3rd and Long - Defending our House


After weeks of making mistakes and letting our opponents capitalize on those while not forcing our opponents into many mistakes, the Broncos played a very complete game. While we only forced one turnover, it was crucial. Offensively we beat the Chiefs at their own game, playing more conservatively than we have, but in doing so limiting mistakes to one fumble (which we immediately go back on the next play) and one fumble which Wes recovered himself despite head trauma. We won the battle of field position when we had to, limiting the KOR yards (touchbacks) and PR yards while not giving the Chiefs any extra yards with touchbacks on punts (Dustin had 3, Britton had 0). The defense stiffened when they had to, taking a page out of the Chiefs playback from this season, limiting the chiefs to two TDs (3 scores) on 4 red zone possessions. On the season KC has only scored TDs on 48.5% of their red zone possessions (25th in the league) - so they did against us, what they have done against others


The Broncos forced the Chiefs into 14 3rd downs, 6 of which were 3rd and long. Here are those situations and the outcomes:

3rd and 12 at KC 18 (Shotgun) A.Smith pass incomplete short left to J.Charles.
3rd and 10 at KC 36 (Shotgun) A.Smith sacked at KC 29 for -7 yards (sack split by M.Jackson and S.Phillips).
3rd and 7 at DEN 29 (Shotgun) A.Smith pass short left to D.Bowe to DEN 20 for 9 yards (D.Ihenacho).
3rd and 7 at KC 40 (Shotgun) A.Smith pass incomplete deep left to D.McCluster.
3rd and 27 at KC 39 (Shotgun) A.Smith pass short middle to D.McCluster to KC 45 for 6 yards (W.Woodyard).
3rd and 17 at KC 49 A.Smith pass short middle to A.Fasano to DEN 41 for 10 yards (C.Harris).

We forced them to punt on 5 of those 6. Their lone conversion came on that 9 yard completion to Bowe on their FG drive in the second quarter. So far this season the Broncos have been getting their opponents in 3rd and long 63% of the time on 3rd down. With only 6 of 14 (43%) of their 3rd downs as "long"s, the Chiefs did a decent job of staying on schedule and getting in more manageable distances to convert. They had three 3rd and shorts (converting only 1 of 3), one of which was the critical 3rd and goal from the 1 (big stop by Johnson). Their only 3rd and short conversion came on the defensive holding call on 3rd and 2 in the first quarter. They were most successful on 3rd and medium (4-6 yards), converting 3 of 4 (6,6,5 and 5 yards to go). In fact they converted their last three 3rd and mediums against us with our only stop coming on their third possession of the game.


If you look at the other side, the Chiefs were able to hold the Broncos to 0 for 8 on 3rd and long. So far this their conversion % allowed on 3rd and long is 19.5%. When the Broncos were able to stay on schedule offensively, we were able to convert 6 of 8 3rd downs (on short and medium distances). Their two 3rd down stops that were not on 3rd and long were the fumbled hand-off on 3rd and 1 and a KM run on 3rd and 5 that gained 1 (right before the missed Prater FG). The Chiefs continued to be great at stopping teams on 3rd and long this game, but the Broncos were able to convert on 3rd and short or medium where other offenses have failed this year. Their first 9 opponents were 22 of 59 on 3rd and NOT long (37.2%) so far this season.


On the season the Broncos have now allowed conversion on 26.9% of 3rd and longs. Overall we have allowed conversion on 37.6% of all 3rd downs - that currently ranks us 15th in the league. Our offense was only able to convert on 6 of 16 3rd downs (37.5%) this game. While that raised the Chiefs' 3rd down allowed % slightly, they are still leading the league at 27.2% (they came into the game at 25.8%).


The Chiefs offense stayed out of 3rd and long better than half of the time against us because they were able to gain ground on us on first down runs. On first down runs they gained 69 yards on 14 carries (4.9 ypc). One of those was the 35 yard run by Charles. If you take that run out of the equation, they gained 34 yards on their other 13 1st down runs (2.6 ypc). What they were able to avoid (for the most part) was running plays on first down that resulted in zero or negative yards. Of their 14 1st down runs, only one resulted in a TFL and only two went for no gain. The Chiefs have been quite good this year at avoiding plays that gain zero or negative yards. They were the worst team in the league last year in that stat.

On the season so far the Broncos have allowed 475 yards on 128 first down carries (3.7 ypc). We have 20 TFL and 13 stops for no gain on those carries (25.7% of first down carries against us have resulted in zero or negative yards). I'm not sure how that compares to other defenses in the league (since I can't find a site that has the stat), but that number looks pretty good to me.


Looking forward to next Sunday night, the Pats are a surprising 21st in the league in 3rd down conversion % (35.8). The Pats in their last 3 games have done this on third downs:

  • vs MIA - 8 of 17
  • vs PIT - 7 of 12
  • vs CAR - 5 of 10

20 of 39 (51.2%) over their last 3 games. That is much closer to what they could do in 2012 when they led the league in offensive 3rd down conversion % (48.7%).

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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