Broncos beat Vikings despite two picks thrown by Manning
Brandon McManus kicked three field goals, including a 39-yarder with 1:51 remaining, and the Denver Broncos hung on to beat the Minnesota Vikings 23-20 Sunday to remain undefeated.
Peyton Manning, shaking off two interceptions, led the Broncos into position for the tie-breaking score with C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman also contributing key runs. Hillman had 103 yards rushing, including a 72-yard touchdown run.
Denver, off to a 4-0 start for the seventh time in franchise history and the second time in the last three years, sealed the win when blitzing safety T.J. Ward ended the last-ditch possession of Minnesota (2-2) at midfield by sacking quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and forcing a fumble that linebacker Von Miller recovered. Bridgewater previously extended the drive with an 11-yard run on third-and-10.
Up by a field goal at the half, the Broncos gained additional separation when Manning started the third quarter by leading the offense down the field, finishing the drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to wide open tight end Owen Daniels.
But the Vikings came back to pull to within three points again. Facing fourth down and inches, the Vikings gave the ball to Adrian Peterson on a run up the middle. He broke through Denver’s bunched-up defense at the line of scrimmage and into the clear for a 48-yard touchdown run cutting the Broncos’ lead to 20-17 with 10:01 remaining.
Minnesota tied it at 20-all on Blair Walsh’s second field goal, a 33-yarder with 5:11 left to play that was set up by safety Harrison Smith’s interception of Manning, the Denver quarterback’s second pick of the game. Manning was 17 of 27 for 213 yards.
Linebacker Anthony Barr stepped in front of wide receiver Andre Caldwell to intercept Manning the first time, returning it 32 yards to the Broncos’ 27-yard line to set up the touchdown that pulled Minnesota to 13-10 at halftime.
Bridgewater completed successive passes to wide receiver Mike Wallace, the second a 4-yarder in the end zone with 12 seconds left in the second quarter.Denver scored on the first play after Blair Walsh’s 38-yard field goal try wide sailed wide left. With the ball at the Broncos’ 28-yard line, Manning pitched the ball to Hillman. Daniels sprung him with a block on the edge and Hillman raced untouched down the left sideline en route to matching the fourth-longest touchdown run in Broncos’ history.
NOTES: Broncos LB DeMarcus Ware is the only player in the league with at least one sack in each of the first four games. … Denver is the only team in the NFL this season yet to allow a point in the first quarter. … Rookie LT Ty Sambrailo missed the game with a shoulder injury. … Minnesota was without WR Charles Johnson because of a rib injury. Also held out was S Andrew Sendejo (knee). … The Vikings were in Denver for the first time since 2007, Adrian Peterson’s rookie season.