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Horse Tracks: How Sweet It Is

Victory is indeed sweet as the Broncos and their fans finally tasted it again. Next week the Broncos head out on the road to meet an angry Chiefs team that is always tough to beat, especially on the road... but for now it is nice to bask in the glory of a big win.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

WOOOOO HOOOOOO, Broncos Country!

See there? See what some good ol' fashioned believin' did for our Broncos? (not to mention a better game plan and some straight-up ballin' by our boys, of course).

But still...Mile High fans helped. So here's another cheer for all of you:

WOOOO HOOOOO!

To help out the MHR team, I agreed to do Horse Tracks this morning as long as Bronco Mike did me a favor:

Since Bronco Mike is such a good guy, he made good on his promise (or he felt guilty for predicting a loss to Miami) Either way, I'm happy about the outcome.

There you have it...Bronco Mike sees a win and Big Pete is in a good mood, so that leaves no excuse for all of not at least enjoying this win.

And before we get ahead of ourselves, let's talk about that nailbiter - Victory with a capital 'V' and that rhymes with 'C' and that stands for C.J.

C.J. Anderson, that is.

Holy Running-on-Fire Batman! That guy would not stop.

Anderson's 167 yards became the most for an undrafted player in Broncos history and 18th best among undrafted running backs in the NFL.

But he's giving credit to his offensive line for a good chunk of those yards.

"You just have to give it up to the big boys up front," Anderson said. "They just took so much from the outside and the media all week, (saying) that they're struggling - ‘Are they going to get it together?' ‘Are we going to get the run game established?'"

Huh, wha...who was saying that? Who didn't think this O-line could pull it together?

Oh, wait.

Hey, CH74?...we should probably send a note.

Or, heck, talk a little louder because IT WORKED!

The offensive line only counted one sack against them, but that was all Peyton Manning and his Eric Decker feet on a third-down play that ended behind the line of scrimmage. Only three penalties were called on the O-line all day, and the "big uglies" created lanes to open up a total of 201 rushing yards for the Broncos.

The Offensive Line went out there first play of the game and said, 'Hey, this is our game today.' They made a statement and I just took the holes and ran.   -C.J. Anderson , running back

"They went out there first play of the game and said, ‘Hey, this is our game today,'" Anderson said. "They made a statement, and I just took the right holes and ran, but you have to give it to all them up front."

Well, C.J., you have to give some of it up to you because that was brilliant running.

Manning thinks so too.

"[The offensive line] is a focused group. It's a group that is forming their chemistry the more they practice and play together," Manning said. "Today was definitely a big step. I thought C.J. really complemented them well."

And it was all thanks to a game plan that committed to the running attack. Broncos ran the ball 33 times, passing it just 35. A much more balanced plan than last week's 150 passes and two runs. (OK, just kidding, I know it was 9 running plays last week and a bazillion passes from Manning).

And a big part of that was the return of tight end Virgil Green.

"It was the plan going in. We wanted to establish the run. We had [TE] Virgil Green back, which I thought was significant and allowed us to do some things that we haven't been able to do in the running game," Manning said, adding that the bulk of running plays probably threw Miami off. "I thought Virgil just blocked his tail off the entire game."

And if you ask the O-Line, they prefer a running game too.

"You're always going to want to run the football, but at the same time, it's the NFL, you're not getting paid for your opinion," said Orlando Franklin. "They're going to tell you what to do and you've got to go out and execute it. Whether it's running the ball or passing the ball, we've got to out there and be effective at it."

Franklin noted that part of the offensive line's motivation was playing better for their teammates.

"It was important for us to come out here and just hold up for our teammates. Peyton Manning, week-in and week-out, he does his job and he does it to the best of his ability. Demaryius Thomas... you're talking about a guy who has 100 receiving yards in each of the last seven games, doing his job week-in and week-out," Franklin said, adding that it was too bad D.T. couldn't get an eighth 100+-yard game. "We knew we had to come out here and do our job. That's all it is. Do your job, and your team is going to be good. It really doesn't matter about what everybody else thinks, as long as we got the win tonight and as long as our teammates are happy with each and every one of us."

Will Montgomery pointed out that the line tried to keep all the negativity from the outside in perspective this week.

"Last week we had a little noise in the other direction, so we just want to stay even-keeled," he said. "It's a long season, so we know there is going to be a lot of ups and downs."

And while he tries not to get too excited one way or the other and just stay focused on the next game, Montgomery did enjoy this game.

"It was fun to be a Denver Bronco today, like I said, we don't want to get too high or too low, we're just going to go out there and just play."

It was fun to be a Denver Broncos fan, too. Even with the nail-biter of a game.

There was drama, magnificent catches, unbelievable runs, a game-sealing INT...and a win. It doesn't get much better. (a solid defense the whole game would make it better, but ...)

"We just kept grinding. We knew we still had a chance to win this game," said linebacker Von Miller. "We knew it was going to come down to the fourth quarter if we just fought through it. I'm proud of all my teammates for doing that, and we were able to pull it off."

Miller even gave the O-Line some props.

I feel proud of all my guys. The offensive line has been under  fire a little bit, and those guys gritted it out. They didn't pay attention to that stuff. They're the tough guys on our team and they showed it today.  -Von Miller, linebacker

"I feel proud of all my guys, all the offensive linemen and C.J. The offensive line has been under fire a little bit, and those guys gritted it out," Miller said. "They didn't pay attention to that stuff. They're the ‘big uglies' on our team, the tough guys on our team, and they went out and showed it today."

Whether it was just last week's loss, or it was all the negative chatter in the media, the Broncos felt it and used it for motivation.

"I think it's better to be mad," said Demaryius Thomas, whose anger translated into 10 catches for 87 yards and a hat trick of touchdowns. "All of us, we talk about playing with a [ticked]-off attitude and it came out, we did that. I think if we can keep doing that, we'll have a better chance every week."

Terrance Knighton, who got the only sack on Ryan Tannehill, said this game was "absolutely" a gut-check game.

"That's why I talked about this week being an important week for the trenches and the team goes as far as we go," said Pot Roast. "The offense goes as far as the O-line (goes), and the defense goes as far as the D-line (goes)."

While the defense struggled at times, giving up 36 points rather than the 17 they like to hold teams under, they still kept Miami's explosive runners to under 100 yards total.

"I wasn't surprised because they have a really unique and very, very effective running game," Miller said. "We were able to cut some of that stuff out in the second half, but the first half got away from us a little bit. They have a very, very capable offense and a pretty good team."

Yeah, that "pretty good team" was beating the Broncos until midway through the fourth quarter, but the Broncos stayed calm and got the job done when it counted.

"That's what it's about - battling through adversity," said Emmanuel Sanders, who had some circus catches to tally his 125 yards and a two-point conversion on the day. "If want to get where we need to get-that's hopefully winning a world championship-we've got to go through teams and we've got to go through tough times in games. Today we battled back, and I think that this win is going to make this team a lot stronger."

One of those battles was a key interception by T.J. Ward with 3:45 left in the game, virtually sealing a victory by stopping a Miami comeback and setting up a touchdown to Wes Welker a few plays later.

"We just knew we had to keep playing," Ward said of his INT. "One of those balls were going to bounce our way. We just had to keep playing, keep fighting. The offense did a great job by keeping points on the board and allowing us to hold strong at the end and make a play."

It was a fun football game. It's a good football team. Great atmosphere, fans were into it. We definitely earned a victory against a good football team today, but we've got to keep it going.  -Peyton Manning, quarterback

Welker pointed out that playing their best in the fourth quarter bodes well moving forward.

"That's when you want to play your best ball-in the fourth quarter. We hung around there and just kept on playing. You've got to keep on fighting until the end, and it worked out for us."

It worked out well for the Broncos ... and Welker too, whose touchdown was the 50th of his career.

"It's taken me a while. It's definitely a cool deal," Welker said of the honor. "If I had known that, I probably would've kept the ball."

But for all the euphoria at Mile High and in the locker room, there's work to be done and five more game to win.

"It was a fun football game. It's a good football team, had a great atmosphere, fans were into it, it was a lot of back and forth," Manning said of the game, noting that despite some early setbacks, the team remained calm, and that was the difference. "We definitely earned a victory against a good football team today, but we've got to keep it going. We can't win one and have a fall off. Got to practice well this week and going on the road to Kansas City-tough place to play at home, at night. We'll enjoy it tonight and keep the edge starting tomorrow."

Horse Tracks:

Broncos find running game, balance in win over Dolphins - The Denver Post
Magnificent running by C.J. Anderson and an inspired performance by a beleaguered offensive line lifted Peyton Manning and the Broncos to 39-36, come-form-behind victory against the Miami Dolphins.

Miami Dolphins vs. Denver Broncos - Recap - November 23, 2014 - ESPN
NFL Football Recap: Final statistics from the Miami vs. Denver game played on November 23, 2014

Dolphins can't explain why they couldn't slow Broncos' running game - The Denver Post
But we can. His name is C.J. Anderson.

Hochman: Turning loose T.J. Ward pays big dividends - The Denver Post
The Broncos' T.J. Ward played arguably his best game for Denver, flying around and making plays.

Demaryius Thomas doesn't get 100, but he does snag 3 TDs - The Denver Post
Come on, record keepers. Can't three touchdown catches keep the 100-yard streak going?

NFL Winners and Losers: Denver Broncos maybe saved their season | Shutdown Corner - Yahoo Sports
From Yahoo Sports: Here are the winners and losers from Week 12 of the NFL season.

Grade the Denver Broncos' performance vs. Miami Dolphins - The Denver Post
Rate the Broncos' defense, offense, coaching and special teams performance in their Week 12 game to the Miami Dolphins.

Balanced Offensive Attack Spurs Peyton Manning, Broncos Offense to Bounce Back
The latest NFL news, rumors, scores, schedules, predictions, picks against the spread, free agent updates, power rankings, mock drafts and more.

Did Broncos fans boo Peyton Manning in first half of Denver-Miami game? | SI.com
SI.com - sports news, scores, photos, columns and expert analysis from the world of sports including NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, NASCAR, college basketball, college football, golf, soccer, tennis, fantasy and much more.

NFL standings and playoff picture: Packers unseat Lions for NFC North lead - SBNation.com
A huge NFC West showdown in Week 13 is now on deck after the 49ers and Seahawks both won to improve to 7-4 prior to their Thanksgiving clash.

NFL scores, news and highlights: What happened Sunday in Week 12 - SBNation.com
The NFL season is heading into the stretch run, and things are wide open. Let's dissect Week 12.