With the Denver Broncos’ 34-12 win over the Cleveland Browns, we can have ourselves a merry little Christmas, and let our hearts be light. Our losing troubles are way, way out of sight. The Broncos have gift-wrapped us 10 wins in a row this season which is their third double-digit winning streak in franchise history.
Tis’ the season for giving and receiving. Peyton Manning gave and gave to his receivers from the start. Demaryius Thomas had 5 catches for 67 yards in the first quarter alone in addition to the Broncos’ opening drive touchdown, a 22-yard beauty. Eric Decker joined in on the first half air attack with 4 receptions for 48 yards and a 10-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone to put the Broncos up 14-3 at the start of the second quarter. Thomas and Decker finished the day with 9 receptions for 102 yards (1 TD), and 6 receptions for 65 yard (2 TDs), respectively.
Tight end Jacob Tamme got in on the receiving act as well with his only two catches going for career longs. He had a 36-yard catch in the second quarter and then a 33-yard reception in the second half that set up Decker’s second touchdown of the day. With that score, Manning posted his 72nd career game with at least 3 passing touchdowns which ties Brett Favre for the most in NFL history.
Manning showed his human side on Sunday as well when he led the Broncos down the field in the two-minute drill. First, the Broncos received a delay of game penalty coming out of the timeout. That was followed up by a Manning interception in the end zone on a pass intended for Knowshon Moreno. Still, Manning finished the day going 30-for-43 for 339 yards with 3 touchdowns.
Speaking of Moreno, he went dashing through the turf in a white horse open sleigh on his way to 78 yards on 22 carries in addition to 49 yards on 5 receptions. Moreno has 100+ yards from scrimmage in the last four of five games which is tied for second in the NFL. Although Moreno didn’t get into the end zone, the running attack was able to pound the ball in from the 1-yard line with fullback Jacob Hester after the Broncos recovered a muffed Josh Cribbs punt in the fourth quarter. The rushing attack finished the day with 118 yards on the ground.
The Broncos’ defense held the Browns to just 142 yards passing and forced them to go 3-for-12 on third down. It wasn’t until Colt McCoy found Greg Little in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter that the Browns got a touchdown on the board.
Starting quarterback Brandon Weeden left the game in the second half with a shoulder injury and never returned. The Browns’ quarterbacks were sacked 6 times and hit 9 times.
Von Miller recorded 1.5 sacks bringing his total up to 17.5 on the season. With that, he set a franchise record for most sacks in a season to beat Elvis Dumervil’s record setting 17 sacks in 2009.
“He’s a great player. I think he’s gotten better,” head coach John Fox said after the game. “The thing I really appreciate about the guy, he’s a team guy, he’s not about the personal accolades, he’s about those [wins].”
Dumervil, the guy that Miller passed in the orange and blue record book recorded 2 sacks while Wesley Woodyard added 1.5 sacks.
This win heading into the holiday is a far cry from where the team was this time last year. Nearly a year ago to the day, the Broncos lost to the Buffalo Bills 40-14 on Christmas Eve. Three interceptions, one fumble, and 152 passing yards from Tim Tebow was the equivalent to coal in the orange stocking.
This year, the Broncos and Manning have made it the hap-happiest season of all. They’re in the running for No. 1 in the AFC.