As the old adage goes in the NFL: A win is a win.
Regardless of how fortunate and ugly it is, you always take the win and never think twice about it. At this point in the season, the Denver Broncos should take a deep breath and get on the plane back to the Mile High City thankful to improve to 7-3 after the 25-23 victory.
Had the Broncos lost this game, which for a brief time seemed inevitable after an incredible touchdown pass from Drew Brees to Brandin Cooks with a little over a minute left ... well, we won’t talk about that just yet. There’s no need to given Denver found a way to get the win and keep the sinking ship afloat a week longer.
The only reason the Broncos did is because of the defense. That amazing, remarkable, special defense. This is what we’re accustomed to from this unit, and if the team continues to win games, it will be because of the defense.
If you want to put a face on this game versus the New Orleans Saints, it’s Darian Stewart. The Denver safety had his hands in on three turnovers. It was apparent John Elway must re-sign Stewart before Sunday, but he just slammed the door shut and removed all doubt. Stewart is the most under-appreciated aspect of the defense and he needs to get an extension. Now.
.@darianstewart26 is balling out down here in NOLA!#BeatTheSaints » https://t.co/TZOaXv4ERm pic.twitter.com/YjmAjIX0ut— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) November 13, 2016
Bradley Roby didn’t allow his poor performance against the Oakland Raiders to extend to two games and played much better against the Saints. Major kudos to the young cornerback for being able to do that. It’s a great sign for Roby at this point in his young career.
The other big takeaway (see what I did there?) is the Broncos didn’t allow much on the ground. The defense only gave up 80 yards rushing to New Orleans. That is a major win for the Denver defense when you consider how it struggled the last few weeks stopping the run. Another positive is the fact the Broncos didn’t abandon the run. Denver finished with 103 yards on the ground off of 37 carries.
One also would be remiss to ignore the effort of Demaryius Thomas. The receiver had by far his best game of the season and stepped up in a major way. He showed how valuable he is to this team by playing with the fire and passion this offense direly needed. In the process, hopefully his hushed his critics.
Broncos WR @DemaryiusT with his 56th receiving TD since 2011 (reg season and playoffs). No NFL WR has more over that time.— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) November 13, 2016
If the Broncos are to remain in the hunt, this is how they will do it: run the ball and stop the run. Add in the special teams making plays, as Justin Simmons did on the blocked extra point, and Denver improves its chances.
Again, the team takes the win and it doesn’t think twice and everyone feels good about the win, but ...
It still took four turnovers and a blocked extra point returned for two, against one of the worst – if not the worst – defenses in the NFL for the Broncos to win. Not to splash cold water on folks, but that’s the storyline here because it doesn’t get any easier the last six games.
Let’s not pretend all is right with the world because of a fluke win. A lot has to get better and there’s not a lot of room for error when you look at the tough AFC West.
GOT. IT. DONE! pic.twitter.com/4eenr3BfDO— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) November 13, 2016
Most importantly, Denver finally gets its bye. And to get a week off feels a heck of a lot better when you get a win. This much-needed bye allows the players to get a skosh healthier, for all involved to clear their minds and get re-focused. Keep in mind the Broncos defense was able to do what it did against New Orleans down Aqib Talib and Derek Wolfe. Both of them should be able to return Nov. 27 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
How big is that game at this point?
For now, Denver needs to get away from football. Take a deep breath, enjoy the flight back to the Mile High City, savor the win and thank whomever you need for this outcome.