DENVER, OCT. 9 -- The Cleveland Browns are feeling a lot better about being 2-3 than are the Denver Broncos.

The Browns emphasized with their 30-29 victory over the Broncos Monday night that they cannot be dismissed in the AFC. As bad as they looked in losing three straight, the Browns showed impressive resiliency by winning in Mile High Stadium for the first time since 1972.

"I told our ballclub coming out here that it's not about anybody's job, it's about this football team," Cleveland Coach Bud Carson said. "We were at a point where we needed to get our heads up and start acting like winners, because the Cleveland Browns have been winners. We were able to do that."

The Broncos, meanwhile, are becoming sidetracked. For the fifth consecutive game, Denver blew a halftime lead.

"It should never have come to this," said linebacker Karl Mecklenburg. "We had a lot of opportunities. We had a lot of missed assignments that they scored on."

The Broncos, winners of the AFC title three of the last four seasons -- beating Cleveland for the championship each time -- are two games behind the Los Angeles Raiders and one behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the West.

Cleveland trails Cincinnati by two games in the AFC Central, which the Browns have won four of the last five years.

"We should have won," quarterback John Elway said. "We simply cannot afford to lose again. We've been close the last four weeks and it's a real problem, and we know we have to take care of it."

The Broncos had their third win in sight until Bernie Kosar rallied Cleveland before 74,814 fans.

The hero was rookie Jerry Kauric, who kicked a 30-yard field goal as time expired.

"It's been years since we won here," he said. "I think this is really going to bring the team together. This win is so big for us. We were playing for Bud and ourselves."

The Browns, who had struggled with Denver's defense, were looking at a nine-point deficit with 7:21 left. Then Kosar began picking Denver apart with an 11-play, 80-yard drive capped by his 24-yard, fourth-down touchdown pass to Brian Brennan.