Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Denver Broncos: Live Score, Highlights and Analysis
The Denver Broncos have won their second straight AFC West title after a convincing victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Broncos struggled in the first half, as the Buccaneers held a 10-7 lead entering halftime. Denver's offense struggled to move the football and outside of an opening drive that resulted in a touchdown pass to defensive lineman Mitch Unrein, Tampa Bay's defense gave Peyton Manning fits.
But after settling down, the Broncos came out firing in the third quarter. Denver outscored the Buccaneers in the decisive third quarter, 21-0 to take hold of a lead that they would never relinquish. The Buccaneers failed to move the football until the fourth quarter when they were already down 31-13.
Manning threw three touchdown passes in breaking the single-season franchise record previously held by John Elway and Jake Plummer. Manning now has 29 touchdown passes on the season. Manning went 27-38 for 242 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in this game.
The Broncos (9-3) will travel to Oakland on Thursday night and will look to remain perfect in divisional play. The Buccaneers (6-6) will look to bounce back after this loss and remain in the NFC Wild Card hunt as they receive a visit from Philadelphia.
Broncos Defeat Buccaneers 31-23; Win AFC West Title for Second Straight Year
The Broncos struggled in the first half, dominated the third quarter, then played relaxed in the fourth quarter before holding on to defeat Tampa Bay 31-23 Sunday night.
Through it all, the Broncos won and have clinched the AFC West title in Week 13. In the process of their victory, Denver has clinched the AFC West for the second straight year. This is the first time since 1986-87, that the Broncos have won consecutive AFC West division titles in back-to-back years.
Denver will play the Oakland Raiders in the "Black Hole" on Thursday Night Football. The Buccaneers will play Philadelphia next Sunday afternoon.
Josh Freeman Throws Touchdown Pass to cut deficit to 31-23
The Buccaneers have shown some life in the fourth quarter. Freeman has thrown a touchdown pass to Mike Williams to cut the score to 31-23 with 2:33 remaining in the game.
With the Broncos playing relaxed on defense, Freeman drove the Buccaneers down the field 47 yards in four plays in 36 seconds for the touchdown.
The Broncos have just recovered the onside kick and at the two minute warning, the Broncos lead 31-23 and look to complete just the fourth seven-game winning streak in franchise history.
Connor Barth Hits a 55-Yard Field Goal to Cut Score to 31-16
After Matt Prater's miss on the other side of the field, Josh Freeman drove the Buccaneers down the field to put kicker Connor Barth in position to kick a field goal to cut the deficit to a two possession game.
Barth's previous career long was for 53 yards.
The Buccaneers would proceed to kick off the ball to the end zone for a touchback, instead of kicking an onside kick with the possibility of a recovery.
With 3:14 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Buccaneers trail the Broncos 31-16.
Matt Prater Field Goal Gives Broncos 31-13 Lead in Fourth Quarter
It may not have been a touchdown, but the Broncos scored again. To top it all off, they ate up clock by eating up 7:19 of the fourth quarter on 13 plays that went 68 yards.
The Broncos moved the ball on assortment of receptions by Jacob Tamme and run plays for Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno. The running game hasn't been much of a factor today, but on a perfect example of the pass setting up the run, Moreno has ran for a solid 61 yards on just 13 carries. That is nearly 5.0 yards a carry.
The second half has been dominated by Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense on clock-eating drives. All of the competitiveness in this game evaporated as soon as the Broncos scored to take a 14-10 lead in the beginning of the third quarter.
With 7:36 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Broncos are up 31-13.
Lavonte David Interception Gives Buccaneers Life
Peyton Manning isn't perfect. No matter how good he seems to be.
With the Broncos threatening to close out the game and further the punishment on Tampa Bay at the 40-yard-line of TB, Manning threw an underthrown pass over the middle of the field that was picked off by linebacker Lavonte David. David returned the interception for 25 yards.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter with 14:55 remaining, Connor Barth has hit a 49-yard field goal to cut the lead to 28-13.
Broncos Take 28-10 Lead with Von Miller Touchdown
Remember when this game was 10-7 in favor of the Buccaneers?
Hard to believe that was less than an hour ago. The Broncos have outscored the Buccaners 21-0 in the third quarter with four minutes still left to go as Von Miller picks off Josh Freeman for a 26-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Freeman was under pressure when Mitch Unrein hit him from behind and forced the errant interception throw to Miller.
This will no doubt help Von in his bid for Defensive Player of the Year, as Von won AFC Defensive Player of the Month honors in November. Miller now has 14 sacks, 24 tackles for loss and 39 total tackles on the season. Tack on a touchdown to those totals now.
The Broncos lead the Buccaneers 28-10 with 3:56 remaining in the third quarter.
Broncos Take 21-10 Lead on Manning's Third Touchdown Pass of Game
And the Broncos offense that we expected in this game has finally shown up.
Better late than never, right?
Manning completed his third touchdown pass of the game to Demaryius Thomas on a 10-yard pass play. The Broncos have dominated the third quarter over the Buccaneers, having totaled 110 yards and having held the ball for over eight minutes. The Buccaneers on the other hand, have ran just six plays for 10 total yards on two three-and-outs.
The Broncos look to be running away with this game unless Josh Freeman and the Buccaneers have enough firepower in them to respond.
With 4:39 remaining in the third quarter, the Broncos are up 21-10.
Broncos Finally Take Lead on Demaryius Thomas Touchdown
The Broncos have taken their first lead since opening up the game with a 7-0 lead. After starting out the drive with great field position at their own 48-yard-line, Manning drove the Broncos down the field 52 yards in just four plays in 1:34 to give the Broncos a 14-10 lead. The drive was culminated with an eight yard touchdown pass to Thomas.
Tampa's offense has struggled to move the football lately and by failing to gain a first down when pinned inside their own 10-yard-line last drive, it gave Denver an opportunity to take over the ball once again in good field position.
Although Denver's offense has been inconsistent thus far, Tampa Bay's offense has had to start inside their own 10-yard-line three different times in this game alone.
The Broncos are winning the field position battle and that is why despite a slow start offensively, they hold a 14-10 lead with 9:21 remaining in the third quarter.
Broncos Offense Again Shut Down on First Drive of Second Half
Tampa Bay's defense has played outstanding thus far. The Broncos once again fail to score, this time on their first drive of the second half. Denver had one first down on a nifty throw by Peyton Manning to Knowshon Moreno while Moreno was on the ground, but that was the only highlight the offense could muster.
Denver is just 2-for-6 on third down conversions. That may be the most telling statistic of them all.
Well, other than Denver's seven points on the board.
With 11:55 remaining in the third quarter, the Bucs continue to hold a 10-7 lead.
Tampa Bay Enters Halftime with 10-7 Lead
Buccaneers fans have to be feeling good about this game entering halftime.
Tampa Bay leads the Broncos 10-7. The Broncos offense has sputtered since their first drive of the game, failing to score at all since opening up with a touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Mitch Unrein. On the Broncos' last three offensive drives of the half, they punted three straight times, had one three-and-out and on 16 plays gained just 85 yards.
The Buccaneers offense hasn't been impressive, but they've been better than Denver thus far. On the Bucs' signature offensive drive thus far, Josh Freeman had a 40-yard pass to receive Mike Williams and an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Clark.
This game has been marked by solid defensive play and sloppy penalties that have negative a couple of big plays.
Denver's high-powered offense has been shut down thus far by Tampa Bay's defense. Considering the Bucs had the 31st-ranked pass defense entering this game, it has to be considered a surprise that Manning has been held to 108 yards passing.
On a side note, during the second quarter, Manning passed Dan Marino for second place all-time on the career completions list with a completion to Knowshon Moreno.
At halftime, the Buccaneers lead 10-7.
Chris Harris INT taken back due to Von Miller Penalty
The new rules protecting passers can be irritating....the Broncos can attest to that.
Josh Freeman threw an interception in double coverage to Broncos cornerback Chris Harris, but the play was called back due to Von Miller hitting Freeman low.
Denver's offense sputtered at the Tampa Bay 47-yard-line last drive and they were forced to punt it.
The Buccaneers are currently at midfield hoping to add to their 10-7 as Denver's offense has failed to move the ball a considerable margin in their past two drives. The Buccaneers have held the ball for nearly 15 minutes so far in this game, while the Broncos have held the ball less than 11 minutes.
With 4:44 remaining in the first half, the Buccaneers lead the Broncos 10-7.
Buccaneers Take 10-7 Lead on Dallas Clark Touchdown
Going into this game, all you heard about was Peyton Manning's bid for his fifth MVP award and how explosive the Broncos offense is.
Well, how about them Bucs?
The Buccaneers utilized two play-action plays for the two biggest plays of the game, including an 11-yard touchdown pass from Josh Freeman to Dallas Clark.
Freeman completed a 40-yard play-action pass to Mike Williams to put the Buccaneers within striking distance.
Tampa Bay drove 70 yards on five plays in just 2:31 to take the lead.
Now the Broncos offense needs to score in order to keep up with the Buccaneers offense. What a role reversal, huh?
At the end of the first quarter, the Buccaneers lead the Broncos 10-7.
Uneven Drive by the Broncos
A holding call and a fumbled snap on third down doomed the Broncos on their second drive of the game.
A three-and-out on Denver's second drive of the game resulted in no positive yardage gained.
This is a pivotal drive for the Bucs, as early as it is, as they will most certainly need to keep pace with the Broncos offensively if they are to remain competitive in this game.
The Buccaneers will take over at their own 30-yard-line as they trail 7-3 with 2:45 remaining in the first quarter.
Bucs Drive Down the Field and Answer Back with Field Goal
It may not have been a touchdown, but the Buccaneers drove back down the field to match Denver's opening-drive touchdown with a score of their own.
Bucs kicker Connor Barth hit a 32-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 7-3.
Doug Martin looked impressive on this drive as he had a nine-yard run and also had a 26-yard catch on a screen pass to put the Buccaneers in scoring position.
Tampa Bay continues to utilize the play-action game as Josh Freeman completed an 11-yard pass for a first down to tight end Luke Stocker on the 66-yard drive.
It looks like the Bucs will rely heavily upon Martin in today's game whether that's running or receiving the ball.
With 4:41 remaining in the first quarter, the Buccaneers trail the Broncos 7-3.
Denver Broncos Take Early 7-0 lead on.....Mitch Unrein Touchdown
The Broncos marched down the field on their first drive of the game on an assortment of short completions by Peyton Manning that culminated in a touchdown pass from Manning to Mitch Unrein.
Unrein, who is a defensive tackle, lined up as an eligible receiver in the goal-line package from the one-yard-line. Manning completed a touchdown pass to Unrein to give the Broncos a 7-0 lead.
The Bucs committed two penalties on successive plays while the Broncos were in the red zone. Manning and Knowshon Moreno took advantage of the situation by getting the Broncos to the one-yard-line.
Denver marched down the field for 65 yards on 10 plays. The Broncos are currently up 7-0 with 8:47 left in the first quarter.
Bucs receive Kickoff to start game
With nine completions today, Peyton Manning will pass Dan Marino for second place all-time on the career list.
The Bucs started at their own 20-yard-line from a touchback. Tampa Bay went three-and-out as the Broncos prevented them from gaining a single first down on two run plays with Doug Martin and a play-action pass by Josh Freeman.
If the Buccaneers are to remain competitive in this game, they are going to have to at least move the ball down the field to place the Broncos offense in less than desirable field position.
QB Caleb Hanie
RB Jacob Hester
TE Julius Thomas
CB Tracy Porter
DE Robert Ayers
WR Brandon Stokley
OL C.J. Davis
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
RB Michael Smith
LB Najee Goode
WR David Douglas
G Derek Hardman
WR David Gilreath
DT Matthew Masifilo
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