Which Denver Players Deserve Game Balls?
Nov 9, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) throws a pass against the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos were in serious trouble.
You got the sense that the offense had no confidence or rhythm – highlighted by the penalties, turnovers and Manning’s happy feet.
No matter what was called, the Oakland Raiders had the answer.
Having just forced a three-and-out, it started to look as if Derek Carr and the Raiders would get at least a field goal and the ball back to start the second half with a touchdown lead.
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“Here we go again,” Broncos Country said to itself.
“Really? To the Raiders?”
Then came the play that changed the game. No, not the CJ Anderson one-handed 51-yard touchdown catch. Though that was awesome.
The game-changing moment was Bradley Roby’s interception that allowed Anderson’s play to happen.
If not for that play by the rookie cornerback, what happened at the end of the first half for the Broncos wouldn’t have happened. Instead of potentially trailing 13-6, they entered the half up 20-10 and in complete control having just scored two touchdowns.
“That’s what turnovers do,” Roby told the media after the 41-17 win. “It’s all about momentum.”
Give credit to Manning and the offense. Anytime a team scores 41 points and piles up 471 yards of total offense, that’s special; especially struggling as they were early in the game.
But don’t lose sight of the Denver defense and the game it had.
November 9, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Maurice Jones-Drew (21) is tackled by Denver Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (98) during the second quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Anytime you hold an NFL offense to under 200 yards and (basically) 10 points, that’s equally as special – even when that offense is the Raiders. When you consider the spot Manning and the Broncos offense put their defense in, to hold them to 10 points backed up like they were is huge.
Perhaps the most surprising stat of the game: Denver’s defense didn’t get a sack.
But it forced three turnovers, put constant pressure on Carr, didn’t allow Oakland to run the ball (30 yards) and there was no where to throw the football.
The nickname “No Fly Zone” was in full effect.
If the Broncos want to hoist their third Lombardi Trophy, they need games like this from the defense. When the offense struggles, the defense needs to step up and say, “We got you. Calm down. Relax. No need to fret.”
When the defense makes plays and shuts down the opposition like Denver’s defense did, it gives the whole team confidence. It gives the team a swagger.
This game in Oakland does that for Manning and his offense more than the 41 points and 471 yards.
It takes the pressure and shows them it’s not all on the offense.
Going forward, Manning and the offense can just play ball. They don’t have to be perfect. They don’t have to fear that a mistake will cost the team because the defense will pick them up.
That’s what championship teams do.
That’s what makes championship teams.
Rave about the offense.
Rave about Anderson.
Rave about Manning.
The only reason that’s possible is because of the defense.
Welcome to the No Fly Zone.
November 9, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) is congratulated by defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) during the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 41-17. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports