Matt Prater kicks in the game's winning field goal against the Vikings. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Report Card: Denver Broncos vs. Minnesota Vikings


By Jim Lyles

BRONCOS RUSH OFFENSE: 

The Broncos had trouble getting their rushing game going on Sunday. The first play from scrimmage for the Broncos’ offense ended in a safety when Broncos running back Willis McGahee was tackled in the end zone.

The Broncos rushing attack didn’t click until the offense took the first possession of the second half and marched 78-yards to the end zone. However, the ground game wasn’t responsible for the scoring play, but it did set the tone for the team’s offensive revival.

McGahee rushed for a game high 111 yards on 20 attempts and seemed hell-bent on atoning for the safety, and a fumble. Tim Tebow, Lance Ball, and Spencer Larson combined to gain 39-yards on 12 carries – not prolific numbers but enough to keep the Vikings at bay.

The offensive line played a rather unproductive first half of football. The second half was an entirely different story as the Broncos run blocking blew open huge holes in the Vikings defensive front.

Grade: C+

BRONCOS PASS OFFENSE:

Where do you start to address Tebow’s passing numbers for a quarterback who intentionally can’t hit the broad side of a barn? How about going 10-for-15 for 186 yards passing and two touchdowns. Let’s start there. On a day that the defense wasn’t particularly good, Tim Tebow was downright outstanding, connecting on critical throws, finding Demaryius Thomas for 2 third quarter touchdown passes of 21 and 41 yards. Tebow looked more like the answer than the question in Sunday’s contest with a ridiculously good quarterback rating of 149.3.

Tebow did put the ball on the ground, and the Vikings recovered which led to a Vikings 27-yard field goal, but Tebow was accurate and he was timely.

Grade: A 

BRONCOS RUN DEFENSE:

The Broncos run defense yielded 129 yard on 30 attempts. Because the Vikings rushing game was effective against the Broncos front seven, it kept the Broncos pass defense susceptible all afternoon. The Viking did the dictating on the ground.

Grade:  C-

BRONCOS PASS DEFENSE:

The Broncos pass defense had Christian Ponder putting up Tom Brady-like numbers. The Vikings netted 360 yards through the air, connecting on three touchdown passes.

Fortunately the Broncos secondary forced key turnovers and scored the game’s first touchdown. Ponder’s errant throw was picked off by Mario Hagan who was playig for Von Miller. Hagan returned Ponder’s pass 16 yards for a score.

In the second quarter after Brian Dawkins sacked Ponder and forced a fumble on the Broncos 8-yard line, Jason Hunter recovered the loose ball and returned it to midfield, ending what appeared to be another certain Vikings scoring drive.

The final nail in the coffin was Andre’ Goodman’s interception with under two minutes left in game that led to the eventual 23-yard game winning field goal by Matt Prater.

The Broncos sacked Ponder three times during the game with Elvis Dumervil, Dawkins, and Ryan McBean contributing one sack each.

Grade: B-

BRONCOS SPECIAL TEAMS: 

Quan Cosby had a 63-yard kick-off return that the Broncos turned into an eventual touchdown.

Britton Colquitt was over the top averaging 51.2 yard on six punts. Prater made all his kicks including the game winning 23-yard field goal.

Grade: A

OVERALL TEAM RATING: 

This game could have easily gotten away. The offense struggled in the first half and was lights out in the second half. The defense didn’t have one of its better afternoons, but many questions got answers. The Broncos can and will be competitive via its passing game if the situation calls for it. This Broncos team can win when the defense isn’t at its best, and the coaching staff trusts Tebow’s arm enough to let him throw.

This was a trap game against a 2-9 team, and the Broncos effectively escaped the trap.

Grade: B-

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Tags: Christian Ponder Denver Broncos Mario Haggan Minnesota Vikings Tim Tebow Willis Mcgahee