Denver, CO (SportsNetwork.com) - C.J. Anderson's three touchdown runs and a solid defensive effort led the Denver Broncos to a narrow 24-17 victory over the playoff-hopeful Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Peyton Manning failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in over four years, but the Broncos (10-3) nevertheless came away with their third straight win and stayed in sole possession of first place in the AFC West.
Manning threw two interceptions and finished with a season-low in passing yards (173) for the second straight week. His streak of tossing a TD pass ended at 51, one shy of tying Tom Brady for the second-longest in NFL history.
Anderson and Juwan Thompson combined for 121 yards on the ground, and Wes Welker caught six passes for 82 yards for the victors.
Buffalo (7-6) forced three turnovers but gave it away three times as well and committed 11 penalties for 98 yards.
"At the end of the day, we weren't good enough to win," Bills head coach Doug Marrone said. "That's my fault. It falls on me."
Kyle Orton threw for 355 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for the Bills, who were trying to win three in a row for the first time since the start of the 2011 season.
Orton also ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 55 seconds remaining, but Denver recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the win.
"It wasn't pretty. It wasn't exactly perfect. But it's a 'W,'" Broncos head coach John Fox said.
Sammy Watkins caught seven passes for 127 yards and lost a fumble near midfield on Buffalo's opening drive.
After forcing a three-and-out, the Bills had another promising drive come up empty as they turned the ball over on downs at the Denver 39-yard line.
Welker's 38-yard reception on the next play, followed by four Anderson runs totaling 23 yards, got the Broncos in the end zone. Anderson took a handoff out of the shotgun and rumbled up the middle for a 6-yard score with 2:43 remaining in the opening quarter.
Dan Carpenter put the Bills on the board with a 44-yard field goal 3:09 into the second quarter, and Buffalo got the ball right back when Corey Graham picked off a deep, wobbly pass by Manning.
A holding penalty negated Graham's 60-yard return that would have given the Bills the ball at the Denver 20. Instead they started at their own 40 and quickly punted.
Another infraction, this one a personal foul on Jerry Hughes, kept Denver's next drive alive, and Anderson capitalized with a short touchdown run with 3:26 left in the half.
Thompson rumbled 47 yards on the third play of the second half, and Anderson punched in another 1-yard TD two plays later.
Orton and Manning traded interceptions, and Chris Harris Jr. picked off another Orton pass just before the end zone and returned it 38 yards.
Connor Barth, in his second game with Denver, snuck a 50-yard field goal over the goal post late in the third quarter, and Buffalo responded with a 13-play, 80-yard drive.
Orton and Chris Hogan connected on a 14-yard scoring strike with 10:46 to play, but Buffalo punted on its next possession and did not get the ball back until 4:20 was left on the clock.
The last time Manning failed to throw a touchdown pass came on Nov. 14, 2011 ... Watkins broke Joe Cribbs' franchise rookie record for receptions. He now has 58 ... Broncos star wideout Demaryius Thomas was held to two catches for 11 yards ... Fred Jackson totaled 72 yards from scrimmage ... Buffalo accounted for 24 first downs to Denver's 15 ... Broncos tight end Julius Thomas was in uniform after missing the previous two weeks with an ankle injury but did not see the field.