CLEVELAND >> As is often the case, Peyton Manning made all the plays when it mattered most.
Manning shook off three interceptions and drove Denver in range for Brandon McManus’ 34-yard field goal with 4:56 left in overtime, giving the unbeaten Broncos a 26-23 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Manning took the Broncos from their 12 to the Cleveland 16 before McManus kicked his game-winner to make Denver 6-0 for the seventh time in franchise history. The Broncos only rallied thanks to their top-ranked defense, which came up huge in overtime.
After Manning’s third pick, Denver recorded a tackle behind the line of scrimmage and then made two consecutive sacks of Josh McCown to push the Browns (2-4) out of field-goal range.
Given another chance, Manning took over. He completed 4 of 4 passes for 39 yards on the last drive. Manning, who has thrown seven touchdown passes and 10 interceptions this season, finished 26 of 48 for 290 yards and the one TD, a 75-yarder to Emmanuel Sanders.
The score came just seconds after the Browns had taken their only lead on Karlos Dansby’s 35-yard interception return for a TD.
McCown, who passed for a franchise-record 457 yards last week, went 20 of 39 for 213 yards with two touchdowns to Gary Barnidge and two interceptions, including a costly one with 44 seconds left in regulation as the Browns were driving for a potential game-winning field goal.
Denver cornerback Aqib Talib had a 63-yard interception return for a TD and McManus kicked four field goals as the Broncos won their 11th straight against the Browns.
This one didn’t have much artistic beauty as the Broncos had some dropped passes, penalties and let the Browns hang around.
But Manning, as he has done so many times during his illustrious career, found a way to get his team the win. The 39-year-old has not been dominant this season, leading to talk that his career has reached an end, but Denver is still winning without Manning having to be elite.
The overtime came after a frenetic fourth quarter during which Cleveland took the lead on Dansby’s interception — off a pass bobbled by Denver’s Ronnie Hillman — only to have Manning take it back 14 seconds later with his strike to Sanders.
Denver’s dominating defense, missing injured linebacker DeMarcus Ware, came up with another big play in the first half as Talib’s return gave the Broncos a 10-0 lead.
On the second play of the second quarter, McCown threw a pass toward the right sideline, where Talib was waiting. He made the interception, and after briefly holding the ball out in an early celebration, tucked it away and outran Travis Benjamin to the end zone.
It was Denver’s fourth defensive TD this season and the eighth of Talib’s career.
Hillman rushed for 111 yards on 20 carries. Demaryius Thomas had 10 catches for 111 yards, but let two clutch throws by Manning slip through his hands.