The Denver Broncos overtime home win against the Cincinnati Bengals put both teams at 11-4 on the year, with the Broncos holding the tiebreaker and now control the number two seed in the AFC playoffs.
Down 14-3 at halftime, the Broncos came alive in the second half to nearly completely shut down the Bengals offensively, while also discovering that the no huddle and run game would find success. The Broncos would outscore the Bengals 17-3 after halftime and never really lost control of momentum.
In this victory, the Broncos find both redemption and confidence heading into the final week of the season. Here are our game balls for Week 16!
Brock Osweiler is going to have questions about his performance in two halves again this week, but there shouldn't be. The Denver Broncos barely had a chance to get things going offensively until late in the second quarter. From then on, it was Osweiler making good decisions with the football and never letting momentum swing completely back the Cincinnati Bengals way. Whether is be desperation throws like this.
Or driving the Broncos down the length of the field down two scores to open up the second half. Capping the drive with a perfectly placed pass to guide Emmanuel Sanders inbounds and into the end zone.
That wasn't enough for the young signal caller. No, he needed to put together an actual game-winning drive with time ticking down. So what does he do? He makes this throw.
The drive should have won the game, but Brandon McManus would give us the shank of all shanks to send the game into overtime.
A lot of young quarterbacks would fold under that kind of pressure (see AJ McCarron in his overtime possession). Not Brock. Brock went for the jugglar and almost got it, if not for a big hit by Reggie Nelson near the goal line on a perfectly placed pass from Osweiler to Owen Daniels.
McManus wouldn't shank his next kick, while Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware made a quick ending to the Bengals hopes and dreams on the first two overtime plays from scrimmage. Game over.
Osweiler is 4-2 as a starter and the Broncos have weathered his struggles, while witnessing how he stands tall against the NFL's best talent. I can't wait to see what he brings to the table in the playoffs.
Peyton Manning has taught his young padawan well. A Jedi Knight in the making it seems. - Tim Lynch
The Denver Broncos get the game ball. They won this game as a team. How it responded in the second half and overcame adversity is a testament to the coaches and players. The Broncos didn't lose faith or confidence. They didn't let a horrid first half stop them. Nor a shank from a kicker. A fumble on a big drive. It wasn't one player or a coach. The Broncos won this game as a team that complemented all aspects. If Denver doesn't do that, it doesn't win this game. - Ian St. Clair
C.J. Anderson was playing hurt, but that wasn't going to stop his ability to take over a game and make a huge impact against Cincinnati. He may have only carried the ball 9 times, but he made the most of the opportunities he was given. His production totaled 73 yards and he capped off a tremendous fourth quarter with a 39 yard touchdown scamper that ignited confidence in his teammates and coaches which helped propel the team to victory. Gutsy performances such as that have made him a fan favorite worthy of praise and admiration. If the Broncos want to have success in the playoffs, they will need Anderson healthy and ready to run when the time comes. - Christopher Hart
For the second week in a row, Sanders had a huge game for the Broncos, but like No. 10 has been doing all year, he did it with just a few big catches at important times. In a first half that had very few Broncos highlights, Sanders’ 35-yard first down catch near the end of the second quarter sparked the offense and set up a Broncos’ field goal. It also put Sanders over the 1,000-yard season mark for a second consecutive year.
Sanders’ 8-yard touchdown to cap the Broncos’ first drive of the third quarter put the team back in the game and set a tone that the Broncos were not folding – not this game. Sanders said after the game, he was excited to "make a play" on the huge first-half catch and provide a spark for the team. That second reason was the most important thing Sanders did with his four catches for 67 yards.
"Obviously, the whole game they were reading the quarterback and on that one play he actually read my route. I just threw my hand up and kept running. It felt good to go out and make a play," Sanders said. "I was able to spark the crowd and spark the team." - Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann
Demaryius turned 28 on Christmas day, which I’m guessing is the first one he got to spend with his since he was 11. He seemed somewhat revitalized, after a sub-par performance agains the Steelers. Demaryius looked like he was fighting, he didn’t drop any passes, and he actually seemed to be having some fun out there. I am confident that once Brock and DT develop a rhythm and chemistry, they will been a great QB/WR duo. Let’s just hope it happens before the playoffs. - Kelly Fleming
My game ball goes to the coaches. I called them out last week for lackluster preparation and no adjustments. They were a big part of flipping the script this week. They adjusted to the ferocious Bengal attack, switched the defense to zone concepts to slow down their QB, and had surprisingly good in game coaching calls (time outs to "help" get the refs to review plays). The whole team was dialed in. The whole team contributed to clawing, biting, kicking, and screaming for this well deserved win. That is a sign of good leadership and the coaches deserve a hat tip for it. - Sadaraine
Owen Daniels x2
Brock's toss to Owen Daniels in the 4th, over the linebackers and before the safeties got me, both the call from Kubiak shows me that he trusts Osweiler and the successful connection. I am a believer.
Now that I've said that, I'd give me game ball to Owen Daniels. For weeks Kubiak harped on 'execution', I mentioned often that it seemed like Kubiak refused to take blame for the losses. Well, we saw what happened when those guys started executing, Daniels caught his balls, for the second week Osweiler made major gains off of a blown coverage and Daniels further executed when sticking back in protection to assist Michael Schofield. It has become clear that when Daniels is on, the whole offense clicks. - Ian Henson
Everyone was all excited when Vernon Davis came to town, assuming he still had some speck of playmaking in him, and would make Denver's offense more dynamic. The only dynamic element Davis has added has been an additional set of hands that's really good at dropping footballs. His non-clutch, no-tough performances have made me sick.
Enter Owen Daniels. Denver's tight end led the team in receiving yards (70) and was 2nd on the team in receptions (5), with nearly all of his catches moving the chains for the Broncos. Plus, there's this.
Owen Daniels got hammered by Reggie Nelson pic.twitter.com/zNJCcQ7Zlf
— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) December 29, 2015
Daniels didn't hold onto the football there, but he 1. Didn't shy away from the hit and 2. Thanked Reggie Nelson on Twitter.
Classy move by a tough-as-nails Bronco. - Kyle Montgomery
Denver's linebacker was a run-stuffing monster against the Bengals, finishing with 12 tackles that included at least 10 stops according to PFF, who had him as Denver's highest graded player on offense or defense. Early on, it seemed no one on Denver's defense really wanted to tackle Bengals players - no one outside of Trevathan, that is. His and the defensive line's run defense held Bengals runners to 3.3 yards per carry (even including AJ McCarron's 16-yard run) and held Cincinnati running backs to 77 yards and 2.8 yards per carry. We all know that any young quarterback's best friend is a strong running game; Trevathan made sure McCarron didn't have that when the game was getting out of hand. - Kyle Montgomery
Who gets your game ball, Broncos Country?