Super Bowl 2014: Knowshon Moreno's time to shine?

Kevork Djansezian

With yet another gritty offseason and the trust of Peyton Manning, Moreno has become one of the most important cogs of the Denver Broncos's prolific offense. This wasn't always the case however. Only now some five seasons after he was drafted has the puzzle finally come together for Knowshon Moreno.

Let me hit you with some background in case you're unfamiliar with #27. Knowshon Moreno up until last year was persona non grata. He was a product of a woefully bad draft by a regime (Josh McDaniels) thankfully forgotten. In the eyes of Broncos fans he was an oft-injured, over-drafted, dime a dozen back who was incapable of making an impact in the running game.

Let me hit you with something else. Over the past two seasons, Moreno has become a fan favorite who is viewed in quite a different light. For some reason John Elway and company stuck with Moreno even after drafting running backs in back to back drafts. In that time all it took was the inconsistency of younger players and a major injury to Willis McGahee to thrust Moreno back into a starting role.

At first Broncos fans were so happy he was producing many saw fit to blow off his 3.7 yards per carry average. He was getting positive yardage baby! He was running harder. He was scrapping for that extra yard or two, he was running with a purpose. For most fans, Moreno started to shed his bad rep with one giant hurdle over Ed Reed in the open field against Baltimore. It was a thing of beauty, something that Broncos fans were shown was possible through highlight reels on youtube from his college days.

Game after game since then, Moreno has seemingly breathed life into a running game that was not as productive as it could have been.

A lot of the time people are judged in the manner of how they accomplish something rather than by the outcome itself. For Moreno, this is no different. Broncos fans love seeing a determined attitude. They love seeing him pop up after picking up a good gain or getting a first down with that confidence on full display. They love that he will fight and scrounge for those tough yards to keep the offense on the field. He's a worker. Not flashy, but steady and physical with some swagger to go along with it.

Moreno's road to redemption was a long one. After a fumble week 2 against Atlanta in 2012, Moreno sat on the bench inactive for most of the season until McGahee got hurt. The previous offseason he was the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons, receiving a DUI with the license plates on his Bentley reading "SAUCED". After battling those demons, inconsistency issues, and John Fox's fumbling doghouse, he did the only thing he could do. Keep his head up, his mouth shut, and his effort on the highest level possible.

It's paid off. In season two of the Manning era the Broncos had a plan. They limited his per game touches to keep legs fresh and injuries minimal. He is not the workhorse Lynch is in Seattle, but on one very ugly evening in NE, he proved he could be, if only in flashes. On that frigid night Moreno carried the rock a career high 37 times for 224 yards. He carried the offense on a night when the cold and wind played with the Broncos passing game.

This season Moreno has proven to be an effective runner between the tackles, off the edge, and in the trenches when the Broncos need to convert a tough 3rd down. He is a willing blocker stonewalling blitzer after blitzer and he has become an exceptional receiver. In 2013 he became the first RB in Denver Broncos history to combine 500 yards receiving with 1000 yards rushing.

For a fanbase that gets to see Lynch run the ball week in and week out I hope Seahawk fans appreciate what you will see from Knowshon on Sunday. He may only touch the ball 15-20 times and catch another 4-5 passes but every time the ball is in his hands the relentless violence and reckless abandon he runs with might remind you a bit of #24. He isn't going to make his bones against loaded boxes, but he is the perfect fit for the Manning offense. For a team that has so exhibited the resilient motto of "Next Man Up" week after injury riddled week, the Broncos have found one of it's leaders, a true diamond in the rough.

After years of being labeled porcelain by a disappointed fanbase, Moreno is one of the toughest guys on our team forged from iron by a tough past and turbulent young career. He has made Broncos Country proud. I had the fortune of attending the AFC Championship Game live and when Moreno hopped back up from a rib injury, the pop from the crowd was something very unique. After years of being told he wasn't good enough, he is finally one of us.

Will the epilogue to his journey play out in Super Bowl triumph? Whatever happens from here, it has been a pleasure to watch him grow as a player and person. Win or lose, we will get his best on Sunday and that is all anybody can ask for.

Lynch vs. Moreno, Tale of the tape (2013)

Category

Lynch

Moreno

Carries

301

241

Yards

1257

1038

Avg

4.2

4.3

TD

12

10

Rec

36

60

Yards

316

548

Avg

8.8

9.1

TD

2

3

DYAR

183 (5th)

171 (6th)

DVOA

5.8% (17th)

8.4% (13th)

Elusive

63.8 (2nd)

23.6 (26th)

Breakaway

25.0 (16th)

23.5 (20th)

YDS/Pass Route

1.21

1.60

100 yard games

3

1

Fumbles

4

1

Pass Blocking

96.5 (4th)

93.1 (10th)

GO BRONCOS!!!

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