CINCINNATI – Peyton Manning’s two interceptions had put the Broncos behind. The four-time MVP was going to need yet another fourth-quarter comeback to pull it out.
No one’s better at it.
Manning stayed perfect against Cincinnati on Sunday, overcoming his two interceptions with three touchdown passes for a 31-23 victory that gave him yet another NFL record that measures calmness under pressure.
His 48th game-winning drive moved him ahead of Dan Marino for the NFL record and showed Denver (5-3) that he’s still got it when everything’s on the line.
He is special at it, coach John Fox said.
Especially when he’s playing the Bengals (3-5), who have failed every time they’ve faced him. Manning improved to 8-0 career against Cincinnati, throwing for at least three touchdowns in five of those games.
His two second-half interceptions – one in the end zone, both by cornerback Terence Newman – helped the Bengals pull ahead 20-17 early in the fourth quarter. That’s when Manning and the Broncos have been at their best.
I’ve been there before, Manning said. My dad (Archie) always talked about you’ve got to get back to level zero, erase the play from your mind – a good play or a bad play – and move on to the next one.
That’s not the scenario we wanted. Anytime you’re on the road and have a chance to put a team away, you want to do it. You don’t want to give a team a little life, which is what we did.
In the end, it didn’t matter. Denver has outscored its opponents 103-23 in the final quarter, the biggest point differential in the league.
Manning threw a 1-yard touchdown to tight end Joel Dreessen that put Denver back ahead. After Andy Dalton underthrew a pass under pressure that was picked off by Champ Bailey, Manning put it away with a 4-yard pass to Eric Decker with 3:36 left.
He’s a great competitor, Stokley said. He is who he is, and it’s what I’ve seen from him for 14 years.
Manning was 27 of 35 for 291 yards for a passer rating of 105.8. He came up 9 yards short of tying Steve Young’s NFL record of five straight games with 300 yards and three TDs passing.
After a neck injury threatened his career and ended his stay in Indianapolis, Manning has regained his touch with Denver. The Broncos have scored 37, 21, 35, 34 and 31 points in their past five games, winning four of them.
I think this team needs to go through different scenarios and have one of these tight second-half games, Manning said. The more you can go through it as a unit, the more you can draw on it later in the season. Anytime you can win going through those scenarios, that’s a plus.