DENVER — 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.
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.
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.
In an interview with The Associated Press and the Denver Post, Eric Weinberger, executive producer of the NFL Network, apologized to viewers and McDaniels for the "terrible mistake."
"It was on delay. We wish we would have caught it and bleeped it," Weinberger said. "We apologize for ever airing anything like that, absolutely, especially on Thanksgiving."
Weinberger added, "Everyone (watching on TV) thought it was live because it was in live speed and it looked live. It came out of the truck. Honestly, we would never go live and raise audio levels on anyone live. On the sidelines, we would never do that. We came out of break and rolled it. It's a mistake."
McDaniels has shown emotion on the sideline before. He often tells his players and assistants to listen to the message and not the way it's delivered. He'll fist-up like Tiger Woods one game and curse to his guys the next.
"We're not in this business to do that," Weinberger said of the network's blunder. "We're in this business to show sports and to show the most emotion that we can show. And the guy is an incredibly emotional, passionate guy."
Denver finally capitalized on its good field position after Dawkins recovered a fumble by backup running back Danny Ware, who was playing because Ahmad Bradshaw was inactive with a foot injury, at the Giants 38.
Brandon Marshall's leaping one-handed 28-yard catch set up Knowshon Moreno's 1-yard TD run that made it 13-0, and Prater added a 47-yarder to give the Broncos a 16-0 halftime lead.
The last time the Giants had gone into the locker room at halftime without any points was Jan. 8, 2006, in a wild-card playoff game against Carolina.
Lawrence Tynes kicked field goals of 39 and 52 yards in the third quarter to pull the Giants to 16-6, but Brandon Stokley's 17-yard TD catch from Orton made it 23-6 and Prater added a 24-yard field goal.
Moreno ran for 88 yards on 19 carries and would have had 34 more yards were it not for holding calls against the usually dependable Graham.
Denver was at a low point following a 32-3 thrashing at the hands of the Chargers on Sunday, when McDaniels exchanged taunts with some of San Diego's linebackers during warmups, then watched his team come undone with silly penalties and an ugly sideline spat.
So, Dawkins called a "no coaches allowed" meeting. Champ Bailey said he liked what he heard but was more excited for what he might see Thursday night because "it's not really what people say, it's what they do."
While some of the frustrations and faults linger – they committed eight penalties Thursday night – the Broncos, who entered November without a loss, saw to it that they didn't exit the month without a win.
NOTES: Giants with injuries included TE Darcy Johnson (shoulder) and S Michael Johnson (groin). ... Broncos WR-KR Eddie Royal injured a thigh late in the first half and LB Wesley Woodyard left the game in the fourth quarter with a neck injury after DL Marcus Thomas went out with a shoulder injury.