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Broncos 31, Bengals 23: Taking it by the numbers

CINCINNATI – Notable numbers from the Broncos’ 31-23 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium here Sunday:

105: Yards covered by Trindon Holliday on his second-half-opening kickoff return. It was the longest play of any kind in Broncos history and their first kickoff return for a touchdown since Cassius Vaughn’s 97-yard return in Week 17 of the 2010 season against San Diego.

235: Points scored by the Broncos this season, the fourth-most in team history, good for an average of 29.4 points per game. It’s the fourth time the Broncos have averaged more than 29 points per game halfway through the season; in two of the previous three instances, they won the Super Bowl. The lone exception was 2000, when they finished 11-5.

3: Touchdowns thrown by Peyton Manning, giving him five consecutive games with at least three scoring passes. That also pushed his total for the season to 20, leaving him on pace for 40. That would be the second-best of his career, the ninth-best in NFL history and would break the Broncos’ single-season record by 13.

5: Sacks by the Broncos on Sunday, which takes their season total to 24, putting them on pace for 48. That would be their best single-season tally since 1999, when the Broncos had the most recent of their four seasons with 50 or more sacks (1984, 1991, 1992, 1999). They had 50 sacks in 1970, but sacks weren’t an official statistic then.

Denver’s sacks have been on the upswing since last year, when John Fox arrived, Von Miller was drafted and Elvis Dumervil returned from a torn pectoral muscle. In 2010, the Broncos had just 23 sacks, the lowest total for a full 16-game schedule since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.

Miller is on pace for 18 sacks, which would be a franchise record. Dumervil is on pace for 12. The Broncos have never had a season in which they had two players with at least 12 sacks; with good health, that could change this year.

64.3: Percentage of third downs the Broncos converted Sunday, which was their highest of the season and a solid rebound from going 6-of-21 (33.3 percent) on third downs the previous two games. The Broncos have converted 47.1 percent of their third downs and permitted conversion on 40.5 percent of opponents’ third downs, including just 23.1 percent (six of 26) the last two weeks.

100: Percentage of third downs converted by the Broncos when they had five yards or less to gain (9-for-9).

Zero: Percentage of third-downs converted when the Broncos had to gain six yards or more (0-for-5).

12-to-2: Pass-to-run ratio on third downs Sunday for the Broncos.

8.7: Yardage gained per pass play on the Broncos’ third downs. Manning went 9-of-12 for 87 yards, a touchdown and an interception on third down; in spite of the pickoff, he still managed an 87.8 quarterback rating.

6.5: Yardage per rush on the Broncos’ third downs.

51: Career interceptions by Champ Bailey after his fourth-quarter catch of an Andy Dalton heave Sunday. The Broncos have six interceptions in the last three games after posting just two in the first five.

63.2: Percentage of teams since 2002 that started 5-3 and ended up in the playoffs. It’s also worth noting that the Broncos were even better than this and missed the playoffs three times in that span (6-2 in 2002, 2006 and 2009), reminding all that there are no guarantees.

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