The Broncos 27-17 victory over division rival Kansas City Chiefs showed a determined team pushing it’s way through adversity. The Denver Defense, foreshadowed by their teammates on the other side of the ball, showed up with a chip on their shoulder this week. The NFL’s No.1 ranked Offense has been getting all the notoriety this season, while the Defense has been shorthanded and overlooked. Much of that changed in Sunday’s win.
A known weak spot at the end of last season, the Broncos Defensive line was shored up through the draft and Free Agency. This Unit had one of the better performances in 2013. The Front Four was responsible for 21 of the 53 stops on Defense. 40% of the Chiefs Offense was stopped by the first line of Defense. They accounted for all 3 Sacks on Alex Smith, 3 out of the 4 Tackles For Loss and 5 Batted Passes and 10 of the 16 Quarterback Hurries. The Chiefs Quarterback dropped back to pass 45 times and 24 of those times he was Sacked, Hit or Hurried (53%). Another 11 passes were broken up or batted down at the Line of Scrimmage.
Three of the top four Bronco defenders on Sunday were Linemen. Shaun Phillips, Malik Jackson and Derek Wolfe had very good games. The other was Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who played 42 Coverage snaps, allowed 2 catches out of 7 Targets and broke up two passes. Derek Wolfe had 2 Tackles, 1 TFL, 1 QB Hit, 4 Hurries and a Sack. Malik Jackson had 3 Tackles, .5 Sack, 2 QB Hit, 1 Hurry and 2 Batted passes.
Honorable Mention goes to Linebacker Danny Trevathan, who tied for the lead with 10 Tackles and also Forced a Fumble, but the Game Ball on Defense goes to Shaun Phillips. Shaun had 10 Tackles, 2 TFLs, 1.5 Sacks, 2 QB Hits, 3 Hurries and 2 Batted Passes as he disrupted the Kansas City Offense for most of the game.
On Offense, the game plan was simple; protect the $20 Million man and his sore ankles. The chiefs pass rushing duo of Justin Houston and Tamba Hali were effectively negated by just enough of Knowshon Moreno’s running, the Bronco receivers running crisp routes and quick decisions by Peyton Manning while being limited to the short passing game. However, the guys who showed up and did a spartan job were the big men up front.
The Offensive Line had a pretty awesome day overall. They didn’t allow a Sack or a hit on their Quarterback and only allowed 6 hurries on 44 dropbacks. Zane Beadles graded out as the best Linemen, but all five were stalwart in the passing game.
Knowshon Moreno had 79 yards rushing on the day and rookie Montee Ball scored twice on runs inside the Red Zone. The only gaffe on the day was a Fumbled handoff exchange between Peyton Manning and Ball in the 1st Quarter, but Danny Trevathan’s Forced Fumble picked up by Quentin Jammer on the ensuing play nullified the Turnover.
Demaryius Thomas had 121 yards receiving, Wes Welker caught 8 balls before leaving with a Concussion and Eric Decker grabbed 5 of of his 6 Targets for 71 yards. Tight End Julius Thomas caught his 10th Touchdown pass on the season, tying him with Hall Of Famer Shannon Sharpe for the Broncos single season record for TD’s by a Tight End. Peyton Manning had a so-so day by his standards, going 24/40 for 323 yards, 1 Fumble and 1 Touchdown for a 94.1 Rating. Still, what do you want from a 37-year old Quarterback hobbled by sore ankles?
The Game Ball on Offense goes to the Offensive Line.
There weren’t many highlights on Special Teams for this game, although the Punting Colquitt’s got plenty of work. Between the two brothers, there were 13 punts in this contest. Britton did better than older sibling Dustin though. He punted 6 times with a 45.8 yard gross average and a 40.3 yard Net. He had 1 Touchback, 1 Inside the 20, 1 Fair Catch and his longest went 54 yards.
Matt Prater missed his first Field Goal this season, a 52-yard attempt that went Wide Left. He finished 2 of 3 on the day, made all 3 Extra Points and Kicked off 6 times with 5 Touchbacks.
In Coverage, David Bruton had two stops, while Montee Ball, Omar Bolden, Andre Caldwell and Virgil Green each had 1 Special Teams Tackle.
In the Return game, Trindon Holliday had one 28-yard Kick return and 3 Punt returns for a 5.7 average. It seems like opposing teams don’t want to be beaten by the Broncos fleet-footed return man.
The Game Ball on Special Teams goes to Britton Colquitt.
Time now to turn our focus on this week’s trip to New England and the Week 12 matchup with the Patriots.
– Kaptain Kirk