- Image 1 of 2
- Image 2 of 2
DENVER – Peyton Manning's team sure can run the ball.
C.J. Anderson ran for three touchdowns and the Denver Broncos overcame a rare unsteady outing by Manning to beat the Buffalo Bills 24-17 Sunday.
Manning's streak of 51 straight games with a touchdown throw — three shy of Drew Brees' NFL record — ended on a sun-splashed, almost still afternoon with the game-time temperature a balmy 63 degrees.
Despite three turnovers, the Broncos (10-3) won their third straight game since changing from a pass-oriented attack to a run-heavy approach.
Manning finished 14 of 20 for 173 yards with two interceptions. His top receiver, Demaryius Thomas, was held to two catches for 11 yards, and tight end Julius Thomas (ankle) was active but didn't play for the third straight week.
Putting up the big numbers was former Broncos QB Kyle Orton: 38 of 57 for 355 yards. He led the Bills (7-6) on two long TD drives in the fourth quarter after they'd fallen behind 21-3.
Manning threw two interceptions deep in Buffalo territory and tight end Jacob Tamme fumbled at the Bills 10-yard line. Otherwise, it wouldn't have come down to David Bruton Jr.'s recovery of an onside kick in the final minute.
With Manning out of sorts, Anderson bailed out the Broncos with TD runs of 6, 1 and 3 yards. The latter score followed a 47-yard burst by fellow undrafted tailback Juwan Thompson, Denver's longest run of the season.
The Bills turned it over twice, including Chris Harris' Jr.'s goal line interception in the third quarter. That led to a 50-yard field goal by Connor Barth, who focused only on field goals. Brandon McManus returned to the roster as a kickoff specialist.
Orton connected with Chris Hogan on a 14-yard score with 10:46 remaining to make it 24-10. Buffalo punted on fourth-and-2 from its 16 with 5 1-2 minutes remaining. The gamble paid off when Denver went three-and-out.
Orton drove the Bills 90 yards in 17 plays, converting two fourth downs before taking it in from the 1 with 55 seconds left.
With 127 yards receiving on seven catches, Sammy Watkins became the first Bills rookie with four 100-yard games in a season.
Three weeks after handing off nine times and throwing 54 passes at St. Louis, Manning threw just nine times in the first half, completing six. But Corey Graham intercepted a slightly underthrown pass to Emmanuel Sanders and also recovered a fumble by Tamme at the Buffalo 10-yard line.
Graham intercepted Manning's underthrown pass at the Buffalo 20 and returned it to Denver's 20. But a holding call on Kyle Williams at midfield negated the big return, and the Bills took over at their 40 — essentially a 40-yard penalty.
Graham came up with another big play in the final minute of the first half. With 32 seconds left, Manning hit Tamme over the middle for 10 yards, but safety Duke Williams stripped him at the 10 and Graham recovered.
It didn't matter thanks to Anderson.
The last time Manning's right arm got such little work when he played a full half was on Oct. 19, 2008, when his Indianapolis Colts were at Green Bay. On that day, he went into halftime 7 for 9, but finished with 42 passes.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL