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Broncos' win as much about proving to selves as to rest of NFL

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Especially for No. 17, who has spent his entire NFL career so far on the bench, the 22-20 win over the Seahawks was a great confidence booster for the potential of the season to come.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

As Coach Gary Kubiak noted in his post-game speech to the team, "it's always about winning."

So it would be hard to find anyone happier than the coach with Friday night's 22-20 outcome over the Seahawks.

But if there were anybody happier with Brock Osweiler's performance in the Broncos win than Kubiak (or even relieved Broncos fans), it would most definitely be Osweiler himself.

After all - as the backup quarterback pointed out - he hasn't started a game since 2011, which is an eternity in today's NFL.

So you can't blame the guy for probably wondering about his game skills too.

I think it's big to go out there and show yourself you can still do it. It was a big deal confidence-wise.   -Brock Osweiler

"I think it's big. ...To go out there and show yourself you can still do it, I think it was a big deal confidence-wise," Osweiler said after the preseason game in which he completed 15 of 20 passes, including a sweet 17-yard toss in the end zone to Virgil Green - another guy who has been waiting in the wings to test himself. "But I'm also a firm believer that you play like you practice and over the past three years I've taken every single practice seriously."

Osweiler certainly proved that Friday night, showing patience and poise as the Broncos' starting field general.

"I was really impressed with him," Kubiak said of his backup QB. "Once he got in a good rhythm, I thought he made some really nice plays. He made good decisions all night long. His work is showing up. He has gotten better in practice."

Osweiler has clearly been taking notes on how to handle press conferences too, as he was quick to highlight the rest of the offense - particularly his offensive line.

"That offensive line played lights out and really got us rolling in the running game," he said.

Rookie lineman Max Garcia said his first NFL game wasn't that big of a deal, and he approached the game the way he has since he was 7 years old - playing hard. It worked well for the young left guard who helped keep Osweiler from much danger all night.

"For me, personally, I love to run‐block. I love to push people and get people out of the way," Garcia said. "Just to start the game off like that... I think that is good. It keeps them on their toes and keeps them guessing."

Osweiler said he considered his job pretty easy, given the help he had from the linemen as well as the running backs and all the skill players.

"The running backs stuck their nose in pass protection and gave me time to keep my eyes downfield," Osweiler said. "I just had to put it in the bucket. It was just go find the open guy or hand it off to the running back and let them go get eight or nine."

Ronnie Hillman, who has been listed as the third back on the depth chart, may have just moved himself up a space - or two - after Friday's performance. Putting up 66 yards over eight carries on the night, the fourth-year back proved he has something to add to this offense.

Kubiak certainly took notice.

"We ran the ball well in the first half, and Ronnie had a lot to do with that," the coach said. "Ronnie's got that gear, maybe that the other guys don't have in our group in terms of getting to the edge. He's been impressive in camp, and lo and behold, you usually show up and play well."

The coach also felt good about his young offensive line, in spite of a few early mistakes and miscues.

"Early we jumped off and had some communication issues. Once they settled down, they played pretty well," Kubiak said, adding that he was particularly impressed with Matt Paradis at center.

[Paradis] ran the group well. He went out there and got them on the right people and made the calls. -Gary Kubiak, head coach

"He ran the group well. He went out there and got them on the right people and made the calls," the head coach said. "For the first night out, you have to feel good about it."

And if coaches and fans were feeling good about this Broncos offense, they were likely ecstatic about that defense that sacked the quarterback seven times and forced fumbles four times.

Finally, after a year of empty promises for an "aggressive defense," a return to the glory days of the Orange Crush seem to be on the horizon.

"When we go out there, we have the mentality that we've got to keep coming and keep trying to get after the quarterback," said first-round draft pick Shane Ray, who had an impressive preseason NFL debut. "I think we did a really good job tonight."

Backup linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who contributed one of the defense's seven sacks, agreed the scheme is well-suited for the team.

"[Wade Phillips] loves the outside linebacker group and what we can do for the team because we have an ability to pass rush," Barrett said. "If we get after the quarterback the way we did last game, he's going to be looking like a great coach and we're going to be looking like a great defense."

And a notable difference from the recent past was that this defense wasn't just about being aggressive. It was about "derailing" the offense's plan, according to third-string defensive end Kenny Anunike, who looked like anything but a backup on Friday.

"We  were really just going out there and flying around," Anunike said, "just using all the techniques Coach Bill Kollar taught us - get after the quarterback and be a menace on the field."

That "menace" proved too much for the Seahawks quarterbacks, including mobile wonder boy Russell Wilson, who had to claim two of the Broncos' seven sacks on the QBs. And even when those quarterbacks stayed upright, they had a tough time making plays.

"I think [the Seahawks] really found out they had some problems to answer," Anunike said. "Who are we going to block? Are we going to block 91? Are we going to block 48? Because you can't block us all. You never know who's coming. If it's going to be the Will coming and with the Sam dropping or the Sam coming and the Will dropping. It's a great defense."

For Anunike, who has been impressive in camp, the chance to play after sitting out a year due to an elbow injury last season was an "amazing" feeling for the Duke grad.

"I've just been chomping at the bit," Anunike said, adding that he put the time off to good use by getting ready to play the NFL level. "I got out there today, and I was so hungry."

It appeared most of the Broncos on that field were too. But despite the win, players know there is plenty of work to be done (cough, special teams, cough), but Osweiler certainly wasn't lost on the magnitude of the win - even if it was just preseason.

"It's about this young team coming together in a hostile environment and playing great football," Osweiler said, praising the defense for its performance against one of the top offenses in the NFL. "For us to come in here and run the football and play defense like we did, I think that makes a big statement early. But obviously we've still got a ton of work to do. We've just got to keep moving in the right direction."