CINCINNATI - There aren't many times Peyton Manning throws an interception in a football game, let alone two. It happened Sunday but all that did was stoke the fire of the four-time NFL MVP and the Denver Broncos.
Manning came back from throwing a pair of interceptions in the third quarter to rally the Broncos to a 31-23 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday afternoon at Paul Brown Stadium.
"It's almost funny because I almost get excited, after I get over it, because I know he's turned up now," said Denver cornerback Champ Bailey. "I'm sure a lot of guys feel that way. You don't like guys to make mistakes but you've got to let go of it. There's no such thing as a perfect game. You know that when he makes one he's especially going to be ready to go."
Manning, named the AFC Player of the Month for October, threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Joel Dreessen with 11:47 left in the fourth quarter for a go-ahead score. He then added an insurance 4-yard pass to Eric Decker with 3:36 remaining after Cincinnati had scored 10 points off of Manning's turnovers and taken a 20-17 lead.
It was the 48th time in his career he has led his team on a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime, extending his NFL record. Manning completed 27 of 35 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns for a passer rating of 105.8. It is the fifth straight game Manning has thrown at least three touchdowns and had a passer rating of 100 or better.
Decker caught eight passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bengals fell to 3-5 with their fourth consecutive loss, three of which have come at home. Denver improved to 5-3 with its third straight win and maintains its lead in the AFC West.
"I've been there before," said Manning. "My dad always says 'Get back to level zero', you have to erase the play from your minds. Any time you're on the road, you'd like to put a team away when you have the chance. Give credit to the Bengals for responding but when we had to, our team responded as well."
Cincinnati rallied from a 17-3 third quarter deficit, capitalizing on two interceptions by cornerback Terence Newman. They were the first two interceptions by a Cincinnati cornerback this season.
"It was one of those things today that was nice, but at the end of the day, we lost the game," said Newman. "It was pretty much all for naught. One of our goals was to get more turnovers but at the same time we didn't make big enough plays down the stretch."
Newman's first interception came in the end zone as the Broncos were threatening to increase a 17-10 lead. It led to a 49-yard field goal by Mike Nugent. Newman got his second interception at the Denver 27 on the Broncos' next possession to set up a 2-yard touchdown run by BenJarvus Green-Ellis early in the fourth quarter to put Cincinnati up 20-17.
Denver took a 3-0 lead on its opening possession when it drove 55 yards in 12 plays to get a 43-yard field goal by Matt Prater. Manning went 5 of 6 for 43 yards on the drive.
Cincinnati tied it in the second quarter on a 28-yard field goal by Nugent. The Bengals had a first-and-goal at the Denver 8 but lost two yards on first down and went no further.
Manning and Broncos answered with an eight-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Decker scoring on a 13-yard pass from Manning. Decker took the pass on a short out route, turned up-field and ran through the attempted tackle of cornerback Leon Hall into the end zone.
Nugent missed a 46-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the first half and allowed the Broncos to take a 10-3 lead into the locker room.
Trindon Holliday opened the second half with a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to push the lead to 17-3. It was the longest play in Denver history and equaled the longest play ever against the Bengals.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton finished 26-of-42 passing for 299 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He threw a 10-yard touchdown to A.J. Green in the third quarter following Holliday's kickoff return but was sacked five times for 24 yards of losses. Linebacker Von Miller had three sacks, giving him 20.5 sacks in his first two seasons.
"It comes down to a couple of plays. We played hard and played well at time, but we still have to put more drives together, score more points and get more stops," said Dalton. "We have to make one more play -- two more plays. We have to do whatever it takes to win these games. We were close today, but we fell short."
The Broncos travel to the Carolina Panthers next Sunday while Cincinnati gets its second Manning in a row when Eli Manning and the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants come to Paul Brown Stadium.
Notes: Manning is now 8-0 against Cincinnati in his career. ... Decker has caught a touchdown pass in five straight games. His 16 receiving touchdowns are the most in Denver history through a player's first three seasons, surpassing Brandon Marshall and Rod Smith, who had 15 each. ... Holliday's kickoff return for a touchdown equaled the 105-yard kickoff return the Bengals allowed to Mercury Morris of Miami on Sept. 14, 1969. ... Broncos' starting right guard Chris Kuper left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. ... Bengals rookie Trevor Robinson made his first career start at center in place of veteran Jeff Faine. Robinson is an undrafted free agent from Notre Dame. Faine was signed on Aug. 29 to replace Kyle Cook, who is on injured reserve with an ankle injury. Cook is eligible to return later this season under the new IR rules. ... A.J. Green has caught a touchdown pass in seven straight games. ... Cincinnati tight end Jermaine Gresham caught six passes for 108 yards. It is the first 100-yard receiving game of his career.