In the 2013 season's Game of the Year (so far), the Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys went down to the wire. Nearly 900 passing yards were had between quarterbacks Tony Romo and Peyton Manning. The teams were tied 48-48 with 2:39 to play in the game.
Then Danny Trevathan intercepted Tony Romo on the Cowboys' 24-yard line. A handful of first downs, and some questionable game/clock management by the Cowboys, allowed the Broncos' Matt Prater to kick a game-winning field goal as time expired.
The Broncos defense, without starters Champ Bailey, Von Miller, Wesley Woodyard, Chris Harris Jr., and Robert Ayers, were exhausted and exposed. The offense scored the second-most points in franchise history (a record just broken last week in Philadelphia), but still needed Matt Prater to win the game late in the fourth quarter. Peyton Manning threw four touchdowns and rushed for another, but also threw his first interception of the 2013 season.
It was as memorable as any Broncos win in the last year, a game with several lead changes, big plays, and heart attack-inducing moments.
The Cowboys struck fast and early, taking a 14-0 lead in the first quarter behind touchdowns by DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant (Bryant tortured the Broncos all game, finishing with 141 receiving yards and two touchdowns). Then Manning and company came firing back. Julius Thomas caught two touchdowns; Eric Decker hauled in one; Peyton Manning ran cleanly into the end zone for a touchdown off a naked bootleg. The Broncos went on a 28-6 run to take a 28-20 lead into halftime.
Wow. #DENvsDAL— NFL (@nfl) October 6, 2013
But the Broncos lost key defensive leaders Harris, Ayers, and Woodyard early in the game, and the value of those blue collar players would be illustrated throughout the second half. Tony Romo hit Terrance Williams for an 82-yard touchdown in the third quarter, while Jason Witten punctuated his explosive day with a touchdown in the fourth quarter (Witten had 121 yards, nearly his total for Weeks 1-4 combined).
In the end, one big play by the Broncos defense made the difference. Trevathan's interception of Tony Romo set the Broncos up with a short field. Denver was able to march down the field to the one-yard line, then kneel down and kill the clock for Prater to attempt a game-winning field goal.
The Broncos remain undefeated, moving to 5-0, their best season start since 2009, and with a renewed appreciation for the differences players like Champ Bailey and Wesley Woodyard make on the Broncos defense.