Every week, Peyton Manning seems to add another line to his already bulging résumé. This one was no different, as he posted his 72nd three-touchdown game -- matching the tally of Brett Favre -- in the Broncos' 34-12 win over the Browns (5-10) on Sunday. The victory pushed Denver's record to 12-3, its best after 15 games since 2005.
Manning might have nudged ahead of Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson in the race for MVP; while Peterson was held to 86 yards on 25 carries in the Vikings' 23-6 upset of the Texans, Manning riddled the Browns with 339 yards on 30-of-43 passing and looked in vintage form on his three touchdown passes, including a 10-yard second-quarter strike to WR Eric Decker that was thrown with the zip Manning brandished several years ago.
Yet Manning thinks he's not as good now as he was in his salad days.
"I don't," he said. "I'm trying to be as good as I possibly can be at this stage, and as a 36-year-old quarterback coming off a year and a half off, playing on a new team. I'm trying to be as good as I possibly can be in this scenario."
He looks pretty good to Broncos LB Von Miller, who posted 1.5 sacks Sunday to take his total to 17.5, a club single-season record.
"He doesn't look like he's 36 years old," Miller said. "He's still throwing the ball everywhere. He's still getting it done."
Miller paced a dominant defensive effort from start to finish, which was prioritized in practice this week. In their previous three games, the Broncos were outscored 33-6 in the fourth quarter; Sunday, they had a 13-6 edge and sacked Browns QB Colt McCoy three times on their last two series after knocking starter Brandon Weeden out of the game with a shoulder injury.
"It was better," DE Elvis Dumervil said. "They still had that second-half score on us, so that's something we've got to be critical of down the stretch, because once the big games come, we have to do better."
When the game turned: The Broncos never trailed, but Cleveland had an opportunity to seize momentum early in the third quarter after bracketing halftime with Usama Young's end-zone interception 14 seconds before the break and a 45-yard drive to a 53-yard Phil Dawson field goal. But on a third-and-4 from the Denver 37, Manning found TE Jacob Tamme wide open down the right side of the field, and that was good for 33 yards to the Cleveland 30. Denver scored its third touchdown four plays later and was never seriously challenged again.
Highlight moments: Manning's first-quarter touchdown pass to Thomas, an arcing 22-yarder that dropped into Thomas' grasp in the back of the end zone.
Key stat: The Broncos converted 60 percent of their 15 third downs; the Browns converted just 25 percent of 12 third-down plays.
- Manning: 30-of-43 passing for 339 yards, three touchdowns, one interception and a 106.6 quarterback rating
- Broncos LB Wesley Woodyard: eight tackles, 1.5 sacks, two quarterback hits
- Miller: four tackles, 1.5 sacks, two quarterback hits
- Dumervil: four tackles, two sacks, three quarterback hits
- Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas: nine catches for 102 yards, one touchdown
- Browns LB Craig Robertson: 14 tackles, one tackle for loss
- Browns FS Usama Young: One end-zone interception, one pass defensed, five tackles
What they said about Miller breaking the Broncos' single-season sack record, previously held by Dumervil:
Dumervil: "We hugged each other. He's a special guy. If there's anybody I'd be happy and proud of for breaking the record, it would definitely be Von. It's well-deserved. He's been dynamic all year. He's been consistent since Week 1. So I'm happy for him."
Miller: "I went to him right after I got the second one, gave him a hug. I talked to him about it. Elvis is a great guy. All that stuff doesn't matter to him. What matters is just playing the best football we can and taking this thing as far as we can. I know that's what matters most to me and to Elvis."
Broncos S Mike Adams: "Him (Miller) and Doom (Dumervil) -- it makes it easy for us. They make it easy for everybody, because once it's a pass, you know it's Miller and Doom time. On the back end, it's sweet for us."
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Injury update: Broncos -- CB Tracy Porter left after suffering a concussion on the Broncos' defensive series and did not return. Browns -- CB Sheldon Brown left in the second quarter because of a concussion. QB Brandon Weeden was knocked out of the game after suffering a right shoulder injury when Miller sacked him. RB Trent Richardson injured his left ankle with 44 seconds left and was taken from the field on a cart; he was X-rayed after the game and subsequently hobbled from the X-ray room back to the cart for transport to the locker room. He put weight on the ankle as he gingerly strode to the cart but grimaced as he did so.
Going forward: Broncos -- A win against hapless Kansas City next week gives the Broncos no worse than the No. 2 playoff seed and a first-round bye; if the Texans lose at Indianapolis, then the Broncos could snatch home-field advantage from Houston. Browns -- Only pride is on the line when they face the arch-rival Steelers in the season finale at Heinz Field, but the game also offers a final chance to make a statement for head coach Pat Shurmur, who could be swept out with the new regime in place.
For up-to-the-minute Broncos updates, follow Andrew Mason on Twitter at @CBSBroncos.
Stay dialed in on the Cleveland Browns on Twitter at @CBSBrowns throughout the season with on-site updates from CBSSports.com RapidReports correspondent Marty Gitlin.