In 2010, the Broncos were a terrible football team that was embroiled in a Patriots-brand cheating (Spygate II) scandal that ultimately led to Coach Josh McDaniels dismissal. In the last three games of the season against the Raiders, Texans, and Chargers, Tim Tebow had taken over for a woefully ineffective Kyle Orton and re-energized a distraught fanbase.
Enter the 2011 season.
For better or worse, it will be remembered as the 'Year of Tebow' and by week 10, the legend was just beginning to germinate within Broncos Country. After an ugly 1-3 start to the season, Broncos fans were once again demanding a change at the quarterback position. Kyle Orton's time would end at halftime of the week 5 matchup against the Chargers in Denver.
By week 10, the Broncos had already had stunning wins against the Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders, and now they were heading to the unfriendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs. This is a look at that game using Mile High Report's original recap, artfully written by former MHR contributor Troy Hufford, found here.
The Broncos escaped with a win. After the Broncos marched (literally) down the field for an early score, the Broncos were up 7-0 and never relinquished the lead. The Broncos went with the QB spread option for most of the game, although, at times, they even went as far as to debut the triple option. It was clearly a throwback offensive effort, as the Broncos attempted only 8 passes while running 55 times.
While the 2015 Chiefs are a vastly improved team over the one that the Broncos faced in 2011, there is a similarity here. Under Gary Kubiak, the Broncos have already gone on record saying that they want to run the ball more. Expect the C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman to shoulder the offensive responsibilities while Peyton works out whatever it is that kept him from finding his receivers on Sunday. I can, however, assure you that there won't be anything close to 55 runs this Thursday. At least, I hope not.
It was believed, during pregame, that the Broncos would like to throw the ball 20 times and run 30 times for every 50 offensive plays. It's evident that the ratio was a bit more run heavy than expected. In fact, not a single team in the NFL ran as many rushing plays in a single game this season as the Denver Broncos did today.
Call it throwback offense or high school offense... but the results spoke for themselves. At the end of the day, the Broncos notched a win, making it the first time since week 13 of 2009 that the Broncos have back to back wins. It was also a game in which Tim Tebow threw the longest TD pass of his career, a 56 yard bomb to Eric Decker.
Offensive balance like this is what I'm expecting to see. If Denver can sustain drives and convert on third down, Kubiak and all of Broncos Country will be happy. Also, it's worth noting how starved for wins the Broncos and their fans were just four years ago. Denver hadn't had back-to-back wins since 2009? That's crazy!
Meanwhile, Matt Cassel could not get comfortable. The Broncos combined for 4 sacks and 12 quarterback hits on the day. The Chiefs attempted to come back from a 10 point 4th quarter deficit with 6 minutes left. Despite 2 Broncos penalties to extend the drive, they stalled around midfield as Elvis Dumervil came in to deflect a pass on 4th and 5. They had another chance with around 4 minutes to go, but Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller put an end to that drive, as well. The Chiefs, still down 2 scores, put Tyler Palko on the field as the Broncos went into their prevent defense. The Chiefs reached the 14 yard line with 11 seconds remaining and sent the field goal unit onto the field to make the score 17-10.
It's no secret that the subplot to the Tebow saga was defensive success. Without being able to hold teams off, the Broncos inability to score points would have been absolutely deadly. For the record, I'm in no way saying that Manning's struggle last Sunday equates him with Tim Tebow. However, there are defensive similarities. The Broncos are getting to the quarterback. Sure, they only notched two sacks, but they were in quarterback Flacco's face all day and that contributed to poor decisions that led to the two interceptions that tipped the game to Denver's favor. The pass rush is there, my friends. Expect it to be THERE on Thursday night.
This was a huge win for the Denver Broncos, who are still a game out of 1st place in the AFC West, but at 4-5 are now tied with the Chiefs and San Diego for second place. Every team has a 2-2 record within the division. The price for this win, however, was two very costly injuries to Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno, who both left the field in the first half with leg injuries.
Only a game into the season, the Broncos are in a three way tie for the division lead with the Chargers and Chiefs (or just the Chiefs if you want to get super-technical and consider the conference record as tiebreaker). The injuries in this 2011 game are interesting, but not surprising considering they ran it 55 times. Let's stay healthy this Thursday, okay fellas?
The Broncos need to put this win behind them and heal up, as their next game is on Thursday Night Football against the New York Jets, who will have an even shorter week than the Broncos. Their game is on Sunday night against the New England Patriots.
That Jets game was amazing. So amazing in fact that Rex Ryan couldn't resist, but bring some Tebow to the Big Apple. As we all remember, once the Broncos signed Peyton Manning, Tebow was traded (along with a 7th round pick) to the Jets for a 4th and 6th round pick in the 2012 draft.
Remember folks, Tim Tebow only completed two passes the entire game. It is possible for the Denver Broncos to win relying on defense and the run. Thankfully, I don't believe all the hype surrounding the decline of Peyton. Manning will dial it in. Manning will get it going. Manning and the Broncos will beat the Chiefs.
To look back on the recap article that is the basis of this look back, click here. You'll enjoy perusing the heated, yet respectful, debate throughout its 704 comments.