DENVER (AP) — Demaryius Thomas came up 13 yards short in his bid to tie Calvin Johnson’s NFL record of eight straight 100-yard games.
His consolation prize wasn’t too shabby.
Thomas caught three of Peyton Manning’s four touchdown throws in Denver’s 39-36, come-from-behind win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
Coming up just short of Megatron’s mark didn’t seem to bother Thomas too much.
“Nah,” Thomas said. “I just wanted to win the game. I had a decent game, helped the team. The main thing is we won the game.”
The Broncos (8-3), who had lost two of three, entered the fourth quarter trailing by 11.
Thomas’ third TD and Emmanuel Sanders’ 2-point reception pulled them to 28-25, and C.J. Anderson, who ran for 167 yards, scored from 10 yards out to give Denver its first lead at 32-28 with 5 minutes left.
Wes Welker added an insurance TD catch following T.J. Ward’s 37-yard return of Ryan Tannehill’s interception to make it 39-28.
The Dolphins (6-5) had one last drive in them. Tannehill hit Jarvis Landry from a yard out and Lamar Miller’s 2-point dive made it a three-point game with 1:34 remaining.
Miami’s onside kick was recovered by — who else? — Anderson, who also had four catches for 28 yards.
“I kind of knew it was coming my way,” Anderson said. “I didn’t know it was coming directly to me but it’s like playing shortstop: Keep your hands low, your knees bent, catch it, fall down and win the game.”
Actually, Anderson needed a 26-yard scamper on second down to seal the win.
“You just have to give it up to the big boys up front. They took so much heat the outside and the media all week,” said Anderson, who had come to the defense of the much-maligned O-line last week.
Other takeaways from Denver’s big win that set up a showdown at Kansas City (7-4) next week:
GROUND GAME: After running just nine times a week earlier in a stunning loss at St. Louis, the Broncos rushed for 201 yards, their best output since exactly a year ago at New England.
And they had perfect balance — 35 runs, 35 throws.
“They were probably expecting a few more passes and we were effective with the run,” Manning said.
He said it wasn’t just O-line bouncing back but the return of tight end Virgil Green that got the ground game going.
“We wanted to establish the run,” Manning said. “We had Virgil Green back, which I thought was significant and allowed us to do some things that we haven’t been able to do in the running game.”
A strained right calf had sidelined Green for three weeks, coinciding with Denver’s dive.
“Obviously, we would rather be running it than passing it, but we have a guy that can pass it pretty good,” center Will Montgomery said. “So, to be effective in the long run we need to do both, and we can do both.”
DISMAYED DOLPHINS: Seeing so many runs threw off the Dolphins.
“They’re known for throwing the ball all over the place. But they had a plan to run the ball and control the game like that,” cornerback Brent Grimes said. “They did a good job of it.
“If you want to beat a team like the Broncos, who went the Super bowl last year and are contenders this year, you’ve got to play your best game. We didn’t do that today.”
KEEPING COMPOSURE: Manning said the Broncos were able to pull this one out because they didn’t lose their cool when things went wrong.
“I thought the best thing our team did was we stayed pretty calm,” Manning said. “We just had a real calm demeanor the entire game.”
Well, they did lose their cool one time, when Brandon McManus clanked a 33-yard field goal try off the right upright after Manning had tripped on third-and-1 from the 7 for his only sack.
On the sideline, right guard Manny Ramirez ripped his helmet off and hollered as Thomas slammed his helmet to the ground.
“To come away with no points was really disappointing,” Manning said, “and once again it could have been that ‘this is not our day’ type of mentality. We just said, ‘Hey, it’s obviously going to be a dogfight.'”
FANTASTIC FOUR: Manning has thrown four or more TD passes 35 times in his career. Thirteen of those have come in his last 27 games.
Manning became the third player in NFL history with touchdown passes in 50 consecutive games, joining Drew Brees (54) and Tom Brady (52).
NOTES: Broncos CBs Aqib Talib (hamstring) and Kayvon Webster (shoulder) and MLB Brandon Marshall (concussion) were hurt. … The Dolphins lost CB Jamar Taylor (shoulder) and LT Ja’Wuan James (stinger).
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