The Denver Broncos pulled another victory out of their helmet on Sunday with their 3rd Overtime win this season. This time it was the Chicago Bears who got "Tebowed," Another day, another comeback. It really has started to become routine that the Broncos will come out flat on Offense and finish well. Denver rallied this time after being down by 10 points in the last few minutes of a game. With Sunday's win, the Broncos became 3rd team in NFL history to win 6 consecutive games after starting season 2-5 or worse. The 1970 Cincinnati Bengals and the 2005 Minnesota Vikings are the other two to accomplish this. Their record stands at 8-5 and they have secured 1st place in the AFC West division by virtue of a Green Bay Packers 46-16 trouncing of the Oakland Raiders.
Has the Mile High Magic returned? You tell me.
They were 10 points down after the first 58 minutes and two turnovers, one a critical 4th Quarter Fumble. Two starters and a reserve in the Defensive Secondary went down with injuries. They missed out in recovering an onside kick. They didn't win the coin toss in overtime. This team has a "refuse to lose" mentality that Bronco fans haven't seen in quite awhile. If you don't believe me, just think of Denver's record in between two 6-0 runs. What I am leading up to, is a new category in this series. Remember, this is a living organism that has adapted to the ever changing scenario that unfolds each week and so here is the latest addition to the Game Balls and Horseshoes.
MILE HIGH MAGIC PLAY OF THE GAME
Wesley Woodyard gets a Game Ball for creating the Game-changing Fumble that allowed the Broncos to beat the Bears. Woody only had 2 Tackles in the contest, but the Broncos leader in Tackles, despite the fact that he hasn't been on the field full-time, had a tremendous impact in the outcome of Sunday's game.
In the 1st Quarter on Chicago's 2nd play of the game, Wesley made the stop on Bears Running Back Marion Barber after a 4-yard gain. Chicago was called for a False Start penalty and couldn't convert on 3rd down. Woodyard was quiet until 12:53 in the Overtime period when he met up with that same Running Back once more, this time with a different result. The ball was at the 38 yard line. The Bears were looking to get a little closer for a Robbie Gould Field Goal Attempt to win the game and they were right at the edge of his range. Barber took a handoff from Caleb Hanie and headed off the left tackle when Wesley reached out as Barber was running by and stripped the ball at the 34 yard line. Elvis Dumervil recovered and the Broncos drove down and won the game. Barber had already broken through the line for the first down and could have actually scored on the play, But Woody's Mile High Magic Play of the Game made the difference.
Matt Prater is getting the Game Ball on Offense this week. Why you ask? He scored over half the points against the Bears, including the game tying and game winning Field Goals. His 59-yarder with 8 seconds left in regulation tied the game and sent it into Overtime after Tim Tebow lead yet another rally. Prater kicked the game winner, a 51-yard Field Goal that was dead straight through the uprights, to stun the Bears 6 1/2 minutes into OT. That was Matt's 3rd Overtime Field Goal and 4th game winner this season, making him the first player in team history to kick three Overtime Field Goals in one season. Prater has converted 28-of-29 career Field Goals in the 4th quarter or Overtime.
Tim Tebow had a hand in this victory as well, steering the Broncos to yet another come from behind victory. He also led the Broncos to wins in OT at Miami and San Diego. Tim had 49 yards on 12 carries and completed 21 of 40 passes for a season-best 236 yards. Tebow hooked up with Wide Receiver Demaryius Thomas on a 10-yard TD pass play with 2:15 left in the game to bring the Broncos within 3 points. The Broncos got the ball back with 53 seconds left after Marion Barber's errant running out of bounds when Chicago was attempting to run out the clock. I has been mentioned that Barber deserves a Game Ball for his outstanding performance in a Bronco victory, but that would be impudent and make Denver fans appear to be a six when as everyone knows we're a nine. The funny thing is, the Broncos league-leading rushing game had problems against a very good Chicago Defensive front. As a team, they rushed for 124 yards on 34 carries, a 3.6 per carry average. In fact Tebow's 16 yard scramble was the longest run of the afternoon. They never abandoned the run altogether, but the air attack had to be implemented. Just like the teams modus operandi, it started slow but finished with a bang.
Demaryius Thomas gets the other Horseshoe on Offense. Bay Bay caught 7 passes for 78 yards and the Broncos only touchdown of the game. He had some trouble finding the handle on the ball at times, but he and Tim Tebow got it together near the end of the game with that 10 yard TD catch. The 2nd year Wide Receiver has 18 catches for 325 yards, an 18.2 average and 4 Touchdowns in 3 starts this season.
D.J. Williams is rewarded with the Game Ball on Defense for a terrific effort on Sunday. He was the Broncos leader with 9 Tackles. DJ also picked up 2 Sacks, 2 Quarterback Hits and 4 Tackles behind the Line of Scrimmage for 22 yards. He was responsible for two 3rd down stops, forcing the Bears to punt and assisted Marion Barber out of bounds on that critical play just after the 2-minute warning in the 4th Quarter. DJ has 75 Tackles, 5 Sacks, 5 QB Hits, 3 Forced Fumbles and one Pass Break Up and is well on his way to a 3rd consecutive 100+ Tackle season and 4th in the last 5 years.
Elvis Dumervil takes the first Horseshoe on Defense. The veteran half of the Broncos Quarterback Sack Attack made 5 Tackles and 2 Tackles for a Loss totaling 11 yards. He also added 1 Sack, 3 Quarterback Hits and a crucial Fumble Recovery that set up the final scoring scenario for Denver, helping return the Mile High Magic to it's rightful place, Denver Colorado. Doom and Brian Dawkins dropped Khalil Bell for a 1-yard loss on the Bears very first play. Later on, he stopped Marion Barber 9 yards short on 3rd and 18 forcing a Chicago punt. In the 2nd Quarter, Elvis was in on back to back plays. He teamed up with DJ Williams to stop Khalil Bell for a 5 yard loss and on the following play, grabbed Bears QB Caleb Hanie as he attempted to scramble. Hanie salvaged 2 yards on the play. In the 3rd Quarter Dumervil got his lone Sack of the afternoon for a 5 yard loss on 1st and 24. On the play following Marion Barber's mental lapse in running out of bounds, Elvis Tackled Barber after a 1 yard gain on 3rd and 5. That forced Chicago to punt and the Broncos were able to tie the game and head for OT before time expired. Then in Overtime, the Bears were moving the ball for what looked like the game winning drive. On 3rd and 7 at the Denver 38 yard line, Marion Barber ran off left Tackle and was stripped by Wesley Woodyard. Elvis pounced on the ball and 9 plays later, the Broncos walked away with the win. Doom has 29 Tackles, 7.5 Sacks, 1 Pass Break Up and 14 Quarterback Hits this season.
Marcus Thomas gets the second Horseshoe this week. Marcus had 6 Tackles and 2 Tackles for a Loss (2 yards) on Sunday. He was personally responsible for holding Marion Barber and Khalil Bell to 10 yards rushing on 6 carries, a 1.6 yard average. Marcus combined with Broderick Bunkley, stopping Barber after 3 yards in Overtime.Wesley Woodyard made his game changing Forced Fumble on the following play.
Von Miller takes the Horseshoe in the honorable mention category. Miller had 5 Tackles, 1 Sack, 2 Tackles For Loss and 2 Quarterback Hits against the Bears. That Sack gives him 11.5 for the year, which ties him with Rulon Jones for the team record for a rookie. Von needs 3 Sacks to break the NFL record of 14 set by Javon Kearse in 1999. Along with his multitude of Sacks, Miller has 62 Tackles, a team leading 23 Quarterback Hits, 4 Pass break Ups and 2 Forced Fumbles. He is also tied with Minnesota’s Jared Allen for the most games (10) with at least a half sack in 2011. Not a bad rookie campaign if you ask me.
Britton Colquitt gets the Game Ball for his outstanding performance in maintaining good field position for the Broncos. It's something he has consistently done all season long. Britton punted 8 times against the Bears and one of the most dangerous return men in the league, Devin Hester, who averages 18.5 yards running back punts. Colquitt didn't shy away from him either with one exception where a directional punt went out of bounds. Even then, it landed at the 11 yard line. No, Britton took the reins and let 'er buck. He finished with a 45.4 gross average, a Net of 40.9, put 3 Inside the 20 and forced Hester to call for 4 Fair Catches. Hester had two opportunities and ended up with 36 yards, one a 26-yard return to the Denver 42 that set up the Bears touchdown. I saw 2 pairs of Bronco players get tangled with one another on that return, leaving 7 guys to take down Hester. It was a directional kick and the coverage unit was pinching in. They had it covered, but losing four players against a home run return threat like Hester and I believe the Broncos were fortunate to keep him from scoring.
Quan Cosby will get the final Horseshoe of the week. The Broncos return man had a pretty good day against a number one ranked Bears Unit that was only allowing 3.3 yards per return. Quan returned 8 punts at a 9.1 yard clip. Partner that with Britton Colquitt's brilliant punting performance and it is easy to see why the field position battle is so important to Broncos head coach John Fox. This season, Cosby has 13 kick returns with a 29.7 average. His longest went for 63 yards and all 13 have been at least 20 yards with 2 going for more than 40 yards. Quan has also returned 26 Punts for an average of 10.3 yards, a long of 30 and 3 for at least 20 yards, which puts him around 10th in the NFL among players with at least 25 punt returns.
That wraps it up for this week as we move toward the matchup with the New England Patriots on Sunday. And as our young quarterback stated after the game this week, "It's not Tebow Time, It's Broncos Time."