The Denver Broncos completed their 2011 regular season campaign at 8-8, but still managed to do something that hasn't happened in six years--get to the postseason. By virtue of Sunday's defeat at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs, there won't be any Game Balls to distribute. However, upon reflection there were a few players that stood out. See if you agree with my choices.
Entering Sunday’s contest against Kansas City, the Broncos needed 214 rushing yards to set a new single-season franchise record. They hit that mark with two yards to spare, and ended up at 2,631 yards for the season. This is also the highest average per carry of the top-five single-season yardage totals with 4.9 yards per carry.
Willis McGahee gets the Horseshoe on Offense this week and should get the Team MVP for the year. In the 3rd quarter on Sunday, Willis topped the 100-yard mark for the seventh time this season on a 2 yard run up the middle. That ties for the lead in the NFL this season and is the most by a Bronco since Clinton Portis had eight 100-yard games in the 2002 season. It was his 30th career 100-yard game, which ranks 5th among active NFL players. For the game, McGahee had 145 yards on 28 carries and a 5.2 average. Last week, Willis went over the 1,000-yard seasonal mark for the 4th time in his career. McGahee finished the regular season with 1,199 yards rushing on 249 carries for a 4.8 average, 4 Touchdowns and 12 catches for 51 yards and 1 Touchdown receiving. That 1,199 yards accounted for 45.6% of the Broncos rushing Offense in 2011.
Elvis Dumervil is the Defensive Horseshoe recipient this week, leading the team with 8 Tackles, including one Tackle For a Loss. Doom is the 10th Bronco to lead or share the lead in single-game Tackles for the team this season. It is refreshing to see one of the Front 7 on Defense leading the team in Tackles for a game instead of a Safety or Cornerback. It shows that the team's run Defense is doing well. Elvis didn't get any Sacks against the Chiefs, but helped the Denver Defense limit Kansas City to a single Touchdown. Dumervil had 42 Tackles, 9.5 Sacks, 18 Quarterback Hits, 10 Tackles For a Loss, one Pass Break Up and one Fumble Recovery this season. While Elvis didn't put up double digit Sacks this season, he should be considered the Broncos Comeback Player of the Year.
Honorable Mentions this week are Linebacker Joe Mays with 7 Tackles, including one for a Loss and Defensive End Robert Ayers, who added 3 Tackles and got the lone Sack for the Broncos, one Tackle For a Loss and one Quarterback Hit. David Bruton had a pretty good game with 4 Tackles and one Pass Break Up as well.
Matthew Willis gets the Special Teams Horseshoe for his play this week. In the 3rd Quarter, Willis had a 25-yard Kick Return, then a few plays later, he recovered a muffed Punt return by Javier Arenas at the Kansas City 20 yard line. That led to the Broncos only score of the afternoon. Then in the 4th Quarter, Matt came up with another big Special Teams play, batting Britton Colquitt's punt out of the air, where Wesley Woodyard downed it at the Chiefs 3 yard line. Willis ended the regular season with 5 Special Teams stops, 1 Downed Punt, 1 Fumble Recovery and 8 Kick Returns for a 20.4 average. He also had 18 catches on Offense, for 267 yards, a 14.8 average and one Touchdown.
Honorable Mention on Special Teams goes to Britton Colquitt, who has had an outstanding year punting for the Broncos. Colquitt punted 9 times on Sunday for a gross average of 44.7 and a 38.0 Net average. 3 Punts were downed, one went for a touchback and 5 landed Inside the 20 yard line. For the 2011 season, Britton made 101 Punts for a gross average of 47.4 and a 40.2 Net average. His longest went 66 yards, 33 landed Inside the 20 yard line, 27 were Fair Caught, 13 were Downed, 7 went for touchbacks and 51 were returned for an 11.4 average including a touchdown. Colquitt has been a big part of an improved Denver Special Teams Unit in 2011.
That's it for this week and we can turn our focus towards the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are an 8 point favorite against the Broncos for the Wildcard Weekend Playoffs this Sunday. Hopefully, next week about this time, I will be handing out Game Balls too.