By ADAM H. BEASLEY
Tribune News Service
DENVER -- Another fourth-quarter lead against a quality opponent.
Another fourth-quarter collapse by the Dolphins' defense.
C.J. Anderson ran 10 yards untouched to the end zone, completing a Broncos rally and sending Miami home with a 39-36 loss that was as painful as it was familiar.
Yet again, the Dolphins could not protect a lead, surrendering 22 points in the fourth quarter alone.
And the offense, which had been so good in the first half, failed when the Dolphins needed it the most. With the Dolphins down by four and driving, a Ryan Tannehill pass bounced off Jarvis Landry's usually sure hands and into the arms of T.J. Ward.
That led to a 2-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Wes Welker, putting the game away.
Manning finished 28 of 35 for 257 yards and four touchdowns. The Dolphins (6-5) surrendered 201 yards on the ground.
Tannehill did connect with Jarvis Landry for a touchdown late -- Landry's second of the day -- but Denver (8-3) fell on the onside kick to survive. Tannehill went 26 of 36 for 228 yards, three touchdowns and the untimely pick.
The big question in the buildup to Sunday's game was how the Dolphins would deal with Denver's rush ends. Their answer on the first drive: run the ball and stay out of third-and-longs.
Miami went 80 yards in seven plays, capped by Daniel Thomas' first touchdown of the season -- a 3-yard run.
The Broncos answered with a sustained drive of their own on their initial drive, moving to the red zone before Jamar Taylor dropped Jacob Tamme short of the sticks on third down. Brandon McManus boomed through a 38-yard field goal to put Denver on the board.
The Dolphins, meanwhile, kept the foot down on the pedal. Tannehill capped an eight-play, 47-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown on a designed run -- his first rushing score of the season.
Manning answered right back, connecting with Demaryius Thomas on a 5-yard touchdown pass. Jelani Jenkins' coverage was good. Manning's throw was better.
And here's how the Dolphins answered: they overcame three fumbles -- in the same possession -- and the loss of left tackle Ja'Wuan James to a stinger, yet scored nonetheless.
Tannehill directed a 10-play, 87-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown strike to Mike Wallace.
Denver answered right back, and Manning was terrific. First, he connected with Emmanuel Sanders for 35 yards down the left sideline. And then he made it count with a 14-yard touchdown connection with Thomas. The drive took just 1:42 off the clock and cut Miami's lead to four points at the half.
Just how close was it through two quarters? Both teams finished the half with 212 yards of offense.
The Broncos had controlled the ball for nearly seven minutes to start the second half -- and didn't get a point to show for it. Manning gave himself up for a sack on third down, and McManus missed from 33 yards.
Special teams bit the Broncos again, as Isaiah Burse coughed up a punt -- thanks to a hard hit by Damien Williams. John Denney recovered the fumble, and the Dolphins were in business deep in Broncos territory.
And the Dolphins dodged a bullet, thanks again to a Denver miscue. Tannehill appeared to throw an interception on third-and-10, but a defensive holding by Ward kept the drive alive. Tannehill made it count by rifling a 5-yard touchdown pass to Landry.
But the Dolphins suffered a double-whammy on their next play. Already without Cortland Finnegan, they lost Jamar Taylor to a shoulder injury. And Manning connected with Thomas in the end zone for the third time. The converted two-point try made it a three-point game with 14:09 to play.