The Broncos have taken the AFC West division lead. The Raiders lost to a hot Miami Dolphins squad and the Broncos continued their winning streak in Minnesota against the Vikings. At 1-4, if someone told me that the Broncos would be leading the division after week 13, I'd have looked at them like they had 3 eyes. If the season ended today, the Broncos would host a playoff game. How sweet is that?
Let's recap things, shall we? This game wasn't looking pretty, as the game started.
The Broncos first offensive possession resulted in a safety. Tim Tebow handed off 5 yards deep in the endzone to Willis McGahee, who never had a chance with Jared Allen coming unblocked off the left side of the offense. The Vikings took the ball right back down the field before Brian Dawkins forced a fumble that was recovered by Jason Hunter. This resulted in no points because the Broncos offense came out of the gates stumbling. The Broncos had 43 offensive yards and 1 first down in the 1st half and appeared to be against the ropes. The Denver defense kept them in the game with a Mario Haggan interception returned for touchdown in the first half, however, the Broncos were down 15-7 at halftime.
Being down at halftime is a situation that the Broncos are very familiar with, as of late, but it hasn't stopped them from playing well in the second half.
As the second half began, it became apparent that the Broncos were not going to go out with a fight. They drove down the field with a 21 yard pass from Tim Tebow to Demaryius Thomas. The Vikings answered with a balanced attack that kept the Broncos defense on their heels. It ended with a touchdown pass from Christian Ponder to Percy Harvin. Chris Harris was in coverage on the play and was shoved to the turf as Percy Harvin was making his break.
After a huge return by Quan Cosby, the Broncos took over in Viking territory. The first play, Tebow rolled to his left, evaded a bunch of defenders and bought just enough time to find Demaryius Thomas, who ran downfield and broke a few tackles to put up his second touchdown of the day.
After trading punts, the Vikings took over and the Percy Harvin show continued. He caught a short crossing route as Champ played off-man coverage. Champ Bailey was picked off on a wide receiver block downfield and Kyle McCarthy couldn't drag Percy Harvin down in open field. The Vikings went up by 8, again, 29-21.
The Broncos answered right back with a deep ball to Demaryius Thomas up the left seam, followed by a Willis McGahee 24 yard rumble for a touchdown. The Broncos went for two and Tim Tebow ran off right tackle for the 29-29 tie.
The Vikings then converted two critical third downs and were awarded a first down thanks to a hands to the face call against Broderick Bunkley. After an incompletion to the back shoulder of Devin Aromashodu and a sack, Christian Ponder threw a third down pass to nowhere and the Vikings settled for a field goal with 3:06 to play.
Tebow Time. He throws across the middle to Matthew Willis for a first down and then throws a bomb down the right sideline to his favorite target, Demaryius Thomas, for 40 yards. Willis McGahee runs right for 4 to the Minnesota 24 yard line and the clock goes down to the 2 minute warning. With another McGahee run (this time for a loss of 4), the Broncos faced a 3rd and 10 from the Vikings' 28 yard line. He threw deep to the left to give Demaryius Thomas a chance and he just couldn't come up with it. Matt Prater kicked a 46 yard field goal to tie the game at 32 with 1:33 on the clock.
Starting at the 20 yard line, Christian Ponder threw an ill advised pass to the left that was picked off by Andre Goodman and returned to the Vikings' 15 yard line. The Broncos ran the clock down and kicked the game winning field goal with no time on the clock, giving the Broncos a 35-32 victory.
The winning streak continues. The division lead is ours. Life is good. Next week, the Broncos return to Denver to take on the Bears without Matt Forte and Jay Cutler.