The Denver Broncos have a winning record again, after they defeated their AFC West rivals Los Angeles Chargers on the road by a score of 24-7. To be specific, Denver has a 7-6 record. This was a huge win for Denver as they are not only one game behind the wild card spot, but one game behind the AFC West, as the Kansas City Chiefs lost their respective game.
With this win, and the other results within the AFC, there are six teams with a 7-6 record. Wild Cards: Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis. In the hunt: Houston, Denver, Cincinnati, and Buffalo.
With that being said, let's take a look at the key takeaways from Sunday's Week 14 win over the Bolts.
1. Defense keeps dominating:
Yes, Chargers' franchise quarterback Justin Herbert got injured in the second quarter of the game, but still, the defense allowed zero points to Herbert, sacked him four times, and intercepted him once. Justin was not able to move the sticks much, as he had 96 passing yards in the six offensive drives he played.
Once backup Easton Stick entered the game, Denver's defense had two sacks and two fumbles (recovered one).
Let's not forget that the Chargers touchdown came with a bit less than 11 minutes left in the game. Kudos to Vance Joseph for an almost perfect defensive game plan. He deserves a lot of credit, blitzing with linebackers and defensive backs was huge for Denver.
The Broncos defense allowed only seven points, the least amount of points in a game (so far) this season. They allowed only one third down conversion in 18 attempts, and only one fourth down conversion in six attempts.
Once again, yes Justin Herbert got injured, but still, the defense balled, held LA to less than 300 combined offensive yards, and their offensive stars in Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen did not have a big impact on the game.
2. Courtland Sutton once again with a WILD catch:
Sutton was pretty much well covered by star corner Asante Samuel Jr. during most of the game, as he only had three receptions in four targets, but one of the three catches he had was a huge one. Courtland once again, with the respective weekly highlight reel catch, no matter the game result.
Russell Wilson with the perfect pass, and Sutton with a great catch. It was a 46-yard touchdown, to extend Denver's lead from 10-0 to 17-0 in the third quarter. Sutton not only had his tenth receiving touchdown of the season, but he became the first Bronco since Julius Thomas and Demaryius Thomas in 2014 to have double-digit touchdowns in the same season.
3. Sean Payton built a perfect offensive drive in the 4th quarter:
The Broncos are up by 17, Chargers score with a little bit over 10 minutes left in the game clock. 10:40 minutes is enough for a team with their healthy starting quarterback down by 10 points to come back and win the game. Obviously, Easton Stick couldn't do it, but still, Sean Payton created a masterclass of an offensive drive, very well executed by Russell Wilson, and the offense not only extended the lead to 17 points but ate up the game clock.
The drive started with a Javonte Williams 20-yard run (his second-longest carry of the season, he had a 21-yard run against Green Bay in week 7). Followed by Javonte's big run, Russ connected with tight end Adam Trautman for a nine-yard play on third down and 8. On another third down, this one a 3rd & 6, Russell Wilson scrambled for the first down. Once again, Denver had a third down at LA's 28-yard line, the third 3rd down conversion of the drive. Russ had a short pass to Samaje Perine, who gained nine yards on the play and got the first down.
The drive ended up with a 10-yard touchdown by tight end Adam Trautman on a 3rd-and-1. The touchdown that technically clinched the game.
In the end, it was a 13-play, 75-yard drive, that consumed 7.26 minutes of the game clock, and clinched the seventh win of the season for the Broncos.
4. Jerry Jeudy ...
Not too many comments about this one...but, is Jerry Jeudy's time in Denver coming to an end? Many thought that the Broncos were trading him at October's deadline, but they decided to keep him on the team.
Yes, he showed frustration last week after not being too involved in the passing game, but on Sunday against the Chargers it was completely different. Jerry was targeted six times and had only two catches for 16 yards. He dropped two deep balls from Russell Wilson, very catchable passes, and could have placed the Broncos in great positions to score points instead of punting the ball away.
In the second quarter, near the end of it, Jeudy caught a pass in the end zone but he never dragged the second foot. I do not know why his foot was not dragged, but it cost Denver four points. The drive that could have finished in a touchdown, and a 14-0 lead, finished with a short field goal by Wil Lutz, and a 10-0 score.