The Denver Broncos journey during 2012 is reminiscent of a Grateful Dead song. "What a long strange trip it’s been." Their victory in San Diego last Monday night notwithstanding, Denver went hunting Chargers with a Double-barreled shotgun and only one bullet. They came up empty in the first half, but boy did they get their money’s worth out if that other shot.
The Broncos mounted a 2nd half comeback after being shut out for the first 35 minutes of play, to put the Bolts to bed and defeat San Diego by an 11-point margin. Usually when something dynamic like that occurs, big plays were made. That may be an understatement, but while the Chargers were fizzling out, several Bronco players stepped up and took advantage. A total of 9 Turnovers happened in this game. The first three came from the Denver side, spotting San Diego 17 of their 24 point total.
By halftime, things looked hopeless. Bronco fans around the world would spend another half hour wondering how they would possibly get through the next two weeks, since the Broncos Bye week was upon them. But then the second of six Charger Turnovers took place and the mood swing of the fanbase was a reflection of the split personality of the game. The Bronco Defense shut down and shut out the San Diego Defense and actually provided some Offense of their own to take the juice out of the Chargers.
This is where it gets tough because as I alluded to earlier, there were several big plays made by a handful of players. I have reduced the list for the Game Ball down to a couple of players and you will get to vote for the one you feel most deserving, but I will array them how I see it, for form’s sake.
This one is a toss up (and thus the reason for the Poll), but I have to go with Defensive Back Chris Harris for the overall Game Ball period. The former undrafted college Free Agent normally covers the opposing slot or third Wide Receiver and is the Nickel back. However, on Monday night he filled in very well for Tracy Porter at the starting Right Cornerback position across from Champ Bailey, a position that draws quite a lot of attention. Chris had perhaps his best professional game with 4 Tackles, 2 Pass Breakups and 2 Interceptions, including one for a 46-yard Touchdown to ice the Broncos victory. Harris graded out as the best defender against the pass and the 3rd best defender of the game for the Broncos.
Elvis Dumervil had an outstanding game as well. The Broncos premier pass rusher had a huge impact on the outcome of Monday night’s contest. He ended up with 5 Tackles, 4 Hurries, 2 Sacks, 2 Forced Fumbles, 1 Tackle For Loss, 1 Quarterback Hit and 1 Pass Breakup. Talk about disruptive. Elvis graded out as the best overall defender for the Broncos for the game and both of his Sacks were crucial to the outcome of the game.
Reserve Defensive Back Tony Carter was the third Bronco that made vital plays to factor in deciding Denver’s triumph. Carter was pressed into service because of Tracy Porter’s illness, subbing for Chris Harris as Harris moved over to fill the vacancy left by Porter. Tony contributed 4 Tackles, 2 on the Special Teams Unit, 2 Pass Breakups, 1 Interception and one Fumble Recovery that he returned 65 yards for the Broncos second Touchdown. That Fumble recovery pulled Denver to within 10-points of the Chargers and gave the team new life. Carter’s 4th Quarter Interception of a Philip Rivers pass that was intended for Robert Meacham allowed Peyton Manning to orchestrate a 4-play, 50 yard drive that was capped by a 21-yard Touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley for the go ahead score. Tony finished as the 2nd best pass defender and the 4th best overall for the Broncos while playing 41 of a possible 79 snaps.
Depending on the outcome of the Poll, consider the Gold and Silver Horseshoes given. Because there were other standout plays made, the Horseshoe section will be sort of an Honorable Mention.
The Denver Defensive Line dropped anchor in the 2nd half as Derek Wolfe got his third Sack of the season, contributing 3 Tackles, 1 for a loss and 1 Quarterback hit. Justin Bannan made 7 Tackles and was the Broncos best defender against the Run and 5th overall while only playing 38 snaps. Kevin Vickerson had 4 Tackles and a Hurry and Robert Ayers, while only getting 1 Tackle and 38 snaps, batted Dumervil’s Forced Fumble towards Tony Carter so he could scoop it up.
Safeties Mike Adams and Jim Leonhard added to the destruction of the Bolt’s. Adams contributed 7 Tackles and recovered the Fumble that Dumervil Forced near the end of the game. Leonhard had 3 Tackles for the game and got the first Charger Turnover by Intercepting a pass intended for Antonio Gates to stop the first half bleeding.
Linebackers Wesley Woodyard and Von Miller did their share too. Woodyard led the Broncos in Tackles with 9 on Defense and 2 Special Teams stops. Wes played all 79 snaps, recording a Hit and a Hurry on Philip Rivers. He graded out as the 2nd best defender overall (2nd vs. the Run, 3rd vs. the Pass) for the Broncos on Monday night. Von Miller got to show off his new Sack Dance as he registered his 6th of the year. Von had 3 Tackles, 1 Tackle for Loss, 1 Quarterback Hit, 3 Hurries and graded out as the 3rd best rub defender for Denver.
The Broncos have been outstanding in the 4th quarter all season, outscoring their opponents 79-6. The Denver Defense has been almost impenetrable in the final stanza, averaging One point allowed for the year.
That is some stingy Defense.
Follow Me on Twitter!
Get your MHR T-shirt here
Like Me on FaceBook!