Last season, I created a series entitled "Handing Out Horseshoes" as a way of showing appreciation for the Bronco players who didn’t get a Game Ball but had an affect on the game, or simply had a great game. This isn’t meant to be an "everyone who participated gets a trophy" type thing, but if you haven’t read this series before, you will understand the method to my madness shortly.
Since Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas received Game Balls this week, they have been removed from consideration. The same with Tracy Porter for the Defense.
The Golden Horseshoe on Offense goes to Tight End Jacob Tamme. Jacob scored the touchdown that put the Broncos ahead for good with 9:23 left in the 4th Quarter after Eric Decker made a catch at the 2-yard line, but didn’t score because his elbow hit the ground and he was touched down at the one. Tamme caught a pass from Peyton Manning and crossed the Goal plane before going out of bounds. Jacob finished with 5 catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. He also had one of the two Special Teams stops for the game.
Center J.D. Walton graded out second to only Peyton Manning as the best Bronco player overall on Offense against the Steelers and the best run blocker for the game. In fact, only Ryan Clady and Zane Beadles graded better in Pass blocking than Walton. He didn’t allow a Sack or a Hurry and didn’t have any bad snaps. J.D. matched up against Pittsburgh Nose Tackle Casey Hampton, who outweighs him by 25 pounds. I saw Walton get pushed back a few times. but he was able to anchor and hold his ground.
For the Orange Horseshoe on Offense, I am going to let the readers decide. Wide Receiver Eric Decker had 5 receptions for 54 yards on 7 targets. The two missed completions were counted as Pass Breakups by Steeler Cornerback Keenan Lewis, who had 3 on the day. Running Back Willis McGahee had 64 yards on 16 carries, but Fumbled once too. Fortunately the Broncos Defense held the Steelers scoreless after that turnover. Contestant number three, is Running Back Knowshon Moreno, who scored the first Denver touchdown in 2012 on a 7-yard cutback run on the Broncos first possession in the 2nd Quarter. Other than that, Moreno’s day wasn’t anything to write home about. He rushed 5 times for 13 yards and allowed one Sack and another Hurry.
Moving to the other side of the ball.
Overall, Pro Football Focus lists Von Miller as the best defender in Week 1 for the Broncos. Even though he had the third highest Tackles with four. Add to that his first two Sacks of the season, 3 Quarterback hits and 5 hurries and you have grounds for the Golden Horseshoe on Defense this week.
For 12 solo stops, 1 Sack, 2 Tackles For a Loss and 2 Hurries, Wesley Woodyard made most of us forget about D.J. Williams. For this week anyway. Wes graded out as the worst Bronco in coverage, though he made up for it with his open field Tackling. For this, Woodyard gets the Silver Horseshoe.
The Orange Horseshoe on Defense goes to Mike Adams, who played all 81 snaps, making 6 Tackles, 3 Pass Breakups, 2 Quarterback Hits and one Hurry. Mike made back to back plays in the 3rd Quarter that helped force the Steelers to settle for a Field Goal, by breaking up a pass intended for Antonio Brown and then stopping Jonathan Dwyer 3 yards shy of a first Down. It was one of the few instances that the Broncos Defense prevented a 3rd Down conversion.
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