It was a record-setting day for Peyton Manning when the Denver Broncos beat the Houston Texans 37-13, but it was also a recognizable day for perhaps the Broncos’ second most valuable player, running back Knowshon Moreno.
With his 11 carries for 76 yards (6.9 avg), Moreno went over 1,000 rushing yards on the year. It was the first time in his career that he accomplished the feat, and he put up the 20th all-time 1,000-yard rushing performance in team history.
Not only that, but Moreno became the first Denver Bronco and just the 23rd NFL player to record 1,000 yards rushing (1,015) and 500 yards (507) in a single year.
To get to this point, Moreno had to endure benching’s (McDaniels’ era) and injuries. His previous best season came in his rookie year when he totaled 947 yards and seven touchdowns.
Moreno is a workhorse from the line of scrimmage and he has provided the passing game some good balance when that was a question mark in the off season after the team cut Willis McGahee. Who was going to step up?
The team took Ronnie Hillman in the 3rd round (67th overall) of the 2012 draft. He has a firm seat on the pine due to fumbling issues. They selected Montee Ball in the 3rd round (58th overall) of this year’s draft. He had to get used to NFL speed and big hits before his fumbling problem was under control.
Moreno has been the rock. He’s been the guy the Broncos can count on even when the team’s passing game has been in a rut for a quarter or two. Without Moreno in the backfield, who knows if Manning would have been able to throw 51 touchdown passes this season, with still a game to pad the record.
That 12th overall pick in 2009 has finally paid off. And should the Broncos win it all in New Jersey this year, Moreno will be able to celebrate in his home state. Even McDaniels couldn’t have written this script.