The Aftermath: Broncos win 31-23 and become 2012 AFC West Champions

Dustin Bradford

Add to that a Ravens loss, and the Broncos find themselves in a three-way tie for the 2nd best record in the AFC.

First of all, this win was once again a great TEAM victory. The defense tightened up after allowing an early TD to shut the Bucs down for most of the 2nd half. Special teams had some great returns early from Trindon Holliday to set the offense up in good field position. And the offense found some rhythm in the 3rd adding a couple of TD's to take a commanding 28-10 lead.

Here are some of the numbers from the game:

Von Miller 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT (first in career), 1 TD, 1 FF....I don't care what anyone says, he's the DPOY!

Peyton Manning, 71% completion percentage---is 8th game of season above 70%. Three more TD's pass John Elway and Jake Plummer for most TD's in a season (29 currently).

Demaryius Thomas, 8 receptions 99 yards 2 TD's----went over 1,000 yards receiving today.

Trindon Holliday, 4 punt returns 95 yards (23.8 yard average)

Doug Martin 18 carries, 56 yards, (3.1 YPC)

Champ Bailey held Vincent Jackson to 2 catches and 31 yards---that 24 yarder was on Omar Bolden

TB, 3/12 on 3rd downs, 71 yards rushing

Over the last 4 games, the Broncos D has allowed 12/55 on 3rd down (21.8%)

Here's some positive and negative things I noticed about each unit:

Offense

- O-line getting pushed around

- A lull in rhythm after 1st TD

- Manning INT into triple coverage

- Lance Ball

- not going for first on 4th and 2 in Bucs territory

+ Manning getting the 1st by catching Bucs with 12 men on field

+ Demaryius Thomas winning one on ones and beating double coverage, forcing a lot of PI calls this year

+ Knowshon having a solid game against a tough Bucs run D

+ Tamme making some key catches to move the chains

It seems like Tamme got some more looks with Stokley out of the game. Matthew Willis had a few positive plays which was good seeing how he's had some really bad ones this year. Decker was a non factor because for whatever reason, the Bucs decided to take him out of the game and leave DT one on one a lot. To wrap up the offensive portion, I think Hester will be given a few weeks before being activated. When he does, I hope he takes Ball's spot---I don't want to see that dude on the field anymore.

Defense

- Allowing the Bucs to score 13 in the 4th Q to make the game closer than it needed to be

- Too many penalties, even if the ones on Doom for offsides are just an optical illusion to the refs

- That stupid rule about hitting a QB low----yet another reason why I hate Tom Brady, 2nd time Von's been called for it and he's not playing dirty folks

- For the first week in a while it seems like the opposing offense was completely prepared for our blitz schemes. JDR has to make some adjustments.

+ 3rd down kings yet again

+ Von Miller

+ Front 7 holding the "Muscle Hamster" to a very average performance

+ Champ Bailey shutting down V. Jax----I don't wanna hear anything about Champ moving to safety next year.

+ Chris Harris almost getting 3-4 INT

+ DJ Williams making a nice play in coverage

Special Teams

+ Britton Colquitt you are my hero

+ David Bruton, fantastic save on the goalline to help pin the Bucs deep

+ Trindon Holliday, you are special dude! Leonard still is back there when the kick is going inside the 10, I think when the Broncos are more comfortable with Holliday and he gets some more experience this will change. It's a good tactical move because Leonard is trustworthy with the ball.

- Matt Prater, seriously take the delay of game and push those 40 yarders in 50 range where he'll make it. It is getting harder and harder to defend his inconsistencies.

Tiebreakers and seeding implications

For 2 teams:

1) head to head

2) Conference

3) Common opponents

For 3 teams:

1) Head to Head (only if one team has beaten the other two)

2) Conference

3) Common opponents

4) Strength of Victory

Team

W/L

Head to Head

AFC

Remaining

Broncos

9-3

L to NE, Plays BAL

6-2

OAK, KC, CLE, BAL

Pats

9-3

L to BAL, W DEN

8-1

HOU, SF, JAX, MIA

Ravens

9-3

W NE, Plays DEN

8-2

WAS, DEN, NYG, CIN

Still very interesting. Only the Ravens could clinch by winning out. In that scenario, even if they ended up in a tie, they would have victories over both us and NE. The Pats have to stay one game ahead of Baltimore, so they are looking to win out and have us or somebody else beat the Ravens. We have to win out and hope that NE loses a game somewhere. Of all the remaining schedules, on paper at least the Ravens have the toughest slate to end the year, with the Pats just behind them with games against SF and HOU. Bottom line, we should see this Broncos team playing hard until the end of the year or until their position is secure---whatever that may be.

Looking ahead

The Broncos will have a short week and then travel to OAK to face the Raiders who lost to the Cleveland Browns today. If ever there were a "trap game" this is it. On the road against a vastly inferior opponent, after clinching the division, on a short week. It is up to our coaches and team leaders to keep our guys focused and get them prepared.

Enjoy this victory Broncos Country, for the 2nd year in a row we are AFC WEST Champs!!! It feels a lot better this time around given that we won our clinching game and didn't have to rely on someone else losing. GO BRONCOS!!!

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