Broncos Country received an early Christmas gift this afternoon as Denver walked off with a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-23. The Broncos won their 7th in a row, moved their record to 9-3, clinched their second consecutive AFC West Division title and guaranteed postseason participation.
Denver, who's last defeat was in Week 5 (October 7th vs. New England), got 3 Touchdown passes from Peyton Manning, a pick six by Von Miller and another good effort by the Defense to run their Home record to 5-1 and their division record 4-0. Once again the Broncos will have a winning season and the 13-3 chants are still alive.
Manning threw his first Touchdown pass to Defensive Lineman-turned-Fullback Mitch Unrein, the local boy from Eaton, Colorado. Demaryius Thomas, who made 8 grabs for 99 yards, caught the other two Touchdown passes from Peyton.
The Broncos spent the entire 2nd Quarter trailing 10-7, but turned it on after halftime, scoring 21 unanswered points on Thomas' 2 TD catches and Miller's 26-yard Interception return for a Touchdown, with an assist from Mitch Unrein, who caused Buccaneer Quarterback Josh Freeman to make an errant throw.
All in all, it was a good victory. The Offense scored 24 points and the Defense held Tampa Bay's Doug Martin to 56 yards on 18 carries. The Denver Defense allowed 71 total rushing yards and 235 passing yards. Von Miller got his 15th Sack, his first career Interception and first career Touchdown in addition to his 6 total Tackles for the game. My guess is he will be considered for the AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Meanwhile, Peyton Manning threw for a Broncos team record 29th Touchdown pass on the season, once again eclipsing one of his Bosses records. John Elway has to be happy. Plan "A" is working just fine thank you. executive of the Year? Perhaps we will see Manning and Miller take Player of the Week honors.
Another player I am going to continue promoting, is Trindon Holliday, who is largely responsible for the Broncos excellent starting positions. Is there anybody out there who misses Eddie Royal? I didn't think so. Eddie is a good dude, but the Broncos got Jambalaya in the diminutive speedster from LSU. Holliday returned 4 punts today for 95 yards, a whopping 23.8 yard average. Trindon nearly broke free for a score in the 3rd Quarter, returning a punt 45 yards to the Tampa Bay 40 yard line. The Broncos could have blown the contest wide open if not for Manning throwing an Interception to Lavonte David on the next play. The Broncos Defense held the Bucs to a Field Goal off that Turnover and they held on for the win.
Another top notch game from Chris Harris today as well. Harris, along with Von Miller, led the team in total Tackles for the game with 6 each. Chris had two pass Breakups and came close to having his second pick six on the year, but it was called back by a penalty flag. I thought he came close on two other occasions. If the Broncos have a "Next Man Up" award, I think Harris has to be the leading candidate. Perhaps they should. More than a few players have stepped up this season. A feather in the cap of the Broncos Front Office to be sure.