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A tough homecoming for Oz was always how this Broncos game was going to be

Since the schedule was announced in the spring with this matchup, the Broncos have been planning a tough night for Brock Osweiler. And he got one.

Houston Texans v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Brock Osweiler’s Mile High homecoming was not pretty.

But it was never going to be.

The day the league released the 2016 team schedules, many Broncos mentally drew a circle around a few games in particular. The Week 7 matchup against their former teammate was definitely one of them.

But when that same game became the one that the entire Broncos team – from offense to defense to coaching – needed to prove they were "who we thought they were," then the former backup-turned-starter-turned-backup Broncos quarterback never stood a chance.

The defense came hard and fast, proving that it can indeed play aggressive from the sound of the gun – despite all evidence to the contrary the past six games – and it never let up.

"That was a point of emphasis all week, to start fast and we did that today," said Chris Harris Jr., noting that coach Gary Kubiak had faith in the defense to set the tone, so the Broncos deferred and sent Osweiler a quick memo – don’t even think about it.

Poor Osweiler had to face a Broncos defense with its back against the wall and something to prove.

"It was huge," said linebacker Todd Davis. "I felt like losing two in a row, you start looking around and people start asking questions. To lose three in a row, we just could not have that happen. We just had to go back to playing our game and get back on the right track."

And get on the right track they did.

The defense never allowed a touchdown, created three three-and-outs (a fourth drive ended on the third play with a fumble), held Osweiler to 131 passing yards (including just 58 combined yards to the Texans’ top receivers Andre Hopkins and Will Fuller), and contained Lamar Miller to 61 yards.

The defense also came away with one team sack for Osweiler’s "forward pass fumble" phenomenon plus two recoveries on two forced fumbles.

"Being able to have a complete game like this today, getting a turnover and not giving up any touchdowns. Getting that stop on the first down [was crucial]," said Harris Jr. "We knew that if we could come out strong on the first drive and get a stop, then we’d be back to normal."

It was to no one’s surprise that Von Miller drew no holding calls all night, but it was a bit of a surprise that the edge rusher ended his six-game streak of completing at least one sack. The linebacker was not phased by this in the least.

"There was a sack streak? I wasn’t paying attention to it. My bad, guys," Miller joked. "I’m all about wins. I’ll take a win any day. Sacks are great, that’s what I do. That’s my job. I wasn’t able to get it done today, but we got the win, so that’s even better."

No doubt Osweiler is thankful there weren’t any sacks as he ran for his life every time No. 58 came his way – or just looked at him.

Miller even joked with Osweiler that he should have given his old teammate at least one.

"There was one play where I spun around and came on the side. He could’ve just laid down and taken a sack, but he didn’t," Miller laughed. "I said ‘Man, why didn’t you lay down and just take a sack’, and he said he saw me every time I came around."

Davis mentioned to Oz when he missed him on a blitz that he was coming for him.

"I almost got to him, and I told him that I was coming for him next time, but it was all love. It was all love," Davis said.

Love perhaps, but mercy? Never.

"We had to welcome Brock back the right way, and I thought we did that defensively," said Darian Stewart who recovered a fumble by running back Alfred Blue. "I thought we came out and were the more physical team."

Miller (of the Von variety) said holding the Texans – and any team – to three-and-out was and is the goal.

"The last two weeks we let the team go down on the first possession and score. There was a big emphasis for us to get a three-and-out," Miller said. "That’s what we want to do. We want to give our offense a short field and let them do their thing."

And thankfully the offense responded in kind. An ugly first quarter gave way to a beautiful second quarter in which an amnesia-induced offense forgot about its dropped passes, poorly timed penalties and recently poor running game, and stormed 75 yards in 10 plays to put points on the board. Touchdown points.

The defense was happy to see it.

"You’ve got to be happy when your offense can run the ball and just eat up time on the clock. Plus, turning those into points is more important," said Derek Wolfe, who had a big night stopping the Texans up the middle but also getting after Oz and even knocking down a pass. "Taking time away, eating up the clock and scoring points, that’s all you can ask for."

Emmanuel Sanders was just one of many guys on the offense happy to oblige their Broncos defenders.

Following that rough first quarter, the wide receiver told the offensive line to dig deep.

"I just remember talking to the offensive line and telling them, ‘hey look, we are in a bar fight right now and we have to go to war.’ That was a physical game," Sanders said, noting his cuts and bruises. "But that’s the type of ball that we play. That’s Broncos football."

Sanders’ counterpart pointed out that No. 10’s speech was followed by a big catch from the receiver, who had just four catches on eight targets but for a sweet 86 yards, including a 31-yarder nearly into the end zone.

Suddenly, the offense started clicking.

"It was the talk in the huddle. [Emmanuel] just said, ‘Go out there and fight like it’s your last. Act like we’re in a dog fight.’ And then, next thing you know, he comes up and makes a play," Demaryius Thomas said, giving No. 10 credit for getting the running game started. "We’ve got to get our running game started and stuff starts to open up for the passes."

The running game – which hadn’t passed the 100-yard mark in the previous two games – doubled its previous production and accounted for two scores.

Though C.J. Anderson came away with his first 100-yard game of the season – top rusher on the team Monday night – it was rookie Devontae Booker that showed the initial rushing spark and made linebackers left and right pay when they tried to bring him down.

"Absolutely, we did complement each other well tonight," the rookie running back said of the 1-2 punch with Anderson. "Him going in there and running hard, then I come in as a change-of-pace and run hard again. It’s just breaking the defense down. We’re going to just run them down."

Quarterback Trevor Siemian paid his dues to the offensive line and running backs who made his life much easier this week.

"I think we said all along that we need balance in this league to have success and keep defenses on their toes," said Siemian, who passed for just 157 yards but also one TD to Thomas. "The guys up front did a heck of a job and I can’t say enough about what the two backs did."

The unsung hero in the running game was, of course, fellow rookie Andy Janovich. The fullback told Mile High Report a few weeks ago that he doesn’t look at his success by his own stats but rather by those of Anderson and Booker.

Given that the two running backs combined for nearly 200 yards and two touchdowns, Janovich has to be pleased with "his numbers."

Kubiak certainly is, saying Jano "played really, really well tonight."

The coach knows there’s still a lot to clean up on offense – such as several ugly three-and-out series in the first and third quarters – but the offense is on the right track and the defense is back on track.

Now it’s just staying there and moving forward.

"After the two losses, you could kind of feel the aura of the team kind of going down," Ward noted. "We had great preparation this week, came in and played how we prepared. So we’re back up."

And that’s how it was always going to be.