Good morning, Broncos Country!
Have an extra shot in your skinny latte this morning because the Broncos survived the Battle in the Bayou Sunday as they head into their bye week 7-3 and still in control of their playoffs destiny.
After the defense held the Saints to a punt following just one first down in its opening drive, the offense got off to its own stellar start with four first downs and a touchdown pass to rookie Jordan Taylor.
But an easy pick by Saints Sterling Moore as Trevor Siemian stared down Emmanuel Sanders on the left side gave Drew Brees 29 seconds to get some points.
And that’s what he did, driving 50 yards in five plays to put three points on the board just before halftime.
The Saints would score 17 unanswered points – two via touchdown passes to Willie Snead IV – in the third quarter before the Broncos offense would get fired up midway through the fourth. A fumble recovery by Darian "The Thief" Stewart would lead to a Demaryius Thomas touchdown, followed by two Brandon McManus field goals on the next two possessions.
With just under three minutes to play, Drew Brees went to work with a bunch of short runs complemented by two deep balls, resulting in a potentially game-winning touchdown, bringing the score to a tie before the point after.
But I said potentially game-winning.
It should have been a 24-23 win for the Saints. But after being embarrassed last week against the Raiders, this Broncos team brought some fight with it to the Superdome.
Rookie Justin Simms leapt nearly four feet to get over the Saints' long snapper and block the point after attempt while his counterpart Will Parks scooped up the ball and ran 75 yards for a measly two points.
No doubt there are a multitude of issues for this team to work out over the bye week - and maybe a few hard decisions on the offense - but I know you all will spend the entire two weeks dissecting every bad play, so I’m going to start your day off right and highlight my seven (of course) favorite top plays of the game:
#7: Devontae Booker sparks a run attack
The Broncos ran the ball 37 times on Sunday afternoon - compared to 40 pass attempts - a huge improvement in the "offensive balance" department. And the run game was rewarded as Devontae Booker tallied 76 yards on the ground and Kapri Bibbs added another 22.
#6. Andy Janovich has big impact
The legend of Jano will only keep growing as this guy’s presence in the offense always seems to make a difference. Whether it’s his blocking that gives the running backs a lane to be more successful or catching balls to move the chains, the Broncos’ fullback is no joke.
On Sunday, despite still nursing a broken hand, Jano had an amazing one-handed grab to get a much-needed first down while also preventing what could have been a devastating interception.
The FULLBACK! @AndyJanovich with a broken hand saves Siemian for a first down.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) November 13, 2016
#5. Jordan "Sunshine" Taylor gets his first NFL touchdown
With more first downs in its opening drive than in its first four drives last week, Trevor Siemian and Co. drove 85 yards in 13 plays and scored a touchdown c/o Jordan Taylor, who snagged his first NFL touchdown.
#4. Shaq Barrett marks the lone sack on Drew Brees
The pass rush was threatening all night but only once did the edge rushers take down Brees, and it came from Shaquil Barrett, whose only tackle on the night was the sack, but it was a big one, taking 10 yards off the line of scrimmage.
And the NASCAR package gets a sack -- Barrett with the sack. A three-and-out when the Broncos needed it most.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) November 13, 2016
#3. Darian Stewart logs two INTs, one fumble recovery
Stewart promised his daughter he’d give her a game ball if he got an interception. Since he got three takeaways - 2 INTs, 1 FR - it’s safe to say his one-year-old is going to have enough footballs to play with.
THE THIEF Darian Stewart.— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) November 13, 2016
He has 3 takeaways (2 INT, FR) vs Saints. pic.twitter.com/lC6Kiy3P4A
#2. Demaryius Thomas brings the heat all game
DT has taken heat the last season and a half for dropped passes and easy misses, but today he brought the heat with eight catches for 87 yards and a touchdown.
#1. Rookies block the PAT for the score/win!
This play should be listed in the playbook as the "Are you kidding me?" play because no matter how much you might practice it, to pull it off in a game is undoubtedly going to draw "are you kidding me?" comments from everywhere.
Are you kidding me???
Horse Tracks - docllv's pick of the day
Miles 'Rampage' Taylor shows Broncos' T.J. Ward who's 'Boss' - Mile High Report
I wrote this almost a year ago about a special young Broncos fan fighting for his life. He's still fighting, and so are the Broncos. It wouldn't kill us in BroncosCountry to get behind both of them.
Horse Tracks - Broncos win!
Denver Broncos' secondary provides sparks in thrilling victory over New Orleans Saints
Pretty? Hardly. But the Broncos eked out a 25-23 thriller against the Saints on the road, earning a critical victory before a bye.
Dean Blandino explains why no penalties on blocked PAT
Here's why no flags.
Darian Stewart soars to three takeaway game vs. New Orleans
Darian Stewart and the Broncos safeties made sure the team wouldn't return to Denver without a win.
Five Key Moments: Broncos stun Saints, 25-23
In a close battle all day, the Broncos shocked the Saints in a last-minute stunning victory full of incredible plays.
Denver Broncos return blocked PAT for dramatic win over the New Orleans Saints
The Denver Broncos stole the game from the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, blocking an extra point attempt as time was running out and returning it for two points and the win.
Demaryius Thomas brings in one-handed 17-yard catch
Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas brings in one-handed 17-yard catch.
Three Keys Unlocked: Broncos 25, Saints 23
A slew of big plays from the defense kept the Broncos in the game and helped defeat the Saints in New Orleans.
In or out? Broncos return blocked PAT for win - NFL.com
Every football Sunday comes with the promise of something different. A blocked extra point returned for a score to win a crucial game for the Denver Broncos is something different.
Questionable call, turnovers plague Saints as they fall to the Broncos - Canal Street Chronicles
The Saints had it, or did they? Once again, the team can’t punch through the .500 mark.
Not 'clear and obvious' that Denver Broncos' Will Parks out of bounds
Officials were correct in upholding the call, writes Kevin Seifert, who explains more on why the NFL has a high standard for overturning decisions.
Victory speech: Saints game
Head Coach Gary Kubiak addresses the team following the Broncos 25-23 victory over the Saints and gives out three game balls.
Horse Tracks - AFC West/NFL
Rivers' fourth-quarter interception spree sinks Chargers - NFL.com
Kiko Alonso returned a Philip Rivers interception for a 60-yard touchdown, propelling the Miami Dolphins a 31-24 victory over the San Diego Chargers in Week 10. Here's what we learned.
What we learned: Titans, Chiefs make statements - NFL.com
Marcus Mariota and the 5-5 Titans smashed Green Bay. Kansas City improved to 7-2, thanks to 20 unanswered points. And Broncos play both in coming weeks.
Elliott's late score sends Cowboys past Steelers - NFL.com
Ezekiel Elliott scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a last-second scamper, to propel the Dallas Cowboys past the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Week 10 thriller, 35-30.
Healthy Russell Wilson leads Seahawks past Patriots
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For several weeks now, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson insisted that the quarterback's health was improving.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans protests President-elect Donald Trump by sitting during national anthem
Bucs receiver Mike Evans protested President-elect Donald Trump by sitting during Sunday's national anthem.