Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/24/12
DENVER -- Even with the Denver Broncos steamrolling into the playoffs behind his play, Peyton Manning can't bring himself to say he's all the way back from the neck injury that sidelined him during his final season in Indianapolis. Manning threw three touchdown passes, including two to Eric Decker, and the Broncos overwhelmed the Cleveland Browns 34-12 Sunday for their 10th consecutive victory. The Broncos (12-3) matched the second longest win streak in team history -- they also won 10 in a row in 1984. They can wrap up the No. 2 playoff seed and first-round bye that goes with it with a win at home over Kansas City in a regular-season finale next Sunday. Denver also could move up to the top seed with a win in the finale and a Texas loss. "I know you don't believe me when I say this, I'm still learning about myself physically and what I can do," said Manning, who joined Denver as free agent after a grueling rehab and his departure from Indianapolis, where he spent 14 seasons. "I still have things that are harder than they used to be. That's just the way it is and maybe that's the way it's going to be from here on out. I know how hard I've worked, I know how much help I've gotten along the way, I know how hard our team has worked, I think some of those things have paid off." In a big way. "This has been such a unique season for me, personally," Manning said. "I really feel fortunate to be playing. I'm proud that our team is in the mix." Manning finished with 339 yards passing, completing 30 of 43 passes with an interception. He had his 77th career game with at least three touchdown passes, tying Brett Favre for most such games in NFL history. It was the 10th time this season that the Broncos have scored 30 or more points in a game, and the eighth time during the streak. That tied them with New England for most 30-plus-points game in the NFL this season and also matched the club mark, achieved in 1998 and 2000. "They were extremely efficient on offense. They kept the pressure on us," Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur said. "We didn't make enough plays to win and we tangled with a very good football team today that played well." Injuries also took a toll as the Browns saw running back Trent Richardson (left ankle), quarterback Brandon Weeden (right shoulder) and cornerback Sheldon Brown (head) all leave the game at various points. Denver's defense kept the Browns (5-10) out of the end zone until midway through the fourth quarter after Cleveland lost Weeden late in the third quarter when he was sacked by Von Miller. Weeden finished 12-of-19 for 104 yards. Colt McCoy finished the game at quarterback for the Browns. Shurmur said it was too soon to say whether Weeden or McCoy would start the finale. McCoy, the starter going into last season, had his 2011 season cut short when he suffered a concussion on a hit to the head by Steelers linebacker James Harrison. "I haven't even really gone there," McCoy said of potentially making his first start since last year's season-ending concussion. "I'll strap it up and be ready to play, but to be honest, I don't even know the situation." Miller increased his season sack total to a team-record 17.5, surpassing the previous high of 17 by teammate Elvis Dumervil in 2009. Denver had six sacks in the game. "I know he has been working hard to get that record," Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said of Miller. "I am proud of him because he works hard and really wants to be the greatest. I'm all for it." Trailing by 11 at the half, the Browns managed to get within 14-6 on Phil Dawson's second field goal, a 53-yarder with 11:09 remaining in the third quarter. But the Broncos ran off the next 17 points, starting with Manning's second touchdown pass to Decker, which covered eight yards. Decker celebrated the score by rolling the football into the end zone fence as if he were rolling a bowling ball down the alley. Matt Prater added a 27-yard field goal, and Jacob Hester ran for a 1-yard touchdown, a score set up by Joshua Cribbs' muffed punt that was recovered by Denver's Lance Ball at the Browns' 19-yard line. Cleveland finally scored a touchdown when McCoy passed six yards to Greg Little with 7:56 remaining, but it was too little, too late. The Broncos led 14-3 at halftime, missing a chance to go up even more when safety Usama Young made a diving interception of a Manning pass in the end zone with just seconds remaining in the second quarter. Manning had been trying to get the ball to Knowshon Moreno. Young's interception survived a replay review, unlike the apparent pick and long return by Broncos safety Rahim Moore earlier in the game after it was determined the ball had hit the ground before he got up and ran with it. The Broncos gained command from the outset, with Manning finishing off a pair of 80-yard drives with touchdown passes, the first coming at the end of Denver's opening series. Manning hit Demaryius Thomas in stride from 22 yards, putting the ball into his outstretched hands as cornerback Sheldon Brown battled him, unable to dislodge it. Weeden answered by directing a Browns drive that reached Denver's 8-yard line, but on a third-and-goal play, safety Mike Adams, a former Brown, tipped away a pass in the end zone intended for Josh Cooper. Dawson came on to kick a 27-yard field goal for the Browns. Manning put together another long drive by the Broncos leading to a 10-yard scoring pass to Decker, who outfought Brown in the end zone for the ball. Young said he thought Brown had great coverage on both plays but it wasn't enough against Manning's precision. "That's Peyton Manning for you," Young said. "He's been making those throws for a number of years and reading defenses at a high level for a number of years. I'm looking at somebody making a catch and it's like he's dropping the ball in a bucket every time. He's just dropping the ball in a bucket with defenders all over him. But he's able to find a way to put it in there. That's what makes him special." Brown left the game later in the second quarter with a head injury and did not return. NOTES: Manning has 11 multiple-touchdown-pass games this season, tying him with Drew Brees for most in the NFL. He has 34 on the year, extending a single-season team record in his first season with the Broncos. ... Manning tied Jay Cutler (8) for most 300 yards passing games in Broncos team history ... Decker's 20 career touchdown receptions since breaking into the league as a third-round pick in 2010 are the most by a Broncos player over his first three seasons in team history. ... Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady has allowed only one sack in 15 games, fewest among offensive tackles who have started each of their team's games this season. ...Denver cornerback Tracy Porter, who missed nine previous games with seizure symptoms, returned against Cleveland but suffered a concussion during the first series and was ruled out for the remainder of the game. ... The Browns haven't beaten the Broncos since a 30-29 triumph on Oct. 8, 1990. ... Richardson, whose ankle injury will be re-valuated Monday, had 53 yards rushing, pushing his season total to 950. He eclipsed the Browns rookie record previously held by Jim Brown, who had 942 yards in 1957. ... The Browns lost to an AFC West team for the first time this season after beating Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego earlier in the year.
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