The Denver Broncos still have their troubles with the red zone and yellow flags. The dark cloud that hung over them during their month of misery, though, is gone.
Kyle Orton drove them on six scoring drives, Matt Prater kicked four field goals and safety Brian Dawkins led a ferocious defense 48 hours after calling a players-only meeting, and the Broncos beat the New York Giants, 26-6, Thursday night in Denver.
Elvis Dumervil dumped Eli Manning twice, extending his NFL-leading sack total to 14. Dumervil’s second one came in the fourth quarter and resulted in a fumble that sealed Denver’s first win since Oct. 19.
Hosting their first Thanksgiving game since 1963 in the AFL, the Broncos returned to the physical style of play that marked their 6-0 start and ditched the sieve that was their defense during their four-game skid.
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Behind three takeaways, the Broncos (7-4) halted their freefall and pulled within a half game of AFC West leader San Diego. New York (6-5), which snapped its four-game losing streak on Sunday, fell two games behind Dallas, which beat Oakland earlier Thursday, in the NFC East.
The Broncos outgained the Giants 213-38 in the first half but settled for field goals on three drives, including their first two trips inside the Giants 10-yard line as they continued their monthlong red zone struggles.
That led to an embarrassing mistake by the NFL Network, which accidentally aired a profanity from Broncos coach Josh McDaniels.
After reaching the 7, the Broncos settled for Prater’s 22-yarder and a 3-0 lead.
Their second trip inside the Giants 10-yard line turned into a game of flag football as tight end Daniel Graham, left tackle Ryan Clady and center Casey Wiegmann all were whistled for false starts, and the Broncos sent out Prater for a 32-yarder that made it 6-0.
Coming out of a commercial break following that second field goal, the NFL Network showed a clip of McDaniels yelling at his players on the sideline saying, “All we’re trying to do is win a (expletive) game!”
The vulgarity was clearly audible to viewers, and announcer Bob Papa immediately apologized to viewers.
Packers 34, at Lions 12: Aaron Rodgers matched a career high with three touchdown passes as Green Bay beat Detroit, giving the Packers three straight wins and improving their playoff prospects.
The Lions lost their sixth straight game on Thanksgiving, setting a franchise record, and had an emotional setback after their biggest comeback win since 1957.
Matthew Stafford, playing with a sore nonthrowing shoulder, threw one touchdown pass and four interceptions after passing for five scores in Sunday’s win over Cleveland.
At Cowboys 24, Raiders 7: Tony Romo snapped Dallas from its offensive slumber by leading it to a season-high 494 yards, with Miles Austin delivering 145 yards and a touchdown.
By winning for the sixth time in seven games, Dallas (8-3) is guaranteed of going into the final month of the season atop the NFC East.
Oakland (3-8) and its new starting quarterback, Bruce Gradkowski, were coming off a victory over division-leading Cincinnati just a few days before, but couldn’t even cross midfield in the first half.