Broncos Week 17 Game Balls and Horseshoes

Garrett Ellwood

Handing out hardware for the Broncos 2012 regular season finale.

13-3 Baby! The MHR mantra from two years ago finally came to fruition. Our Denver Broncos went 13-3 in the 2012 NFL regular season, swept the AFC West Division, secured home field advantage throughout the postseason and finished with an 11-game winning streak. To say that this team is peaking at the right time would be an understatement, since I firmly believe they have something to prove and will bring it each week.

In the season finale, Denver whooped up on the Kansas City Chiefs 38-3. Then again, that is what a score should look like when the 1st ranked team in the league meets the 32nd.

Let’s get to the hardware shall we?

OFFENSE

I’m sure I will face some opposition on this, but I rank the Offensive players for Sunday’s game like so:


I’m sure many of you are thinking the Kaptain got lost in a Time Warp. Eric Decker caught 2 Touchdown passes!

Don’t worry, you’ll have your chance to vote on this.

I’m giving the Game Ball to Demaryius Thomas. DT was in beast mode on Sunday’s game, catching 7 of 8 passes thrown his way for 122 yards and one Touchdown. Four of those (plus the TD) went for a 1st Down. Amazing catch withstanding, Optimus Prime was simply dominating. Nearly each Defensive Back had a chance to match up with Demaryius. Only one was able to keep up. On one play. The Chiefs Slot Cornerback, Javier Arenas couldn’t do it. He surrendered 2 catches for 47 yards. 19 of those were YAC (Yards after the catch) and the longest was a 36-yarder. Right Cornerback Jalil Brown had his shot, but Thomas made 2 catches for 33 yards, including a 24 yard grab. Left Cornerback Brandon Flowers allowed 2 grabs for 29 yards, but he broke up one pass too. Free Safety Tysyn Hartman didn't have any chance whatsoever, but he might have had the best seat in the house to witness the one-handed highlight catch for a 13-yard Touchdown in the 3rd Quarter to put the game out of reach at 28-3. No one in the stadium could blame Hartman though. Who would’ve thought that anyone could catch that ball?
Yes Dominating.
Peyton Manning gets the Golden Horseshoe this week. He is a finalist for the FedEx Air Player of the Week, so you know he was on his game against the Chiefs. Peyton threw for 304 yards, completed 79.3% of his passes, connected for 3 Touchdowns on no Interceptions, had a 98.7 Quarterback rating and a 144.8 Passer rating. The Offensive Line kept him standing all day long as well as the Chiefs weren’t able to Sack him. In fact, they only touched him once and hurried him 3 times in the contest.

The Silver Horseshoe goes to Eric Decker. Deck caught 7 of 8 passes that came his way for 76 yards and a pair of 2nd Quarter Touchdowns to break the game wide open. Three of those catches (plus the 2 TDs) went for a 1st Down. Of the 19 total 1st downs that came through the air, Thomas and Decker were responsible for 10 of them. Dare I say the young receiving tandem had a Rod Smith/Eddie McCaffrey-type afternoon? Well maybe when they have a pair of Rings themselves, but the potential for that is already there. Eric and Demaryius seem to have the work ethic going for them.


The Golden Toothpick, er Horseshoe Nail goes to Right Guard Manny Ramirez. Not only has he been the critical "Next Man Up", Man-Ram has put together his best games back-to-back. He didn’t surrender a Sack Hit or even a Hurry in two games and 59% of the rushing yards gained by the Broncos during that time went over the right side of the line. Considering that starting Right Guard Chris Kuper is arguably the best Linemen on the Broncos squad, perhaps Offensive Line coach Dave Magazu deserves a shout out and a Mile High Salute from Broncos Country for enabling John Fox’s "Next Man Up" maxim.


DEFENSE

2nd year Free Safety Rahim Moore gets the Game Ball for his play against the Chiefs. Rahim totaled 8 Solo Tackles, 1 Sack a Quarterback Hit and 2 Tackles For a Loss. Moore has played all but 26 snaps during the 2012 campaign and has made strides this season, totaling 72 Tackles, 4 Tackles For Loss, one Sack, one Quarterback Hit, 7 Pass BreakUps, a Fumble Recovery and 1 Interception for the year. Not exactly Brian Dawkins numbers, but as the 2nd youngest member of the Broncos, the kid is showing progress.

The Defensive Line is getting the Golden Horseshoe this week. Derek Wolfe graded out as the best overall defender on Sunday. Out of 50 total snaps possible, Wolfe took 37 of them and created havoc, with 2 Solo Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 Tackle For a Loss, 2 Quarterback Hits and one Pass Batted Down. Kevin Vickerson had 5 Tackles and 2 Tackles For a Loss in 28 snaps. Robert Ayers was limited to 16 snaps and made 2 Tackles, but he also got a hit on Chiefs Quarterback Brady Quinn and 2 Hurries. Together, this unit was a huge factor in holding Kansas City to 119 total yards, 93 of which came in the ground game. Prior to Sunday, the Chiefs had been averaging 153.5 yards per game (4th in the NFL) and leading rusher Jamaal Charles (1,509 yds) had been averaging 97 yards per game only managed 53 for the contest.


The Linebackers were the weakest part of Denver’s Defensive effort on Sunday, so the Silver Horseshoe goes to the three Defensive Backs who graded out best in Coverage. Doubtless, the Line had a lot to do with disrupting the Kansas City Offense, Mike C. Adams, Champ Bailey and Tony Carter capably nullified any aerial assault the Chiefs could mount. Bailey finished with 3 Tackles, 1 For a Loss and allowed 1 catch to Shaun Draughn for -2 yards. Adams made 3 Tackles, had 1 Pass BreakUp and allowed one 5-yard pass completion to Dexter McCluster. Carter broke up a pass attempt to Devon Wylie and effectively blanketed his assigned man throughout the game.

Von Miller had something of a lackluster performance by his standards. Yet still worthy of eclat. Miller had 3 Tackles, 2 For a Loss, one Sack and a Quarterback Hit. Von's totals for the season are 68 Tackles, 28 For a Loss, 18.5 Sacks, 24 Quarterback Hits, 52 Hurries, 6 Forced Fumbles, 2 Pass BreakUps and 1 Interception for a Touchdown. No wonder the Broncos "Chief Disrupter" got a starting nod for the Pro Bowl.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Game Ball goes to Kicker Matt Prater, who converted five Extra Points and a 42-yard Field Goal. Matt also kicked off 7 times, four of which went for Touchbacks. The other three were ran back an average of 23 yards by Kansas City return man Devon Wylie, with a long of 26-yards.

Other than that, Steven Johnson had two of the three Special Teams stops, with Andre Caldwell picking up the other on kickoffs. Virgil Green had the lone Tackle required on Punt Coverage.

You could say that Britton Colquitt outdueled his brother Dustin, since Britton only punted 3 times to his elder brother’s 8 attempts. But really, those are a testimony to the Denver Offense and Defense. Britton had a gross average of 44.7 yards and a Net of 41. Dustin finished with a gross of 46.6 and a Net average of 45.8 yards, limiting Denver return man Jim Leonhard to two returns for a total of 7 yards.

Savor the 13-3 people. It’s been a long time coming and the ride is only getting better.

Go Broncos!

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