DENVER -- The Denver Broncos' much maligned offensive line broke their silence last week. They made an earsplitting statement Sunday.
Behind blockers angry over being scapegoated for the team's myriad problems, the Broncos found the balance, ground game and pocket of protection that had eluded them during their recent slide.
"We all needed to be accountable to our teammates," guard Orlando Franklin said. "We felt we've been letting our teammates down and not taking care of business."
With perfect balance -- 35 runs and 35 throws -- the Broncos (8-3) overcame an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to stay atop the highly competitive AFC West.
"They took so much (heat) during the week," Anderson said of the O-line, which is building chemistry on the run after wholesale changes three weeks ago. "They're still human and some of them got feelings. They're not going to tell you, but some of them were hurt."
"You just have to give it up to the big boys up front. They took so much heat the outside and the media all week," said Anderson, who added 28 yards on four catches.
His consolation was three touchdowns.
"Nah," Thomas said he asked if he was disappointed. "... I just wanted to win the game. I had a decent game, helped the team. The main thing is we won the game."
Tannehill (26 of 36 for 227 yards with three TDs) kept the Dolphins a step ahead much of the afternoon.
Miami went ahead 28-17 on Tannehill's 5-yard TD toss to Landry after Isaiah Burse fumbled a punt at his own 12.
Manning drove the Broncos downfield and found Thomas from 5 yards out, then hit Sanders with the 2-point pass to pull Denver to 28-25 with 14:09 remaining.
"I thought the best thing our team did was we stayed pretty calm," Manning said. "We just had a real calm demeanor the entire game. Everybody did. And that definitely proved to be a key factor late in the game."
His teammates could hardly hide their anguish. On the sideline, guard Manny Ramirez ripped his helmet off and hollered as Thomas slammed his helmet to the ground.
"To come away with no points was really disappointing," Manning said, "and once again it could have been that 'this is not our day' type of mentality. We just said, 'Hey, it's obviously going to be a dogfight.'"
"They're known for throwing the ball all over the place," cornerback Brent Grimes said. "They had a plan to run the ball and control the game like that. They did a good job of it."
Franklin was happy for the one-week reprieve from the criticism.
"This is the NFL. One week, you're great and the next week, they're talking about you like they talked about you last week," he said. "It really doesn't matter what everybody else thinks as long as we got the win tonight and as long as our teammates are happy with each and every one of us."
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press