CLEVELAND – When the Broncos needed Peyton Manning and their sluggish offense to get going and deliver a win, they did so Sunday.
Brandon McManus kicked a 34-yard field goal with 4:56 left in overtime as the Broncos beat the Cleveland Browns, 26-23, on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Broncos overcame three Manning interceptions, including another pick-six, and drove 72 yards from their 12-yard line to set up McManus for the winning kick as Denver improved to 6-0 for the seventh time in franchise history.
The Broncos also started 6-0 in 2013, 2009, 1998, 1997, 1986 and 1977 teams. Each of those teams except in 2009 made the playoffs and five of those teams reached the Super Bowl.
It’s the Broncos’ 11th consecutive win over the Browns, who last beat Denver in 1990.
The Broncos were in trouble in overtime when on their first drive, Manning was intercepted for the third time in the game. But the defense came to the rescue — again — with Malik Jackson getting a huge sack that pushed Cleveland out of field goal range.
The Broncos converted two third downs on the winning drive, including Manning hitting Owen Daniels for 18 yards on third-and-4 and C.J. Anderson rushing for 6 yards on third-and-1.
It was a dull game through the first three quarters, which had the Broncos leading, 16-7. But the Browns scored two touchdowns in a span of 1:09 in the fourth quarter, with Browns quarterback Josh McCown hitting Gary Barnidge for an 11-yard touchdown.
On the next drive, when the Broncos needed first downs and to start taking time off the clock, the opposite happened. After a first down and a busted running play, Manning was intercepted by Karlos Dansby, who returned it 35 yards for a touchdown to put Cleveland ahead, 20-16 with 8:06 remaining after failing to get the two-point conversion.
But on the first play after the kickoff, Manning found Emmanuel Sanders down the right sideline and the speedy receiver was gone for a 75-yard touchdown to put the Broncos back on top, 23-20, with 7:53 to play. It was the first offensive touchdown for the Broncos in 27 drives.
The Browns got the ball back with less than five minutes to play and drove into the red zone, getting helped by a roughing-the-passer penalty by the Broncos’ Derek Wolfe. But the defense stood firm and held the Browns to a 26-yard field goal that tied the game with 1:30 to play.
Then things got really wild. The Broncos went three-and-out, giving the Browns a chance, but David Bruton intercepted McCown. The Broncos tried to get into field goal position and Manning found Sanders, who appeared to make a one-handed 38-yard reception down the left sideline.
Sanders was ruled down, but with the Broncos out of timeouts, time ran out. But replay officials overruled the play and said the pass was incomplete. The Broncos punted and the teams went to overtime.
The Broncos have a bye next week then play the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m. at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The game will be a reunion of the 1997 championship team that beat the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII and also include the induction of owner Pat Bowlen into the team’s Ring of Fame.
Relive the game below through social reaction as the game unfolded.