In a game that the Denver Broncos controlled a majority of the time at the line of scrimmage, the Miami Dolphins controlled the score all the way until five minutes and one second left in regulation. It was that kind of game for these Broncos. The kind that make us fans C-R-A-Z-Y.
The evolution of Peyton Manning
I recently created quite the controversy by stating the Peyton Manning was "off" in his victory over the Miami Dolphins. However, I consider that the ultimate compliment and hopeful evolution of one Mr. Peyton Manning.
In the end, a 22 point fourth quarter explosion pushed us all away from crazy and into euphoric happiness. Peyton Manning (+2.7) ended the game with an efficient 28/35 for 257 yards and 4 touchdowns, but he missed on a couple of throws that could have went for big points early on.
That ended up not being a problem though as Demaryius Thomas (+1.9) finished with most of Manning's touchdowns finishing with 10 catches for 87 yards and 3 touchdowns. He had his seven game streak of 100 yard games broken, but I am sure he'd take 3 touchdown catches a game over a 100 yards receiving every week and not think twice about it. Scoring touchdowns is fun.
All in all, it was the Broncos offense that shined on Sunday. Here's to shining again in Arrowhead next week!
Let's get this In Focus show on the road, shall we?
The Offensive Line +16.9. After ranting and raving about how much I hated the new offensive line configuration, the coaching staff decided to assure success by mostly playing with six lineman in the game at a time. The results were 175 yards rushing and a ton of happiness for the fans. I'm still not convinced, but I'll definitely take it this week! The biggest positive is how green all of their grades were on the day: Ryan Clady +1.7, Orlando Franklin +3.7, Will Montgomery +3.1, Manny Ramirez +5.2 (WOW!), Louis Vasquez +3.2, and Paul Cornick +1.5. Freaking eh!
Breakdown: After a week under the microscope, the Broncos’ offensive line responded to their criticism as they set the tone in the running game and kept Manning clean all afternoon. Perhaps it was a telling sign that Denver’s first play from scrimmage was a "blast" play that saw the entire line fire off the ball and get movement on the Miami defensive line, a foreshadowing that the running game was a priority this week. All five starters graded positively while backup tackle Paul Cornick played 18 snaps at tight end and posted a +1.5 grade of his own. It was an impressive effort as the line dominated from start to finish.
Signature Stat: No offensive lineman was charged with surrendering a pressure.
RB C.J. Anderson +4.2. There is no way Montee Ball should get his job back. Two out of the last three weeks the Denver Broncos have committed to running the ball and both of those times it was C.J. Anderson showing that he has NFL speed and ability. This week, he only carried the rock for 27 times for 167 yards and a touchdown, while adding four receptions for another 28 yards. He seemed to get better as the game wore on too.
QB Emmanuel Sanders +2.8. Concussion? No problem. Sanders bounced back from a big time (and dirty) hit against the St. Louis Rams to haul in nine catches for 125 yards against the Dolphins. If Peyton Manning had bee a little more on, he would have had 200+ and multiple touchdowns, but this will have to do. Sanders is exactly the kind of weapon the Broncos were lacking in 2013 and it shows in the deep passing game.
Needs Improvement: Fortunately, there were no glaring offensive issues this week. The only truly poor grade belongs to Virgil Green (-1.7), which can be excused given it was his first game back after extensive missed playing time due to injury. Overall, the offense won this game pretty much all on their own with both the defense and special teams struggled at times on Sunday.
LB Von Miller +4.5. The Von Miller spot goes to, well, Von Miller. He has been in the Top 3 spots 10 times and has owned this top spot 7 times out of 11 games now. Yes, this is Von Miller's spot. Best. Miller has yet to finish with a single negative grade in any game in either pass rushing (+28.4) or run defense (+17.2). The Broncos are truly blessed to have this guy terrorizing and abusing opposing offensive linemen week in and week out.
LB Brandon Marshall +1.7. It felt liked Brandon Marshall was having a bad game, but that's because I was checking his stat line on my fantasy football team. 3 tackles and 1 assisted, with a force fumble, but according to PFF he was closing the running lanes pretty effectively all game long. I'll take efficiency over stats every day of the week, which is probably why I was such a huge Tebow fan back in the day.
DT Terrance Knighton +1.2. Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton was a monster in the middle against the Dolphins, dominating the running lanes and also adding a nice little sack for himself, beating Von Miller by a half step to bring down Ryan Tannehill. Knighton had to pick up the slack a bit as his cohort, Sylvester Williams, had a rough day at the office.
Needs Improvement: Overall, the defense was rather ho hum with mostly average scores outside of the top performers above. The only truly terrible grade came against Sylvester Williams (-2.5) who was abused fairly frequently in the Dolphins rushing attack. He will need to bounce back strong with the Broncos having to face the glass-man named Jamaal Charles and the Kansas City Chiefs next week.