Final Score: Broncos 51, Cowboys 48

It took all 60 minutes, and 51 points to do it, but the Broncos extended their regular-season winning streak to 16 games with a 51-48 (Gamebook) win in a shootout for the ages between Peyton Manning and Tony Romo.

The Cowboys started things off with a gorgeous 11-play drive that consumed 79 yards and nearly seven minutes; Romo was 5-of-5 for 64 yards and a two-yard score to Dez Bryant.

Denver overcame a big holding penalty on Louis Vasquez, but on a would-be third-down conversion, Eric Decker fumbled the ball back to the Cowboys on the Denver 45.

Dallas quickly capitalized, jumping out to a 14-0 lead on several more big throws from Romo and a four-yard touchdown run by DeMarco Murray.

But just as fast, Decker redeemed himself with a 57-yard catch-and-run, leading to a four-yard shovel pass touchdown to Julius Thomas. In just 50 seconds, the Broncos had gone 80 yards and gotten back to within 14-7.

Although the Cowboys again gashed Denver's defense on the next drive, a timely coverage sack forced Dallas into a 43-yard field goal that made it 17-7 early in the second quarter.

Of course, field goals are just no good against this team, and Manning led the Broncos on another 80-yard scoring march, capped off by a one-yard throw to Decker, who made a beautiful catch in tight coverage. Suddenly, Denver was within three, at 17-14.

They got the ball again just seconds later, as Dez Bryant was stripped by Kayvon Webster (who is seemingly always making a positive play), the ball recovered by Duke Ihenacho.

Short fields are an especially lethal killer against the Broncos, who cashed in with a 41-yard drive and nine-yard touchdown pass to Julius Thomas.

With that, Peyton had his third touchdown of the game and 19th of the season, which broke Daunte Culpepper's record for the most through five games. For Orange Julius, it was his sixth touchdown of the season.

Denver forced a three-and-out on the next series, and Manning drove the Broncos for yet another score, capping a 64-yard drive with a rare and untouched rushing touchdown of his own. After spotting Dallas a 14-0 lead, the Broncos were up 28-17.

They left a little too much time on the clock, though, and Romo made one of his typical sandlot plays to get the Cowboys into range for a 48-yard field goal at the gun, making the score 28-20 Denver at halftime.

It was a costly drive for the Broncos, who lost Chris Harris to a concussion.

As has been habitual during Manning's time in Denver, the Broncos took the second-half kickoff and motored for a touchdown, with Wes Welker's two-yard catch completing a 67-yard drive.

With Peyton's fourth touchdown pass (fifth overall) and 20th of the season, Denver jumped out to a seemingly commanding 35-20 lead.

The Cowboys didn't go into a shell, though, as Romo hit Terrance Williams for an 82-yard touchdown pass just seconds later, getting Dallas back to within 35-27.

After five straight TD drives, Denver settled for a 48-yard field goal from Matt Prater on its ensuing possession, giving them a 38-27 advantage.

But as with the Broncos, field goals aren't very good against this Cowboys offense, at least not on this Sunday.

Romo orchestrated an 80-yard drive and two-yard touchdown pass to Bryant, but the two-point attempt failed, so the Broncos kept a 38-33 lead.

On the next snap, Manning underthrew Decker, who was open deep, and Morris Claiborne came away with the ball for Peyton's first interception of the season.

Romo & Co. took over at their own 49-yard line and took full advantage, as Jason Witten caught a 10-yard pass, and Williams added a two-point conversion to give Dallas a 41-38 edge.

The Cowboys got some pressure on Peyton on the next drive, and held the Broncos to a 50-yard attempt from Prater, who knotted the game at 41 with under 10 minutes remaining.

But again, field goals weren't going to get it done, and Romo overcame poor field position with a 79-yard pass to Bryant which put him over 500 yards on the day. On the very next snap, Romo hit Cole Beasley on a four-yard catch-and-run for his fifth touchdown pass of the game.

Denver would not settle for a mere field goal for three straight possessions, instead eating up 73 yards in nine plays, including a one-yard touchdown run by Moreno.

Although the game was again tied - at 48 - the 2:39 left on the clock for Romo's Cowboys seemed like too much for Denver's good.

Turns out, it was just enough time, as the Broncos pressured Romo into a sack (by Shaun Phillips, his second of the day) and interception by Danny Trevathan.

Taking over at the 24-yard line, Denver moved in close and ran the clock down, setting up Matt Prater for the game-winner from 28, which was good.

With that, the Broncos advanced their record to 5-0 and will host the hapless Jaguars next Sunday in Denver.

Key Numbers

  • Manning and Romo combined for 920 passing yards and 10 total touchdowns on the day
  • Peyton has thrown for four touchdown passes in consecutive games, and three times on the season
  • Knowshon Moreno had 150 yards from scrimmage and the one touchdown, on 24 touches
  • Julius Thomas caught nine passes for 122 yards and two scores
  • Five Broncos (Thomas, Decker, Moreno, Demaryius Thomas, and Welker) had at least five catches
  • Welker's seven touchdown catches are one more than his 2012 total
  • Prater has been perfect on 29 points after and eight field goals this season
  • The two teams combined for a whopping 58 first downs and 1,039 yards
  • Denver was 9/13 on third downs, while Dallas only faced six (!) third downs, converting four of them
  • The Broncos held the ball for 32:34 against 27:26 for the Cowboys


Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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