CINCINNATI (AP) — Peyton Manning had no trouble clearing those two interceptions out of his head on Sunday and leading a fourth-quarter comeback.
“I’ve been there before,” the four-time MVP said.
And no one’s ever been better at it.
Manning threw for a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter, rallying the Denver Broncos to a 31-23 victory that left him 8-0 against the Cincinnati Bengals, who couldn’t hold on when they thought they might finally have him.
Instead, Manning led the 48th game-winning drive of his career, moving ahead of Dan Marino for the NFL record. He completed all six of his passes in the final quarter, when Denver (5-3) got a firsthand idea of how he responds to the biggest moments.
“He is special at it,” coach John Fox said.
Manning threw three touchdown passes Sunday, giving him five games against Cincinnati with at least three TDs.
His two second-half interceptions — one in the end zone, both by cornerback Terence Newman — helped the Bengals pull ahead 20-17 early in the fourth quarter.
“That’s not the scenario we wanted,” Manning said. “Anytime you’re on the road and have a chance to put a team away, you want to do it. You don’t want to give a team a little life, which is what we did.”
In the end, it didn’t matter. Denver has outscored its opponents 103-23 in the final quarter, the biggest point differential in the league.
“There’s no panic,” receiver Brandon Stokley said. “That’s what this team is all about.”
Manning’s 1-yard touchdown to tight end Joel Dreessen put Denver ahead. After Andy Dalton underthrew a pass that was picked off by Champ Bailey, Manning put it away with a 4-yard pass to Eric Decker with 3:36 left.
“He’s a great competitor,” Stokley said. “He is who he is, and it’s what I’ve seen from him for 14 years.”
Manning was 27 of 35 for 291 yards for a passer rating of 105.8. He came up 9 yards short of tying Steve Young’s NFL record of five straight games with 300 yards and three touchdown passes.
After a neck injury threatened his career and ended his stay in Indianapolis, Manning has regained his touch with Denver. The Broncos have scored 37, 21, 35, 34 and 31 points in their past five games, winning four of them.
“I think this team needs to go through different scenarios and have one of these tight second-half games,” Manning said. “The more you can go through it as a unit, the more you can draw on it later in the season. Anytime you can win going through those scenarios, that’s a plus.”