Charles Dickens couldn’t have written a better ending. It was a Tale of Two Halves for the Denver Broncos as they beat the Minnesota Vikings 35-32 on a field goal by Matt Prater with 2 seconds remaining.
This was a total team effort. The defense bailed the offense out in the first half, and the offense bailed the defense out in the second half. Special teams came through with big punts, huge returns, stout coverage, and who can forget clutch field goals?
Willis McGahee had his sixth 100+ yard game of the season and he brought the Broncos to within two points with less than 9 minutes to go in the game. Go for it, go for it, go for it in the Gopher State. The Broncos went for it and Tim Tebow ran the two point conversion in himself to tie the ball game up at 29 apiece. A pair of field goals by each team put the game at 32 each with 1:33 left in the game.
The Cardic Kids come through again.
It looked like Vikings’ QB Christian Ponder would get his chance. He set a rookie team record with 381 passing yards, but he also made the most critical error of the game. His interception right into the hands of Andre Goodman gave the ball back to the Broncos in prime field position with just over a minute remaining. All the Broncos had to do was not turn it over. With that, Prater kicked in the 23-yard field goal as the clock hit 0:00. It’s in the books. The Broncos win their fifth straight, their sixth in seven weeks, and they are now tied for first in the AFC West with a 7-5 record.
The first half saw a total of 48 yards for the Broncos offense. The team’s defense gave up just 13 first half points and they put up 6 points of their own. How about Mario Haggan filling in for Von Miller? Haggan finished the game with a team-high 12 tackles, and a pick-6. How about Brian Dawkins with 4 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble? How about Elvis Dumervil recording a sack, his fifth straight game with a QB takedown?
Enough with those mentions. You can’t go any further without talking about the second half performance of Tim Tebow and the Denver offense. It looked like they were left at the Mall of America in the first half. Luckily the team bus picked them up at halftime. The opening drive of the second half started with three straight first downs (compared to just one first down in the first half) and more yards than the team put up in the entire first half. Tebow threw his first touchdown of the game, a 21-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas.
A big shout out here to Josh McDaniels, now a coach with a 2-9 record. Thanks for drafting Thomas and then Tebow in the first round of the 2010 draft. We Mc-Thank you. Thomas had 4 catches for a career-high 144 yards and 2 TDs. Tebow looked like Ben Roethlisberger, going 10-for-15 for 202 yards and 2 TDs. His legs got a break with just four carries, mostly because Willis McGahee went off for 111 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown. That’s 5.6 yards per carry.
If you look at the stat sheet, you will see that the Broncos had the ball for just over 22 minutes, they gave up 489 yards of offense, and they had 8 penalties for 73 yards loss. The game shouldn’t have been theirs.
In five of the team’s seven wins, the Broncos have come back from a halftime deficit to win it. Adversity and a game clock that is nearing 0:00 is their best friend.
Great works are not performed by skill or by strength, but by perseverance. The same goes for finishing NFL seasons.
The Broncos are on a roll. They’re the league’s most thrilling team and they’re playing their best ball late in the season. The Broncos were a question early in the season. Now they’re the answer.