Wow, if that's not a way to finish a season I don't know what is. After remembering how the Broncos finished the 2011 regular season with a loss to jaded Kyle Orton and the Chiefs, this felt much sweeter. I'm not even sure where to begin because the Broncos were so dominant on both offense and defense. Let's start by talking the team first.
The Broncos officially finish the season on an 11 game winning streak against a Chiefs team that was outmatched and out-motivated as the Broncos needed a win to clinch the #1 seed as the Texans lost their final game. The Broncos came in as one of the hottest teams in the NFL and while the Chiefs are not really a good benchmark, a 38-3 win is still quite the statement. This is also only the 2nd time in Broncos history they finished with a perfect divisional record and the 11 game winning streak is also the 2nd longest in team history.
Let's break this down:
+ The run game wasn't really that explosive but it was reliable. Moreno had a huge run for 17 yards but was contained most of the game, but got the tough yards as he ran hard on a number of 3rd and short, especially on his touchdown which helped him on his way to 55 total yards to go along with that touchdown before he was pulled to rest. Ball came in because of something we'll talk about later and ran well, even before garbage time. He finished with 66 yards, 1 touchdown on 15 carries and Jacob Hester got more playing time as well, ending the game with 55 yards on 7 carries
+ Peyton F'ing Manning, what else can be said. Before he was pulled he finished the game with 302 yards, 3 TD's and 79.3% completion percentage, he was just on fire the whole game. Not much else to say, one of his best games since arriving in Denver.
+ Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas both had a monster catch and had great games. Decker finished with 76 yards on 7 receptions and two touchdowns while DT had 122 yards and a touchdown. Their huge catches helped the game just get out of hand and showed why they are among the best wide receiver tandems in the NFL. These guys have some serious talent that will hopefully come in handy in the playoffs.
- The Broncos offensive line struggled in the first half in terms of run blocking. The Chiefs were constantly able to get to the back behind the line of scrimmage and that hurt the rushing attack early. While that changed late in the game when the Chiefs defense was exhausted and had virtually given up, if the Broncos want to contend with the better teams in the playoffs, better run blocking is vital.
- Running back Ronnie Hillman started the game strong but then made a huge mistake, a fumble that was almost returned for a touchdown. Luckily Peyton and Joel Dreessen put in the effort to stop the fumble-six. That's the exact play that got Knowshon Moreno benched for half a season earlier this year, and Hillman paid for it. It was also his second fumble on only 94 touches, that's really bad. He is a rookie, and hopefully he learned his lesson, but as Hester and Ball showed, Hillman is required to win games.
+ Derek Wolfe had the best game of his career. He's been hot-and-cold all season but today he was able to get pressure all day, he also stood tall against the run. He ended the game with a sack and two tackles.
+ Robert Ayers continued to be one of the key role players and he, along with Danny Trevathan, deserve mention today. Both have seen their playing time increase over the second half of the season and have done well. Ayers continues to be the most effective pass rushing lineman outside of Elvis Dumervil, and he ended the game with a number of pressures and a hit. Trev also played well today, while he didn't record any stats, he was solid in coverage and continued to play at the point of the ball.
+ The secondary played the best game of the season, some of it may have had to do with Brady Quinn being the opposing QB but they were all over the field and only allowed 49 passing yards, for the ENTIRE game. That's amazing so a shout out to that group.
+ Von Miller ends the season with another sack, giving him 18.5 sacks on the season, a team record. He has been a monster all season.
- The defense was again unable to record a turnover again, which is becoming an issue. The Chief's offense is one that is leading the league in turnovers, you need to create turnovers. To beat a team like the Texans or Patriots you need to force fumbles and interception the ball, period.
- The Broncos held Jamaal Charles under 100 yards and 4.0 YPC, impressive and deserves to be in the "+" area but I since it can't all be good, I wanted to note that both Charles and Draughn were able to abuse the Broncos on the outside, and with the speed or playoff RB's like the Pats Ridley and the Texans Foster, it's important to work on that outside contain.
+ Colquitt, wasn't needed much, that's a good thing but he punted well in his limited time.
+ Prater made all the extra points and a field goal from over 40 yards!
+ No fumbled returns!
+ I'd put Omar Bolden, Steven Johnson and David Bruton as the best group of special teamers in the NFL, these guys are beasts.
This was a great game, the way you want to finish a season, now we have to wait while we see who the Broncos end up getting play in two weeks.