Denver Broncos Game Balls-Week 13

US PRESSWIRE

Outstanding performances by players not named Von or Peyton.

The Denver Broncos got their 9th win of the season this week, beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-23. The superstars (Manning and Miller) played well as expected and the rest of the team has come together to play complementary football. That in itself has been the main reason for the 2012 Broncos success. The Front Office has put together a good group of guys and should be commended as well. Bringing in players like Dan Koppen and Trindon Holliday to equip head coach John Fox’s "Next Man Up" mantra shows that the leadership of the Broncos starts at the top. Complementary management compliments the complementary coaching staff, which in turn, makes complementary football contagious.

But enough with the witticisms, we’re here to acknowledge which Broncos bucked the best.

OFFENSE

The Game Ball on Offense for Week 13 goes to Wide Receiver Demaryius Thomas. The Broncos 1st round pick in 2010 is finally coming into his own. The 3rd year product out of Georgia Tech caught 8 balls for 99 yards and 2 Touchdowns on 10 targets in Sunday’s contest. For the year, Demaryius has 69 receptions for 1,114 yards and 8 Touchdowns. All career highs. And there is still a month left in the season. I credit his health and the presence of Peyton Manning for the surge in Thomas’s development. Hard work may beat talent when talent doesn’t work hard, but combine the two and you get "Optimus Prime" as your main receiving threat. What a weapon this kid is turning into.

Honorable Mention: A Shout out to Tight End Jacob Tamme, who had a pretty good game as well. Filling in for Brandon Stokley as Peyton Manning’s reliable safety valve, Jacob made 9 catches for 89 yards on 13 targets. Many of those grabs weren’t for 1st downs like Stokley’s, but they helped keep the Broncos Offense in rhythm.


DEFENSE

As I stated earlier, Peyton Manning and Von Miller are the superstars of this team and they continue to bring it week in and week out. Miller may be the best Defensive player in the league this season and that’s without the orange tinted eyeshades. The numbers are there and the opposing teams focus their game plans on him.

This week, I’m giving the Game Ball on Defense to Cornerback Chris Harris. This finalist for the 2012 Broncos "Next Man Up" award was nearly as impactful as Mr. Miller. And that’s saying something. Chris played 65 out of a possible 67 snaps, drawing Tampa Bay #2 Wide Receiver Mike Williams as his primary assignment. He held Williams to two catches out of 5 targets and breaking up two passes. Williams had two catches for 41 yards and only 3 yards after catch. Harris allowed one catch each to Tiquan Underwood (12 yds) and Dallas clark (1 yd). It was Harris' best overall outing of the season as far as effectiveness.

Honorable Mention: A Shout out to shut down Cornerback Champ Bailey, who held the very dangerous Vincent Jackson to a paltry 2 catches for 31 yards.


SPECIAL TEAMS

It’s no surprise that Trindon Holliday has been so frequently mentioned in this column. The 2nd year speed demon has grown in confidence through the ministrations of Special Teams Coordinator Jeff Rodgers and Assistant Keith Burns. Holliday is making a difference each week in the Field Position Battle. In Sunday’s contest against the Buccaneers, Trindon returned one Kickoff 26 yards, but his real contribution came from 4 Punt return chances, where he gained 95 yards. A 23.8 yard average on Punt Returns isn’t the everyday norm either. For anyone not named Hester or Cribbs anyway. Trindon has been a threat to return a punt or Kickoff to the house in each game he’s played in a Bronco uniform. He brought back one punt 45 yards on Sunday that set up the Broncos Offense at the Tampa Bay 40 yard line. That had Peyton Manning so excited that he threw an Interception straight to Lavonte David on the very next play. Holliday leads the League in Kick Return average with 37.4-yards per game. He is 2nd with a 13.0-yard average in Punt Returns since arriving in Denver (Week 6). Trindon spent the first 5 games this season with the Texans. He showed up with the Broncos just in time for the Broncos’ first victory of their current seven-game win streak.

Here are Holliday’s return yardage totals.

Week Opponent Punt Return Kick Return Total Yards
8 Saints 43 0 43
9 Bengals 2 119 (105 TD) 121
10 Panthers 125 (76TD) 44 169
11 Chargers 22 18 30
12 Chiefs 0 96 96
13 Buccaneers 95 26 121
Total 6 games 287 303 590



FINAL WORD


Best Value Honorable Mention: A huge Shout out to one of the Unsung Lunch Pail guys. Defensive Tackle-slash-Fullback Mitch Unrein for his perfect reception stat. 1 catch for 1 yard and 1 Touchdown on 1 target. 100% effectiveness from the big man. Mitch played 25 snaps on Sunday, with 1 Solo Tackle, 1 Quarterback Hit and 2 Hurries, including the one that allowed Von Miller to Intercept and Return for a Touchdown in the 3rd Quarter. So indirectly, Unrein was responsible for putting 2 Touchdowns on the board.

Oh, and that 1-yard Touchdown catch in the first quarter? That was the first Offensive Touchdown by a Defensive lineman in Broncos history. It also represented the first receiving score by an NFL Defensive lineman since Ryan Denney of the Buffalo Bills accomplished it on Sept. 27, 2009.

This has to be one of the most memorable seasons I can remember in quite awhile. Enjoy the ride Broncos Country.

Go Broncos!

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