Broncos defense was left to carry the load, and that was the case in Cleveland as well. The league’s top-ranked defense forced three critical Josh McCown turnovers and sacked the veteran gunslinger four times, further separating Denver’s elite defensive unit from the rest of the league.
Head coach Gary Kubiak knows his team needs to improve, despite heading into their bye week with a perfect 6-0 record.
“It’s hard to win in this league,” Kubiak said. “I’m proud of where we’re at as a football team. Also, as a coach, I’m concerned about a lot of things we’ve got to improve upon. I think we’re a good football team that could be a great football team if we can correct a lot of our faults and mistakes, but we continue to battle and find a way to win. Today was no different."
Jake Marsing is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. Find him on Twitter @JakeDMarsing.