Oct 5, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos strong safety T.J. Ward (43) reacts to his tackle in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
The Denver Broncos made a statement.
Peyton Manning and his teammates proved they will punch back when you try to punch them.
The knock against the Broncos prior to the season was that they were soft. That if you punch them in the mouth and play physical against them, they will cower.
Heck, even leading into the game with the Arizona Cardinals, that talk still was thrown around.
Here’s betting even after this 41-20 flogging of the Cardinals, some will still hold onto this failed logic that Denver is weak.
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It should have ended two weeks ago when the Broncos almost escaped Seattle with a win.
Well, it ends now.
The Broncos beat up and manhandled one of the toughest and scrappiest teams in the NFL at Mile High.
Don’t believe me?
Ask Phillip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers. Or the San Francisco 49ers. Both of those teams failed to do what Denver did.
The Broncos not only beat the Cardinals (3-1), they beat them into submission.
There’s no doubt there are still aspects that need to improve for Denver (3-1). A more effective running game will help, and that was shown when the Broncos finally were able to move the ball on the ground thanks to, of all people, Ronnie Hillman and Juwan Thompson.
Oct 5, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos running back Juwan Thompson (40) scores a touchdown during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 41-20. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Congrats to Thompson for getting his first career touchdown. In the process, he showed his teammates and coaches what he can do when given a chance.
But a serious Mile High Salute goes to Hillman for the way he played.
For all he’s gone through this season and his career, it would have been easy for him to tap out and say “I quit.”
But as this team showed on Sunday, keep fighting and good things will happen.
With this modicum of success on the ground, here’s hoping Denver can take another step next week against the New York Jets.
The defense must limit the big plays.
Short of that 81-yard touchdown completion to running back Andre Ellington, the Cardinals didn’t do anything. Even with that play, they didn’t do anything.
Arizona finished with 215 net yards. Take away that 81-yard play and it finishes with 134 and 13 points.
Those are the numbers the Broncos expect to see from this defense. And it’s not far from happening. When it does, the Broncos are near impossible to beat when the offense purrs like this.
The goal now is to make it happen.
For the first time this season, Denver put forth a complete game.
For the first time this season, the Broncos put an opponent away when they had the chance to do it. The Cardinals did all they could for three quarters but Denver was just too much.
Broncos coach John Fox breaks the season down to quarters. They finished the first, and one heckuva first it was in terms of competition, 3-1. Most had Denver 2-2 or even 1-3 at this point given that competition.
Just as the Broncos did with this win over Arizona, they’ve sent a statement to the rest of the NFL.
Oct 5, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker (83) is pushed out of bounds by Arizona Cardinals cornerback Antonio Cromartie (31) during the second half at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 41-20. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports