Handing Out Horseshoes - Broncos Week 15 Edition

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A Bronco loss means there won't be any Game Balls doled out this week, but in keeping with the rather new tradition of this series, I will be handing out Horseshoes to the achievers from the Offense, Defense and Special Teams Units. A -3 Turnover differential will get you beat Every Given Sunday and the Broncos needed a mistake-free effort to have a chance to beat the New England Patriots on Sunday. But they are young and in a rebuilding year. Rebounding from a 4-12 season a year ago into what is currently an 8-6 team tells me that the conditions are favorable for a return to post season runs instead of dwelling with the has-been teams in the land of "Have Nots."

This one is going to be short and sweet as I have one Horseshoe for each of the three Units.

OFFENSE

The Horseshoe on Offense goes to Wide Receiver Demaryius Thomas. Thomas caught 7 passes for 116 yards after being targeted a team-high 13 times on Sunday. More importantly, he didn't drop one ball. Five of Bay Bay's seven receptions made a 1st down. His long of the day was a 39-yard catch on the sideline with 9:39 left in the 4th Quarter. Two plays later, Broncos Quarterback Tim Tebow scored on a 2 yard run. That was the last time Denver got into the End Zone on Sunday.

Demaryius is starting to put together consistent games in his sophomore campaign. Perhaps not to the justification of his draft status, but if his injury concerns are behind him, the outlook for his future is very promising. On the season, Thomas has 25 Receptions for 441 yards, a 17.6 average and 4 Touchdowns.

DEFENSE




Chris Harris gets the defensive Horseshoe this week. He led the Broncos with 9 Tackles including a stuff on RB Stevan Ridley running around the right end for a 2-yard loss on 4th and 5 in the 4th Quarter. Harris had another stuff in the 1st Quarter on RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis for no gain. Chris wasn't assigned one specific player to defense on Sunday as Broncos Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen tried to create the best matchups. Harris guarded Patriots Tight Ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski at different times throughout the game. He also defended Wide Receivers Tiguan Underwood and the NFL's leading receiver Wes Welker. Chris allowed one catch for 1 yard to Hernandez and chased him down another time in the 1st Quarter, when Quinton Carter whiffed on a Tackle, then Champ Bailey and Wesley Woodyard missed Tackling Hernandez. Rahim Moore was blocked by Chad Ochocinco and all four players got tangled up. Carter got up and pursued downfield. Andre' Goodman moved to contain the play and Harris made the Tackle, but not after Hernandez had run for 46 yards.

Rob Gronkowski was held without a catch because of penalties when Harris drew his assignment. But Chris did make a play in the 4th Quarter on the Tight End. At the 8:10 mark, Gronkowski is wide open, takes the short pass over the middle from Tom Brady and takes off. Harris ran him down, but the play went for 38 yards. This was not Harris' responsibility, there was a break down in coverage and Gronkowski was unaccounted for.

Harris allowed Tiguan Underwood's only catch of the day, for 13 yards and Wes Welker caught 3 passes for 36 yards.

The 22 year old Undrafted Free Agent Cornerback out of Kansas has done a stellar job with his opportunity with the injuries to last years CFA surprise Cassius Vaughn and Syd'Quan Thompson in the Broncos secondary.
Harris' totals this season, are 61 Tackles, 5 Pass Break Ups and one Interception.


SPECIAL TEAMS




The Special Teams Horseshoe goes to Britton Colquitt this week. Britton had 3 punts average 55.0 yards on Sunday. His Net average was 47.3 yards because all three were returned an average of 7.7 yards. Colquitt put one Inside the 20 yard line and his longest went 60 yards. That was the 5th time this season Colquitt had at least a 50 yard gross average and the sixth game he has had a Net average of 45 yards or better.

Britton has made 85 punts this season for a gross average of 47.9 and a Net of 41.7 yards. His longest punt this year is a 66-yarder. Colquitt has placed 27 punts Inside the 20 yard line and has forced 24 Fair Catches. A mere 6 punts have gone for a touchback and the coverage Unit has downed 9 punts and helped his Net average by holding the opposing Punt Returners to a 9.31 average on 44 Returns.

There isn't much left that I haven't already said about Britton Colquitt. He is having a great year. Colquitt isn't likely to get a Pro Bowl nod this year due to his competition in the AFC West, but he has certainly played at a Pro Bowl worthy level this season and has been a consistent contributor for Denver.

That concludes this weeks Horseshoes. It's time to prepare for the Buffalo Bills.

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