FINAL FROM DENVER: Broncos 34, Browns 12

PAUL KLEE Updated: December 23, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: December 23, 2012

DENVER — The Broncos will find something, somewhere that deserves their attention in Monday's film session.

But to the commoner's eye, Denver's 34-12 rout of Cleveland at Sports Authority Field on Sunday was another masterpiece designed by John Fox's club.

The Broncos (12-3) won their 10th straight game on the strength of a smothering defense and Peyton Manning's latest gem. Denver has won more than 10 straight only once (13, 1998).

Houston's home loss to Minnesota opened the door for the Broncos to steal the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff bracket, as well.

Denver needs two things to happen to earn homefield advantage throughout the playoffs: beat Kansas City next Sunday and watch Houston lose on the road at Indianapolis.

Von Miller broke Elvis Dumervil's single-season Broncos sack record. The second-year linebacker has 17.5 sacks this season. Manning passed for 300 yards and three touchdowns for the fifth time this season. Eric Decker caught two touchdown passes.

Still, the Broncos will argue this wasn't a complete effort. Cleveland (5-10) scored a garbage-time touchdown — its first touchdown of the day, engineered by backup quarterback Colt McCoy — with 7:56 left in regulation. Returners Trindon Holliday and Jim Leonhard each muffed punts.

With the regular-season finale up next, the Broncos have their motivation to improve.

Gazette.com Live Report — Broncos 21, Browns 3 — 3:59 left in the third quarter

-These Browns aren't bad. They have players, if their youth shows. Remind me somewhat of the Bucs (last year). Big-armed quarterback, gifted young running back, overzealous defense.

-Von Miller tied Elvis Dumervil for the franchise's sack record — then was credited with half of a sack. So Miller Time (that's tattooed on his chest) is at 16.5, while Dumervil's record is 17.

-Now Miller is at 17.5 sacks. He has the record alone. And a new sack dance. I asked him the other day if he was serious about having a dance choreographer. Straight-faced, he said, "Yeah."

-Did they show this on the broadcast? After Decker's second touchdown catch, a man in the front row of the North end zone flipped over the railing while trying to grab the football.

He's wearing a white sportcoat and orange top hat. Mile High went "Ohhhhh" at first, then "Yeahhhhh!" when he was OK.

-Denver's tight ends are having a big, big day. Manning is spreading it around. The QB also has 34 TD passes this season — his second-most in a single season.

-The Browns are not so fortunate. Colt McCoy is now at quarterback.

-And the important stuff: Broncos cheerleaders switched from their Santa get-ups back to the rugged chaps look. Ramsey told me so. I didn't notice.

Back in a few. Klee

Gazette.com Live Report — Broncos 14, Browns 3 — Halftime

-Still don't understand the Ronnie Hillman draft pick.

-Midway through the second quarter, Peyton Manning's QB rating: 142 (12-for-14, 120 yards, two touchdowns).

-After spending last night at Pepsi Center, Brandon Stokley's screen might have been the best screen set in Denver this (football/basketball) season.

-Be worried about the Nuggets. Their issue isn't one that can be fixed (sans trade): consistent outside shooting.

-Don't shout (at) the messenger: Colts are locked into the No. 5 seed. Don't know how motivated they will be against Texans next week. Nothing to gain, except momentum.

-Denver safety Mike Adams is highly motivated today. He spent the past five years with the Browns and said his phone has been blowing up with "lots of trash talk." One of the nicest guys in the Broncos locker room, gave a great interview on 104.3 The Fan on Thursday.

-Working on a column for next week: Will Champ Bailey go down as the best defensive player in Broncos history? Still in the process of gathering opinions.

-Peyton Manning's first half was nearly flawless — aside from the red-zone INT to close the half.

Back in a few. Klee

Gazette.com Live Report — Broncos 14, Browns 3 — 10:15 left in second quarter

-Do believe Broncos fans appreciate what they're watching with Peyton Manning. We need only one hand to count his "bad" passes during this winning streak. His two touchdown strikes today... only a few guys could pull them off.

-Tracy Porter (concussion) has been ruled out for the rest of the game. Right or wrong, John Fox will be questioned about his decision to sit Tony Carter.

-Certainly a full house today. Those in the East stands need sunscreen again.

-Think I can see my house from here.

-The Bud Light guy in Section 314 is dancing Gangnam Style. It seems to be helping sales.

-Again, Brandon Weeden is a player. And a baseball player. He was drafted by the Yankees in the second round of the 2002 MLB draft.

-Rahim Moore deserves an Oscar for that performance. His would-be pick-6 clearly bounced... and was reversed. Browns maintained possession.

-Where's Santa? NORAD is on the case.

Back in a few. Klee

Gazette.com Live Report — Broncos 7, Browns 3 — 4:35 left in first quarter

-No one on the Broncos roster is enjoying this run more than Trindon Holliday. And the lively, talkative, animated personality you see on the field is quite different from his locker-roomdemeanor. He's a reserved, quiet guy who doesn't say a whole lot.

-Holliday's still 5-foot-6 in the locker room, though.

-As if to emphasize his season-long point, Peyton Manning leads the Broncos on a game-opening TD drive. It took 2 minutes, 50 seconds. His point: Broncos are going week-by-week and won't overlook anyone.

-Here's the best-case scenario for the Broncos: Win out and Houston loses at Indianapolis next week. That would give Denver homefield advantage throughout — and the Broncos would avoid the pesky Patriots until the AFC championship.

-Broncos star Von Miller (Texas A&M) never sacked Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State) in their Big 12 days.

"I did get a roughing-the-passer penalty," Miller said at Dove Valley. "I didn't think it was a penalty."

-Weeden is a player. If not for his age (29) and the need for a developmental quarterback, Broncos could've done a lot worse in the draft.

-Jack Del Rio's defense continues to flourish in big third-down situations. Cleveland's impressive opening drive ended with a field goal. 

-Tracy Porter's return to the lineup might be short-lived. He was woozy heading to the sideline and now has the athletic training staff around him.

Back in a few. Klee

Gazette.com Live Report — Cleveland Browns (5-9) at Broncos (11-3) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High (2:05 p.m. MST)

-The guy with the Cutler jersey sits in Section 316. I know what his Christmas present is.

-Largely due to those early season comebacks (or near-comebacks), the Broncos have a plus-133 second-half scoring differential this season. That's tops in the NFL — by 61 points.

-This Vikings win against the Texans really shakes things up in the AFC. It's possible the Broncos-Pats rematch — the one I completely expect — could take place in Denver... in the AFC championship. That would require A) a Texans loss at Indianapolis B) the Broncos and Pats winning out.

-Great to have Gazette columnist David Ramsey and expert photographer Mark Reis here at Sports Authority Field today. The Gazette is well-represented and will pack Monday's paper.

-Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler took the field to loud applause. The Broncos are heading to the locker room one more time.

Back in a few. Klee

Gazette.com Live Report — Cleveland Browns (5-9) at Broncos (11-3) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High (2:05 p.m. MST)

-Only real surprise on the inactive list: Tony Carter is a healthy scratch. Carter had played in the previous 14 games. Welcome back, Tracy Porter. This figures to be a scrutinized move in a secondary that has been nearly flawless. Chris Harris has been the revelation there.

-Matt Schaub is the reason I won't trust Houston to win this Super Bowl.

-If the Vikings hold on, the Colts can return the favor. Peyton Manning built their stadium, now the Colts, who host Houston next Sunday, can give back to their former quarterback. Two Broncos wins (and two Texans losses) would give Denver the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

-Broncos on the field right now: Eric Decker, Trindon Holliday, David Bruton, Joel Dreesen, Britton Colquitt and Matt Prater.

-A huddle of Browns fans were trash-talking in the otherwise-festive North parking lot before the game. It was a heated. Guess they haven't gotten over The Drive.

-Jerseys in the stands right now: Manning, Miller, Decker, Atwater, Terrell Davis, Rod Smith.

-The wind is swirling. See if that's a factor today. Back in a few. Klee

Gazette.com Live Report — Cleveland Browns (5-9) at Broncos (11-3) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High (Kickoff: 2:05 p.m. MST)

Afternoon everyone. Columnist Paul Klee joining you from the press box for our weekly Live Report. Please — feel free to shoot me any observations, suggestions, complaints, virtual hugs or thoughts on the game via Twitter (@Klee_Gazette) or email (paul.klee@gazette.com). Some of the players (Joel Dreesen, Jacob Tamme) are on the field, so let's get started...

-The sun is out, of course. I've been convinced of two things since returning to Colorado: the sun's always shining and the Broncos never lose. Andrew Mason, one of the fine journos that covers the Broncos, contends it may not be the Trindon Holliday Effect, but the Klee effect. Holliday hasn't lost this season — with the Texans or the Broncos.

That would be a story, wouldn't it? If the Broncos run the table through New Orleans, the tiny returner from Louisiana would rival the '72 Dolphins with an undefeated season.

-Tamme and Dreesen — two of the productive tight ends in Mike McCoy's offense — run corner routes about 2 hours before every game. One tight end throws to the other. They're going through the pregame routine right now in the North end zone.

-All eyes in the stadium are on the Jumbotron, which broadcasts the NFL RedZone. Specifically, all eyes are on the Vikings-Texans game. The Vikings have a 10-point lead at the half. A Houston loss would keep the Broncos in the running for the No. 1 overall seed.

-Everyone from John Fox to Peyton Manning to Kevin Vickerson to Champ Bailey to Wesley Woodyard to the Dove Valley security detail said this week the Broncos would not overlook the Browns or Chiefs. Denver still has plenty to play for — namely, more home games.

"We've got enough veterans in this locker room to know those guys (the opponents) are getting paid, too," Woodyard said.

-Denver has won nine straight games. A win today would tie the Broncos' second-longest winning streak in franchise history. Only the '98 Broncos won more than 10 straight. The won 13 straight.

-How is it being done? The defense — not Peyton Manning's offense — is the biggest reason. Consider these NFL rankings during Denver's nine-game winning streak: No. 1 in rushing defense, No. 1 in opponents rushing TDs, No. 1 in opponents rushing average, No. 1 in sacks and No. 2 in interceptions. It's a remarkable combination: the Broncos are No. 2 in sacks and No. 2 in rushing defense. Don't see that very often.

-Here was our Broncos column from today's Gazette: Jack Del Rio and Mike McCoy will be on the short list of head-coaching candidates after this season. I expect both will be gone. Column link.

Back in a few. Klee

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