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DENVER – Peyton Manning's touchdown streak is over, and he couldn't care less.
"I don't need to break or set another record," the five-time MVP said after watching his streak of 51 games with a touchdown throw end Sunday three shy of Drew Brees' NFL record. "It was important to get a win."
The Broncos beat Buffalo 24-17 behind C.J. Anderson's three touchdown runs and a swarming defense that made up for Denver's three turnovers with three takeaways of its own.
Manning hadn't been held without a TD toss since Nov. 14, 2010, for Indy against Cincinnati.
That's 1,485 days.
"C.J. did a good job down there in the red zone, getting in there on those runs," Manning said of Anderson's scores of 6, 1 and 3 yards. "Those are hard-earned runs down there. It was good to improve our red zone (efficiency)" after settling for five short field goals in a win at Kansas City.
"We didn't score many touchdowns last week and that was the difference tonight, being able to score touchdowns in the red zone as opposed to settling for field goals."
The Broncos (10-3) won their third straight game since downshifting their high-octane offense from a pass-oriented attack to a run-heavy approach.
"I hope fans will still keep coming to the games," deadpanned Manning, who finished 14 of 20 for 173 yards with two interceptions.
With Julius Thomas out again, Demaryius Thomas hobbled and Emmanuel Sanders pin-balling through the secondary all afternoon, Wes Welker awakened from a season-long slumber to lead the Broncos with six catches for 82 yards.
"This was not the game for the receivers to have a lot of big numbers," Manning said, "but Wes' play helped us get this victory."
Former Broncos QB Kyle Orton had a day like Manning usually does: 38 of 57 for 355 yards. He led the Bills (7-6) on two long desperation TD drives in the fourth quarter after they'd fallen behind 21-3. His 38 completions tied a team record and his 58 attempts is a franchise high.
"Not good enough to beat a good football team," said Orton, who was sacked four times.
Other takeaways from Denver's grind-it-out win:
UNDERHANDED FIST BUMP? After Anderson bulled in for his second TD, the Broncos celebrated. So did the refs. Moments after Anderson's 1-yard score, line judge John Hussey and umpire Carl Paganelli fist bumped after making what turned out to be the correct call.
Bills safety Aaron Williams wasn't amused. After the game, he linked the video of the officials' reaction to a tweet critical of the officials.
The NFL had no problem with the gesture: "It was an acknowledgment of good mechanics between the two officials involved in making the call," NFL spokesman Michael Signora said.
SACKLESS BILLS: The Bills still lead the league with 48 sacks but they didn't add to that total Sunday as they went without a sack for the first time since Sept. 22, 2013, against the Jets.
"You have to give it to the big boys up front," said Anderson, praising his O-line that was pilloried last month.
WONDERFUL WATKINS: With 127 yards on seven catches, Sammy Watkins became the first Bills rookie with four 100-yard games in a season.
"Every week I try to be that guy to change the game and make plays," Watkins said. "I had great catches. But ultimately we didn't win the game and that's the ultimate goal."
MAGNIFICENT MARSHALL: When last year's top tackler, Danny Trevathan, returns from IR this week, he'll join a linebacker corps that's done just fine without him.
His sub, Brandon Marshall, leads the team with 107 tackles and on Sunday had a team-high nine stops to go with three pass breakups and his first career interception.
MCMANUS BACK: One week after replacing him with veteran Connor Barth, the Broncos brought back kicker Brandon McManus as a kickoff specialist and he had four touchbacks in five kickoffs. Marcus Thigpen brought the other one out from 8 yards deep in the end zone and only reached the 19.
"It's good to still be in the locker room, continue to learn," McManus said. "In practice, I'll still be working on my field goals. I've got such a strong leg I kind of have some variables in my field goal steps that I know I can change. And obviously I didn't want to do that in the middle of the season. So, now I can work on it and still help the team however I can."
For now, that's by kicking the ball out of the back of the end zone.
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