On the scoreboard anyway. What they didn't do was outgain them.
Two first-half turnovers were offset by two first-half running TDs by Anderson, and the Broncos took a 14-3 halftime lead and turned it into a 24-17 game-that-would-not-end victory over Buffalo at home. With the win, the Broncos improved to 10-3, putting pressure on the New England Patriots as they face the San Diego Chargers Sunday night (go Chargers!) The Bills fell to 7-6 in a tight AFC playoff race that might knock them out of Wild Card contention.
Peyton Manning's interesting struggles continued, throwing two interceptions and clearly being out of rhythm. His 51-game streak of throwing a TD was broken as Manning's receivers didn't find the end zone in Week 14.
But the Broncos defense and running game were more than able to make up for Manning's struggles. While Peyton's passing is a concern, it's wonderfully refreshing to know Denver doesn't have to rely on Manning alone as Manning-teams always have.
Bills quarterback Kyle Orton, formerly of the Broncos, was sacked four times (thrice in the first half alone), while cornerback Bradley Roby forced a fumble on the Bills' Sammy Watkins to contribute to at least three Bills turnovers. Chris Harris Jr. - you know, the best cornerback in the NFL - had a sack and an interception in the win.
Anderson rumbled into the end zone for two first half touchdowns, but two turnovers in the passing game kept the Broncos from truly dominating. The first, a duck from Manning, fell fall short of its mark and was intercepted by Buffalo's Corey Graham. The second was a fumble by tight end Jacob Tamme deep in Bills territory just before the end of the half, wiping away Denver's potential opportunity to double-dip with points on their back-to-back possessions when receiving the second half kickoff.
So the offense wasn't great, but the Broncos defense was - mostly...until the last half of the fourth quarter.
Malik Jackson in first half -- 6 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack.— Jeff Legwold (@Jeff_Legwold) December 7, 2014
Orton was sacked three times in the first half- once by Jackson, once by Von Miller, and then once by himself - a dumb slide on 3rd and 1 behind the line of scrimmage. Steven Johnson and Terrance Knighton technically shared the sack for their role in the pursuit of Orton.
Anderson rushed for his third touchdown in the second half, putting the game at 21-3 and out of reach.
Then, as he often did in Denver, Orton compiled some stats in garbage time, executing two touchdown drives in the 4th quarter with the Broncos up three scores.
For the Broncos, Demaryius Thomas was active but didn't do a whole lot. Julius Thomas was also active but remained on the sideline the entire game.
The Broncos have proved they can win when Peyton Manning struggles. That's great.
Now it would be great if Manning wasn't, y'know, struggling - 14/20 for 173 is nowhere close to what we've come to expect. Even on a rough night. Orton's numbers were more Manning-like: 38/57 for 355 and 1 TD.
With big AFC road games in San Diego and Cincinnati on the docket, the Broncos will need to boast some complete football if they want to even talk about moving on to the playoffs, much less anything about a championship game.