KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Peyton Manning was wooed by the Chiefs early in the offseason, after the four-time MVP had been cut loose by Indianapolis and before he signed a five-year deal with Denver.
On Sunday, he showed exactly why Kansas City was after him.
Manning threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns, and led the Broncos down the field in the final minutes when the Chiefs were frantically trying to get a stop, setting up a field goal that sealed a 17-9 victory and their sixth consecutive win.
It allowed Manning to break a tie with his boss and Broncos vice president John Elway with his 149th win as a starting quarterback, trailing only Brett Favre (186) for most in NFL history.
“Peyton Manning is a Hall of Famer,” Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “We played pretty good as a defense most of the game, but he made a few plays, one or two more plays than we’d like him to make, and he came up with a victory.”
Naturally, Manning was quick to pass the praise to someone else.
In this case, it was Knowshon Moreno, who stepped into the starting lineup after Willis McGahee landed on injured reserve this week and ran for 85 yards. Manning also handed out kudos to Jacob Tamme and Demaryius Thomas, who were on the receiving end of his touchdown throws.
“I’ve got to tip my hat to Knowshon Moreno,” Manning said. “He stepped up today and did a heck of a job. Really an impressive effort by him.”
Not so much by the Chiefs offense.
Jamaal Charles ran for 107 yards, but the Chiefs (1-10) were done in by penalties, missed opportunities and a conservative approach that has not yielded a touchdown since the first quarter against Pittsburgh on Nov. 12, a span of more than 11 quarters and 173 minutes.
They could only manage field goals by Ryan Succop for the second straight game.
“It’s really about stopping the run,” Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said. “If you can limit that run game, you put the weight on their passing game, which hasn’t been that great this year.”
Quinn was 13 of 25 for 126 yards and an interception.
“Hats off to our defense,” Broncos coach John Fox said. “We struggled a bit against the run, but they’re a very good run team. … Something we work very hard on is the red area, and holding them to three field goals was a key in the game.”
Kansas City actually established an early lead for the third straight game on Succop’s first-quarter field goal, and seemed to be outplaying Denver (8-3) the entire first half.
They had a chance to go ahead 10-0 when they faced fourth-and-2 at the Denver 4, but Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel elected to kick another field goal against a team that had scored at least 30 points in five straight games, drawing a chorus of boos from the crowd.
“I thought points on the board were important,” Crennel said by way of explanation.
Problem was that touchdowns trump field goals.
On the Broncos’ final drive of the half, Manning completed five straight passes before finding Tamme on third-and-goal from the Kansas City 7 with 18 seconds left. The touchdown catch, on which the tight end dragged safety Eric Berry into the end zone, gave the Broncos a 7-6 lead and wiped out all the hard work that Kansas City had put in over the first 25 minutes.
Denver’s Matt Prater missed his second field goal try of the game early in the third quarter, and Succop’s 49-yarder gave Kansas City its first second-half lead of the season.
But once again, a failure to get into the end zone proved fatal.
Manning, who surpassed 3,000 yards passing earlier in the day, rode the legs of Moreno into Chiefs territory, and that’s when he lobbed a pass over nickelback Jalil Brown and into the hands of Thomas for the go-ahead, 30-yard touchdown reception late in the third quarter.
“That was a great catch down the sideline against tight coverage,” Manning said.
BEARS 28, VIKINGS 10: Jay Cutler threw for 188 yards and a touchdown after missing a game because of a concussion as Chicago ended a two-game losing streak.
Tied with Green Bay for the NFC North lead and just a game ahead of Minnesota (6-5) coming in, the Bears (8-3) grabbed a 25-3 halftime lead thanks to Cutler’s pinpoint passing. The defense held Adrian Peterson in check early on, although he finished with 108 yards rushing.
The win could prove costly. The Bears lost wide receiver Devin Hester (concussion), running back Matt Forte (ankle), cornerback Charles Tillman (ankle) and both starting guards to injuries.
BENGALS 34, RAIDERS 10: Andy Dalton threw three touchdown passes and Cincinnati showed its former quarterback, Carson Palmer, that it has moved on without him.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 129 yards and a touchdown against the NFL’s most generous defense. He had runs of 48 and 39 yards — the longest of his career — to set up scores.
Palmer had a tough time all-around in his return to Cincinnati, going 19 of 34 for 146 yards with four sacks and an interception.
With their third straight win, the Bengals (6-5) moved back into the playoff chase. Oakland (3-8) lost its fourth in a row.
A brawl in the fourth quarter resulted in Oakland’s Tommy Kelly and Lamarr Houston and Cincinnati’s Andrew Whitworth getting ejected.
BROWNS 20, STEELERS 14: Chris Rainey’s fumble with 2:25 left — Pittsburgh’s seventh of eight turnovers — was recovered by Cleveland’s Phil Taylor and the Browns handed their hated rivals a potentially devastating loss.
Charlie Batch, starting at quarterback for Pittsburgh because of injuries to Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich, was picked off three times and the Steelers (6-5) lost five fumbles, the last on the final play of the game to help the Browns (3-8) beat Pittsburgh for just the second time in 18 games.
Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden sustained a head injury in the final minutes. Backup Colt McCoy finished the win. Batch was 20 of 34 for 199 yards.
COLTS 20, BILLS 13: T.Y. Hilton scored on a 75-yard punt return and caught an 8-yard TD pass from Andrew Luck.
Hilton is the first player in franchise history to score by punt return and pass reception in the same game. Indy improved to 7-4.
Luck was 20 of 37 for 240 yards with a TD and an interception.
Buffalo (4-7) ended its red-zone drought with 11:30 left with a 1-yard TD pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Lee Smith to make it 20-13.
JAGUARS 24, TITANS 19: Chad Henne threw two touchdown passes, sparking the NFL’s worst offense for the second consecutive week.
The Jaguars (2-9) snapped a seven-game losing streak and were competitive at home for the first time this season.
Henne, making his first start in more than 13 months, found Cecil Shorts III on a 59-yard touchdown play in the third quarter and hooked up with rookie Justin Blackmon for a 7-yard score in the fourth.
The Titans (4-7) cut the lead to 21-19 on Jake Locker’s 6-yard pass to Kenny Britt with 4:52 remaining and had the ball with a chance to take the lead. But Russell Allen tipped Locker’s pass over the middle, and Dwight Lowery — back on the field after a five-week absence — had his first interception of the season.
DOLPHINS 24, SEAHAWKS 21: Dan Carpenter kicked a 43-yard field goal on the final, and Miami scored 17 points in the last 8:08.
Rookie Ryan Tannehill drove Miami 65 yards in the final 92 seconds to set up the winning kick. He finished 18 for 26 for 253 yards and a score.
Leon Washington returned a kickoff for a touchdown for the eighth time to tie the NFL career record and put Seattle ahead with eight minutes left. Miami answered with an 80-yard drive capped by Tannehill’s 29-yard scoring pass to Charles Clay, making it 21-all.
Miami (5-6) broke a three-game losing streak. The Seahawks (6-5), who are unbeaten at home this year, lost for the fifth time in six road games.