It was a game of extreme ups and downs, which is to be expected against a tough division rival like the San Diego Chargers, but the Denver Broncos emerged victorious to move to 6-2 and ready for a Sunday Night Football showdown with the equally 6-2 Oakland Raiders next week.
Here are the game balls each of us awarded for the Broncos 27-19 victory over the Chargers.
It takes a special kind of football player to be able to miss practice for an entire week, then suit up on Sunday and not miss a beat. Matt Paradis is just that - a special kind of football player. He is the rock of our shaky offensive line and I shudder to think what would happen if he weren't in there. So my game ball goes to Matt Paradis, for being an all-around badass. Chuck Norris is afraid of Matt Paradis. - Joe Mahoney
T.J. Ward was an absolute beast last night – getting sacks, interceptions, QB hits, and tackles all over the field. Chris Harris Jr. calls him “Taz” for the Tasmanian Devil, and it’s a fitting nickname. Ward’s sack was the first of four for the Broncos and was the first big defensive play of the game. For a unit that thrives off big plays and feeds off each other’s energy, Ward’s sack got the defense fired up early for a game that would be a dogfight to the end.
And No. 43 didn’t stop there. With an interception in the third quarter on San Diego’s 30, Ward ran it back to the 7-yard line, doing his best to set the offense up for a comfortable 24-7 lead (a fumble on the two would negate that, so perhaps Ward can just go ahead and score for the offense next time too). The defense stayed aggressive the entire game, pressuring Philip Rivers while also taking away his options downfield and tackling guys short of the down markers – and Ward was part of each of those, finishing with 7 solo tackles (10 total), 1 sack, 1 interception, 1 pass defensed, 2 QB hits and 1 tackle for a loss. #BossUp - Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann
4th & Goal. This is the entire game on this next play. Squander this, and rallying for Wade is for naught. DeMarcus gutting this game out with a cast on his arm is meaningless. All the turnovers and pick sixes, wiped out of existence in another heartbreaking defeat. But wait, there's more. In a game that saw players miss the game (Talib, Marshall, CJ Anderson) and players simply drop like flies throughout, we had hope. This is our house, our defense! We are more than the sum of the whole. Rivers still needed 1 more play, 1 more down. Rivers scans right, then left, slings it in to Hunter... IN-COM-PLETE!!!
STOPPED BY @Lorenzo_Doss! Denver's defense holds like only they can, stopping the Chargers 4 times in a row from Denver's 2 yard line!— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) October 30, 2016
Yes, Lorenzo Doss played a hell of a game. Did he give up a TD? Sure, but nobody, not Talib, not CHJ, not Revis, Sherman, or Peterson could have broken that up. Maybe the Buffalo Wild Wings sprinkler system operator could have, but that's it.
Lorenzo Doss made play after play, and no play bigger than the last play that Rivers touched the ball on our side of the field. We all knew Doss could cover, but we also knew he had a knack of drawing penalties. Well, last night, he was perfect. When we needed "other" players to step up, Doss took that mantra and put it squarely on his back and balled, and not only did he ball, he did it while not knowing if he'd even dress until hours before kickoff! That's absurd and makes his performance even more impressive! Who does that?! WE DO!!! Congrats Lorenzo Doss, you get a very well deserved gameball! - Pete Baron
The punting position is one that goes unheralded quite a bit in NFL football. Yes, everyone knows it is important, but "Ho-hum" is the order of the day when it comes to punting. In a big game like we had on Sunday against a division opponent, every yard matters. Riley Dixon showed off one hell of a leg late in the game pinned so deep in our territory that he didn't even have his normal room to work with to get his punt off. This rookie boomed a 68 yard punt to completely flip the field and keep the San Diego Chargers on their heels.
It was monstrous. It was the kind of punt that Britton Colquitt dreams of and absolutely worthy of my game ball. Great work, Riley! - Sadaraine
My game ball goes to Derek Wolfe. After rewatching the game, you can see he brutalized Rivers. Play after play, he was in his face. Rivers isn't a guy who plays fearful, but Wolfe got in his head. I believe it's why we had so many chances to pick him off.
We know the defense was looking to bat down his balls because they're delivered so low (like Osweiler), but waiting for Wolfe every play, made it worse. Even on run plays, Wolfe would make sure Rivers knew he was there. I don't know if it was by design or Derek did it on his own, but it was effective.
That is something we should store away for playing Brady*. Every play, be in his face, no matter the type. Wolfe never got a single flag, either, so he did it right. He was the bat in the belfry, always circling Rivers, never letting him have a peaceful moment. - Julie Dixon
Back in training camp I wrote that Roby is often times the forgotten man on the Broncos defense. For most teams, he’d be a top two cornerback. In Denver, he gets the crux of the blame if an opposing receiver makes a catch or there is any type of play made against the No Fly Zone. Roby showed how valuable he is to this team on Sunday when he made the play that swung the momentum to the Broncos. Roby did his best Aqib Talib impression with a 49-yard pick-six that broke the interception dam, but also helped Denver avoid an 0-2 start in the AFC West. - Ian St. Clair
My gameball goes to the inside linebacker group. With our best inside linebacker out, the guys behind him stepped up big time. Corey Nelson had 95% of the defensive snaps and filled in nicely. I saw good coverage and hustle in the run game as well. Todd Davis also made some plays in coverage, which has been a big weakness for him so far this year. Great to see our depth on defense really shine with one of our stars out. - Jeff Essary
Melvin Gordon is officially on my shit list, even if taking out our beloved Wade was unintentional. Nobody messes with our defensive mastermind's game plan, even when he is knocked unconscious. You see, Wade imparted his wisdom on Reggie Herring, the Broncos linebackers Coach. Herring took over the defensive play-calling after Melvin Gordon bulldozered over Wade Phillips, sending him to the hospital.
After the take down, Rivers threw 2 more interceptions, one was a pick 6. I would like to remind you that this secondary picked the chargers apart without Talib in the game. Herring knew the plan, executed it, and helped the defense lead the Broncos to a victory without any preparation to be the play caller. For that, he gets my game ball (as well as the actual game ball from Kubiak). - Kelly Fleming
Kubiak on Reggie Herring taking over #Broncos D: "I got on the headset couple times. He told me to shut the hell up and get off the headset"— Nick Groke (@nickgroke) October 31, 2016
Five catches for 79 yards may not seem like a huge day, but in this offense that is about as big as it gets for the wide receivers. Demaryius Thomas was effective in his role. He led the team in targets, which indicates that Trevor Siemian is getting more comfortable with his big target. He also snagged an amazing over the shoulder grab with the defender in his face. The catch set up the final field goal of the game. The points helped increase a precarious lead, and secure this must win game for Denver. It wasn't pretty, but it was effective. - Adam Malnati
Welcome back Demarcus Ware!
Seeing his first game action since September 18, Demarcus Ware made his impact felt. His numbers are not overwhelming, one pass deflection and one hit on OB Philip Rivers, but Demarcus was all over the field Sunday afternoon. Ware is still recovering from a fractured arm and is not at 100% saying after the game, "I think I just have to get used to doing a lot of my power moves again, getting my strength."
Ware's presence extends far beyond his play on the field. "He's a living legend for us and I'm truly blessed to have him on our team," said Von Miller. With Ware back, the Broncos should benefit from a leadership standpoint, something that has seemed to be lacking in his Demarcus' absence.
Expect to see even more pressure on opposing quarterbacks in the coming weeks as adding Ware back into the Broncos pass rush will force teams to spread out protections and allow more one-on-one match ups for the Broncos front seven.
It sure was nice to see no. 94 back out there Sunday afternoon. For his impact on and off the field Demarcus Ware gets a game ball. - Derek Ahrnsbrak
As I noted in the five things we learned post, having Virgil Green back was significant. Not only was he back, but he looked like that explosive tight end we saw earlier in the season. This 31-yard catch and run really put the game out of reach as the drive would result in a field goal.
Having Green making these kinds of plays is going to be important with a young quarterback like Siemian. Green only had four catches, but all of his catches came on drives that resulted in points. So he gets my game ball today. - Tim Lynch