Five games in, five games won.
The Denver Broncos took down the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon, improving to 5-0 on the season and 3-0 against the NFC East. The Dallas Cowboys continue their streak of horrible luck, especially against the AFC West, losing their third close game of the season to that particular division.
I just want to start off by saying, what has the Dallas QB done with Tony Romo? Romo has been absolutely incredible to start the season, and despite the fact that Denver is missing/lost during the game a handful of its best defensive players, Romo was nearly unstoppable until Danny Trevathan made a huge play late in the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys’ offense is for real, and they are going to get even better as the season progresses. As bad as their division is this season, don’t be shocked if they are first place by season’s end.
There is a lot to get to in terms of box score and overall numbers happening in this game, but I will touch on that as we go. Here are my observations from the Broncos’ fifth victory of the season.
1. Only One to Go
The Broncos have only a date with Jacksonville between them and the return of star pass rusher Von Miler. Miller’s absence from the Broncos has seen a unit that was almost universally top five a year ago turn into a porous group that can’t get consistent pressure on the QB.
Denver has done a solid job of getting sacks this year when they need to, and none bigger than Shaun Phillips’ late fourth quarter sack of Tony Romo on Sunday, but adding Miller will just bring a whole other dimension to the Denver defense. His speed off the edge and ability to put teams in poor down and distance situations early in games and give the Broncos’ unstoppable offense an even bigger cushion.
The Broncos losing Miller is like if the Miami Heat were to lose Dwyane Wade for an extended period of time. Because they have LeBron, they can sustain the injury and still be dominant, but having Wade takes them to another level.
2. Peyton Manning, Once Again…
Manning threw his first pick of the season, and it almost cost the Broncos dearly. However, you can’t deny this guy’s greatness. Through five games, he has 20 touchdowns (which is an NFL record), and he also ran for a touchdown for the first time since 2008 against the Tennessee Titans.
Peyton is playing at an absolutely silly ridiculous level right now. There’s basically nothing that can stop him, save for maybe the lighting in the Cowboys’ billion dollar mansion. How do you pay that much money for a facility and have the worst sun glare anyone has ever seen? What a joke, Jerry Jones.
Manning also didn’t take a single sack on a defense that has generated some good pressure this season. He wasn’t even hit a whole heck of a lot, if much at all.
This guy is unreal.
3. Redemption for Trevathan
As good as the Broncos’ offense played against the Cowboys, it was Trevathan–the goat for his near pick-six against the Ravens–who made the most timely, clutch play of the game. Trevathan dove in front of a Tony Romo pass on the potential game-winning drive and put the Broncos immediately in field goal range with just under two minutes remaining.
That play followed a sack by Shaun Phillips, which was another huge play for Denver. Still, I think it’s safe to say that Trevathan is now out of the dog house. That was one of the biggest, most critical plays of the season so far for the Broncos.
4. Tough Against Adversity, Twice
The Broncos quickly trailed in this game 14-0 after an opening drive by Dallas that was pretty much perfect, and then an Eric Decker fumble that led to another touchdown by the Cowboys.
Manning and company stormed back from that deficit, and ended up with a 28-20 lead at the half. The Broncos once again appeared to have the game in hand when they built a 35-20 lead, until one of the most unlucky catches Tony Carter will ever allow happened. Rookie Terrance Williams somehow managed to catch a deep ball while his arm was being hit and the ball had been hit as well, and he scampered into the end zone for a touchdown.
The Cowboys eventually took all the momentum after Manning’s first INT of the season, and with just over seven minutes left in the game, the Broncos trailed 48-41. I hadn’t been this nervous since we played Baltimore in the playoffs, but Manning calmly orchestrated a game-tying TD drive, capped off by a Knowshon Moreno run.
Then the Trevathan play happened, and the Broncos got the game-winning field goal from Prater. It was as tough in adversity as they’ve had to be all season, on the road, and they did it both in the first and second half of this game.
5. Knowshon Like It’s 2009
I’m not going to dub Knowshon Moreno a star running back, but he’s a Swiss Army Knife for the Broncos, and can help the offense in so many ways. Not only is he a phenomenal receiver and pass blocker, but he’s hitting his stride as a runner. Dating back to the 2012 season, Moreno is easily the Broncos’ best back.
Moreno is running hard, he’s running tough, and most of all, he’s not making mistakes. He’s added the running dimension to the Broncos’ offense, and is playing great this season. He finished the game with 93 yards rushing, one touchdown, and five catches for 57 yards on five targets.
I’m impressed with Moreno so far this season.
This was a near-flawless performance by the Broncos that could have been put away much sooner. The Broncos gave up so many big plays to the Cowboys defensively that it was nearly sickening. This is a direct result of the lack of early-down pass rush. When the Broncos are able to pin their ears back, they can get sacks. However, on first and second down, the Broncos are currently built to stop the run.
Losing guys like Robert Ayers, Wesley Woodyard, Chris Harris, Von Miller, Champ Bailey, etc., etc., will cause you a bit of hurt on that side of the ball. However, no excuses for this Broncos team, which has stepped up and made plays when it had to.
Denver needs badly to get healthy on defense, and they have a team coming in this week in Jacksonville that is probably the worst in the NFL, but certainly not to be overlooked. They know they are major underdogs, and they are hungry to get their first win of the season.
The Broncos need to remain focused after such a mentally strenuous victory.