Peyton Manning keeps throwing more interceptions than touchdowns and the Denver Broncos keep winning anyway, this time overcoming a poor showing from the quarterback to beat the Cleveland Browns, 26-23, in overtime on Sunday. Manning has toed the line between good enough to win and hindrance to an otherwise excellent team. With one touchdown and three interceptions in Week 6, he may have stepped over that line.
The still undefeated Broncos entered Sunday with the NFL's No. 1 defense and managed to keep the Browns out of the end zone at the end of the game, intercepting Josh McCown in the final minute of regulation and stuffing an overtime drive that began in Broncos territory. The only reason a lead was given to the Browns in the fourth quarter was because of a Manning interception that was returned for a touchdown.
An interception thrown by Manning was returned by Karlos Dansby for a touchdown that gave the Browns a 20-16 lead in the fourth quarter. Manning immediately followed the mistake with a 75-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders that gave the lead back to the Broncos.
It was a microcosm of the season so far for Manning, one that has featured a lot of mistakes with moments of brilliance peppered in. Those moments are coming less often every week and on Sunday, his touchdown to Sanders was arguably his only stroke of brilliance of the day.
Through Week 6, he now leads the NFL in picks:
Peyton Manning’s 10 interceptions are his most in the first six games of a season since he had 14 in 1998— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 18, 2015
Manning's best statistical game of the season was a Week 2 win over the Kansas City Chiefs when he threw three touchdowns with only one interception. That game was far from crisp, though, and his interception was returned for a touchdown by Marcus Peters to give the Chiefs a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. Were it not for a bizarre ending that featured the Chiefs fumbling away a ball in the final minute, Manning's three touchdowns might not have been enough to get a win.
But the Broncos defense bailed him out and managed to do so again in Week 6.
That's not to say that everything was Manning's fault in the overtime game. Demaryius Thomas had some key drops late in the game and Travis Benjamin was allowed to rack up 117 receiving yards on nine receptions for the Browns. Still, it's hard to argue that Manning has been much of an asset for the team, and it was the strong rushing attack of Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson that proved to be the difference in overtime.
Right now the Broncos keep winning, but it's certainly not because of the play of the team's 14-time Pro Bowl quarterback. Now it may only be a matter of time before the team is forced to find out if Brock Osweiler can screw up less.
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