Published November 11, 2012
| Sports Network
Charlotte, NC – Peyton Manning threw for 301 yards with a touchdown and Trindon Holliday returned a kick for a score for the second straight week as the Denver Broncos downed the Carolina Panthers, 36-14.
Tony Carter also returned an interception for a score as part of a dominant defensive effort that recorded seven sacks for Denver (6-3), which won its fourth straight.
"We played well enough in each phase that they were all factors in the game, whether it's a defensive score or a punt return for a touchdown by (Holliday)," Broncos coach John Fox said.
Manning completed 27-of-38 passes, including nine to Demaryius Thomas for 135 yards.
Cam Newton went 21-for-36 through the air with 241 yards and a pair of touchdown passes to Greg Olson and two interceptions for the Panthers (2-7), who have dropped six of their last seven but were coming off a victory over Washington last week.
Olsen finished with nine receptions for 102 yards in defeat.
Carolina started a drive at its own 23-yard line after the teams traded punts on the opening two possessions of the game, and Newton found Olson and Mike Tolbert for 26-yard gains before Olsen capped the 6-play drive by hauling in a 4-yard touchdown pass.
The Broncos later took over on offense at their own 41 and Thomas' 32-yard reception over the middle moved the ball deep inside Carolina territory, setting up Brandon Stokley's 10-yard touchdown grab with 1:32 left in the first quarter.
Denver took the lead on the first play of the second quarter as Holliday, who had a 105-yard kickoff return for a score last week, received a punt at the Denver 24, cut to the right and raced down the right sideline for a 76-yard touchdown.
"You can't give up points on special teams. When you do that, you hurt your chances to win football games and that's exactly what happened," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said.
Matt Prater connected on a 53-yard field goal on the Broncos' next touch before missing a 43-yard kick wide right following another Carolina punt.
Carolina failed to cut into its deficit before the end of the half as Justin Medlock missed a 43-yard field goal wide left on the Panthers' ensuing drive.
The Panthers got a big defensive play early in the third quarter when Charles Johnson knocked the ball out of Manning's hand during a sack and Carolina recovered at its own 34, but Carter stepped in front of a Newton pass on the next play a returned it 40 yards for a touchdown.
Carolina's defense forced another turnover on Denver's next touch as Greg Hardy punched the ball away from Willis McGahee, giving the ball to the Panthers at their own 22.
But they would again not manage to take advantage and were forced to punt without recording a first down.
Denver then went on a 9-play, 62-yard drive Prater capped with a 27-yard field goal for a 27-7 lead with 14:17 remaining in the fourth quarter.
After Mike Adams sacked Newton for a safety less than four minutes later, Newton connected with Olson on a 5-yard touchdown with 5:09 left in the game to bring Carolina within 29-14.
The Panthers failed to recover the ensuing onside kick, however, and Manning found Thomas deep down the right sideline for a 46-yard gain before Ronnie Hillman broke a couple of tackles en route to a 5-yard touchdown run to finalize the scoring.
Rahim Moore then intercepted a tipped Newton pass on the first play after the two-minute warning and Denver was able to run out the rest of the clock.
Manning's touchdown pass gave him 420 for his career, tying Hall of Famer Dan Marino for second most in NFL history. Brett Favre is the all-time leader with 508 ... Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil left the game in the second quarter with a shoulder injury and did not return ... Denver wide receiver Eric Decker had his streak of five straight games with a touchdown catch snapped. He finished with 15 yards on two receptions ... Newton fell to 3-2 against teams from the AFC in his career ... Denver leads the all-time series between the teams, 3-1.