DENVER - Denver's defense was so dominant in beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that the Broncos even spared tackle Mitch Unrein to help unclog their sputtering offense.

When he wasn't catching Peyton Manning's first touchdown pass, Unrein helped build a wall of defenders that slowed down Doug Martin, flustered Josh Freeman, and derailed the Bucs in Denver's 31-23 win Sunday.

The Buccaneers hung tough until the third quarter, forcing four consecutive punts after a game-opening TD drive before things got out of hand: Manning threw TD passes to Demaryius Thomas on consecutive drives to erase a 10-7 halftime deficit.

Meanwhile, Martin was held to 56 yards on 18 carries, one of the worst days of his sensational rookie season. Despite becoming mostly one-dimensional, Freeman led the Bucs on two scoring drives in the fourth quarter to make a game of it.

But two plays after Thomas' second TD grab, Unrein blasted Freeman just as he released a throw to Vincent Jackson. Von Miller snared the pass at the 26 and raced untouched into the end zone for his first career pick-6.

Freeman was only sacked once - but that was by Miller, who forced a fumble on the play.

Broncos 31, Bucs 23

Tampa Bay 10 0 0 13 – 23

Denver 7 0 21 3 – 31

First quarter

Den–Unrein 1 pass from Manning (Prater kick), 8:47.

TB–FG Barth 31, 4:41.

TB–Clark 11 pass from Freeman (Barth kick), :14.

Third quarter

Den–D.Thomas 8 pass from Manning (Prater kick), 9:21.

Den–D.Thomas 10 pass from Manning (Prater kick), 4:39.

Den–Miller 26 interception return (Prater kick), 3:56.

Fourth quarter

TB–FG Barth 50, 14:55.

Den–FG Prater 31, 7:36.

TB–FG Barth 55, 3:23.

TB–Williams 5 pass from Freeman (Barth kick), 2:33.

A: 76,432.

TB   Den

First downs 18   25

Total Net Yards 306   333

Rushes-yards 21-71   29-91

Passing 235   242

Punt Returns 1-15   4-95

Kickoff Returns 0-0   1-26

Interceptions Ret. 1-27   1-26

Comp-Att-Int 18-39-1   27-38-1

Sacked-Yards Lost 1-7   0-0

Punts 5-51.4   5-44.8

Fumbles-Lost 1-0   1-0

Penalties-Yards 11-80   8-75

Time of Possession 26:33   33:27

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing: Tampa Bay, Martin 18-56, Ware 1-8, Freeman 2-7. Denver, Moreno 20-69, Hillman 5-29, Ball 2-(minus 2), Manning 2-(minus 5).

Passing: Tampa Bay, Freeman 18-39-1-242. Denver, Manning 27-38-1-242.

Receiving: Tampa Bay, Williams 6-93, Jackson 3-55, Martin 3-42, Clark 3-21, Stocker 2-19, Underwood 1-12. Denver, Tamme 9-89, D.Thomas 8-99, Moreno 4-14, Willis 3-22, Decker 2-17, Unrein 1-1.

Missed Field Goals: Denver, Prater 47 (WR).