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Texans 19, Broncos 17: Brandon McManus misses potential game winner

The Denver Broncos will host the Houston Texans in Week 9. Demaryius Thomas will be facing a team he just played a game for a week ago.

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NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos have fallen to 3-6 after Brandon McManus pushed a potential game winner wide at the buzzer to give the Houston Texans a 19-17 road win in Denver. It’s been that kind of year for the Broncos.

For the Broncos, they must get back to the drawing board and keep grinding. They are losing most of their games close. To consistently be on the verge of winning big games against playoff contenders has to be weighing on the coaches and players at this point. Fortunately for them, the schedule gets a little easier down the stretch.

First Quarter

Demaryius Thomas was honored to start the game and received a standing ovation from Broncos Country.

Thomas was there for the coin toss as well, called tails. It was heads and the Broncos elected to defer to the second half. Texans ball to start the game.

Lamar Miller took the first handoff eight yards, but Alfred Blue was stood up after just a one yard gain on second down. One third and one, the Texans went option where Deshaun Watson pitched it outside to Blue who was nearly stopped short.

Thomas took his first reception on a screen pass for 31 yards, then again to Thomas over the middle for an 18 yard gain. Thomas making the Broncos pay early and often for trading him to a team with a functional quarterback under center.

From the Broncos 15 yard line, Miller took one up the gut for two yards. Watson saw his receivers covered and took off up the middle for a six yard gain on second down. On third and two, Josey Jewell was burned by the tight end for the easy pitch and catch touchdown.

Texans 7, Broncos 0.

Phillip Lindsay was smothered for a one yard loss on the first play for the Broncos, but got a few yards back on the next carry to setup a third and nine. Keenum, from the shotgun, looked for Emmanuel Sanders, but had his ball deflected for the three and out.

On the Texans next possession, they kept the run game active, but Adam Gotsis was able to stuff Miller on first down for no gain. Watson had all day to throw on second down, but coverage was strong to force the throwaway. On third and 10, the Broncos defense pinned its ears back with Derek Wolfe picking up the huge sack to end the drive after Bradley Chubb forced him inside.

The punt went nowhere, but a 15-yard face mask penalty on Houston set the Broncos up with excellent field position at their own 49-yard line.

Keenum went play action, but was pressured immediately and threw the ball away. A draw to Lindsay went for only two yards to setup another third and long for Denver. From the shotgun, Keenum found Courtland Sutton who broke tackle after tackle for a 23-yard gain and a first down.

As usual, a penalty on the Broncos - this time a block in the back - pushed the Broncos back 10 yards. Keenum then went deep to Sutton in the end zone who made the catch, but the defender was able to knock the ball out of his hands for the incompletion.

On second and 20, a handoff to Lindsay went for two yards. On third and 18, a quick pass to Andy Janovich got some of those yards back to put them back into field goal range where Brandon McManus nailed a 44-yard field goal.

Texans 7, Broncos 3.

Thomas was wide open on a quick out for 12-yards on the first play on the Texans next drive.

DeAndre Hopkins got involved on the next set of downs, converting a third a long to get the Texans onto the Broncos side of the field. A holding call on Zach Kerr set the Broncos up at the 38-yard line.

After driving down inside the Broncos 30-yard line, an offensive holding call on the Texans pushed them back to the 35 for a first and 16. A quick toss out to Hopkins got six yards back to end the first quarter.

Second Quarter

The Texans face a second and 11 from the Broncos 28-yard line. The Broncos defense would hold firm to force a fourth and one. Arrogantly, the Texans felt they could smash mouth their way for a first down, but Chubb would not be denied to stop Blue for a one yard loss and a turnover on downs.

A quick toss outside to Sanders was immediately stopped by a sure tackle for a two-yard gain after a false start penalty. On second and 13, Keenum stayed in the shotgun and drew the Texans offsides to get fix of those yards back.

A great screen play was called that Booker was able to turn upfield for, but Booker inexplicably fumbled to give the Texans the ball at the Broncos 22-yard line.

Miller was stuffed for a 3-yard loss on first down. Jewell was in coverage on Hopkins on second down, which resulted in a quick 9-yard gain. Then Watson found Hopkins wide open in the end zone for another easy touchdown.

Fortunately, the Texans shanked the extra point.

Texans 13, Broncos 3.

Lindsay answered the call with a solid run up the middle for seven yards. He was stuffed on the next carry, then Keenum did a quick slant outside that was dropped by Jeff Heuerman for a quick three and out.

Chubb continues to be all over the place in this game as he mops up Lamar Miller for a two yard loss after Von Miller forced him another direction. Adam Jones continued to be fired up after the touchdown, breaking up a pass on Hopkins to force a third and long.

Watson, from the shotgun, dumped it off to a wide open Miller who gained 11 yards. They needed 12, so the Texans were forced to punt it away to River Cracraft who returned it to the Broncos 13-yard line.

On the very first play, Keenum found Matt LaCosse on the play action for a 40-yard gain into Texans territory.

Another play action pass to a tight end, this time to Heuerman, who broke tackles for a 14-yard gain to the Texans 28-yard line.

From there, another play action pass went to Sanders for 8-yards. However, an offsides penalty on the Texans was accepted instead for a free five yards.

Keenum continued his love for tight ends on this drive with a strike to Heuerman for a quick first down to the Texans 14-yard line. From the shotgun, Keenum handed off to Booker who broke outside for a touchdown run to get the Broncos right back into the game.

Texans 13, Broncos 10.

Watson couldn’t find the open receiver on first down, but was able to scramble for a three yard gain. A handoff to Miller up the middle went for six. On third and one from the shotgun, found Hopkins in front of Chris Harris Jr. for the sideline catch and a first down.

A seven yard run on first down by Blue, found the ball again on second down, but Jewel and Su’a Cravens converged to stop him for a one yard loss. On third and four, Watson from the empty set had issues from the snap where he was finally sacked by DeMarcus Walker to end the Texans drive.

On the ensuing punt, the Broncos were called for an illegal blindside block which pinned them back on their own 5-yard line. However, A quick toss outside to Heuerman went for 14-yards on another play action pass.

From the shotgun, Keenum hit Sanders outside for a nine-yard gain. Booker was blown up on an inside handoff for no gain on second down. An injury to a Texans defender allowed the Broncos preserve their timeout.

Lindsay was able to pick up the first down on a halfback dive up the middle. Keenum then hit Sanders over the middle for a first down who was also hit helmet to helmet, which resulted in a 15-yard personal foul.

Keenum threw an incompletion on the next play, but Matt Paradis went down with an injury. He would need to be carted off the field. Two plays later, the Broncos would bring McManus out for a 62-yard field goal attempt, but it drifted right with 18 seconds left.

Watson, from the Broncos 48-yard line, found his tight end for a 15-yard gain to put the Texans into field goal range. Another quick pass to Hopkins over the middle for 8-yards to setup a Ka’imi Fairbairn 46-yard field goal to end the half.

Fairbairn was iced on his first attempt (a miss), but nailed his second attempt. That is Vance Joseph.

Texans 16, Broncos 10.

Third Quarter

The Broncos got the ball first to start the second half down 16-10. It didn’t matter as, true to form, the Broncos went three and out immediately to start the second half.

After the Texans went three and out, the Broncos got the ball back and began to move the ball. After a short pass to Heuerman, Keenum found Sutton for a big gain down the field out near midfield. Keenum then left Lindsay out to dry who was absolutely destroyed on a catch out in the flat.

On second and 10, Keenum looked deep for Sanders, but the ball was well overthrown. Needing 10 yards, Keenum found Sutton at the sticks who turned it up field for a 14-yard gain.

Lindsay took a big shot three plays earlier, but took his next carry up the middle fighting through tacklers for a 12 yards down to the Texans 30-yard line. Garett Bolles reared his ugly penalty habit on the next snap with a false start.

Lindsay took a quick swing pass outside for a 12 yard gain, though, to get those yards back to make it a more manageable second and 3. Lindsay on the delay, powered his way to the first down marker for a first down.

From the Texans 20 yard line, Keenum went play action to under handed a pass to Lindsay as the pass rush got to him who turned it up field for an 12 yard gain and a first and goal.

The Broncos tried to roll Keenum outside, but the Texans read everything perfectly and was forced to throw it away. Lindsay had no where to run on the next play, losing four yards. On third and goal from the 12, Keenum threaded the needled to Heuerman between two defenders for the touchdown and the first lead of the day for the Broncos.

Broncos 17, Texans 16.

Tramaine Brock continued to struggle in coverage as he has all season, letting Hopkins to get free for a big gain early in the Broncos next drive. The Texans quickly found themselves across midfield on this drive.

After a short run from Miller, Watson went to shotgun and Von Miller streaked around the right tackle for his first sack of the game.

On third and 12, Watson was forced to call a timeout as the play clock was running down. When they finally ran a play, Watson was pressured again and escaped for a six yard gain. A defensive holding penalty, spotted the Texans a first down.

From the Broncos 32 yard line, Watson handed off to Blue for a two yard loss. Watson then tossed it quick outside to Hopkins who exploded through the crease for a 17-yard gain.

One play later, the quarter would end with the Texans at the Broncos 15-yard line.

Fourth Quarter

The Texans started the fourth quarter from the Broncos 15-yard line.

Todd Davis broke up a pass over the middle to the tight end on second down. On third and nine, Watson was sacked by Bradley Chubb to force the field goal attempt.

Texans 19, Broncos 17.

Keenum, on first down, handed off to Lindsay for a three yard gain. Another hand off to Lindsay went for another two yards. Then on third and five, Keenum was obliterated for the sack and the three and out.

Colby Wadman boomed a 59-yard punt to flip field position for Denver.

After stuffing Miller for a short loss, Watson found Hopkins for a nice gain on second down. On third and four, confusion set in between Watson and Demaryius Thomas led to a poor play sequence and an offensive holding call on Houston. The penalty was declined and the Texans were forced to punt.

Keenum was under pressure on first down, but got the ball off to Heuerman for a couple of yards. Sanders got into the mix on the next throw, which resulted in a first down and a 10-yard gain. The Broncos went back to the ground with a pitch outside to Lindsay who streaked downfield for 22-yards into Texans territory at their 40-yard line.

After a throwaway by Keenum, he danced around in the pocket long enough for J.J. Watt to bring him down for the sack. On third and 17, Keenum airmailed a ball to Tim Patrick that floated just long enough for defenders to get there for the pass breakup.

A holding penalty on the Texans pinned them back on first down from their own five yard line, but Watson escaped a safety dumping the ball off to Miller who turned it up field for a 16-yard gain and a first down.

Alfred Blue punched it up the middle on the next play for five yards. Then Watson, from the shotgun, handed off to Miller who took it up the middle for a nine yard gain and another first down.

The Texans kept it on the ground the next two plays, both runs gaining two and a half yards a piece. With 3:45 left in the game, the Broncos used their first timeout hoping to get a defensive stop on third down.

On third and 5, Demaryius Thomas jumped early to force the Texans back five yards. From there, Watson took the shotgun snap and fired to Hopkins who looked open, but Adam Jones was able to break up the pass at the sticks to force a punt.

From their own 14 yard line, Lindsay broke through a tackle attempt by Watt to surge forward for a six yard gain on first down. Bill Musgrave decided to get cute on second down and it predictably ended in a throwaway.

On third and four, Keenum hit Heuerman in the flat who had to make a man miss in order to gain the first down out to the 31 yard line.

After an incompletion, Keenum found Booker who gained eight yards. A quick inside handoff before the two minute morning netted one yard setting up a game-deciding fourth down play on the other side of the two minute warning.

A play action fake had Heuerman open for the easy pitch and catch for Keenum and a first down.

A false start by Jared Veldheer set them back on the next set of downs. On first and 15, Keenum was nearly sacked. He completed a pass to LaCosse, but a holding penalty on Max Garcia pushed them back another 10 yards.

On first and 25, they gained 17 of it back on a completion to Tim Patrick. With a minute to go, Keenum then looked for Sanders outside, but it was incomplete. Keenum, from the shotgun, looked for Sanders over the middle where the ball was batted down.

On fourth and eight, Keenum was hit as he threw the ball, but it hit Sanders over the middle for the first down into field goal range.

Keenum, from the shotgun again, hit Heuerman on a crossing route for a five yard gain on first down. Keenum then handed off to Lindsay for no gain to setup the 51-yard field goal attempt.

McManus would push it wide.


The Broncos will be without running back Royce Freeman, safety Darian Stewart, cornerback Bradley Roby, inside linebacker Brandon Marshall, wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton, guards Sam Jones and Nico Falah.

Meanwhile, the Texans will be missing wide receiver Keke Coutee, cornerback Aaron Colvin, cornerback Johnathan Joseph, safety Andre Hall, cornerback Deante Burton, inside linebacker Zach Cunningham, and defensive end Joel Heath.

Game Preview

The Denver Broncos (3-5) are looking to get back into the AFC mix with a win at home over the Houston Texans (5-3), but they’ll have to do it without long-time Bronco wide receiver Demaryius Thomas who was traded to Houston last week.

Thomas will be honored by the Broncos before the game and then will have to keep him from making Denver pay for the trade.

Aside from that storyline, the game will likely be decided by the Broncos offensive line facing a strong Texans defensive line. The winner of that battle will likely decide the outcome.

Here is how to watch.

TV Schedule

When: Sunday, November 4, 2018 at 2:05 p.m. Mile High time

Where: Broncos Stadium at Mile High in Denver, Colorado

Channel: CBS / Channel 20

Announcers: Tom McCarthy (play-by-play) and Steve Beuerlein (analyst)

Radio: KOA - 850 AM | 94.1 FM & The Fox - 103.5 FM | Spanish Radio KNVR 1150 AM

Online Streaming

NFL Sunday Ticket

NFL Game Pass


Denver Broncos injury report

Player Pos. Injury Wednesday Thursday Friday Game Status
Player Pos. Injury Wednesday Thursday Friday Game Status
DaeSean Hamilton WR Knee DNP DNP DNP OUT
Brandon Marshall ILB Knee DNP DNP DNP OUT
Bradley Roby CB Ankle DNP DNP DNP OUT
Darian Stewart S Neck DNP DNP DNP OUT
Isaiah McKenzie WR Hip FULL FULL FULL
Domata Peko Sr. NT/NIR Elbow FULL DNP FULL

Houston Texans injury report

Player Pos. Injury Wednesday Thursday Friday Game Status
Player Pos. Injury Wednesday Thursday Friday Game Status
Zach Cunningham LB Knee DNP DNP DNP Out
Shareece Wright CB Hand / Groin LIMITED LIMITED LIMITED
Ryan Griffin TE Illness FULL FULL FULL
Peter Kalambayi LB Concussion FULL FULL FULL
Brennan Scarlett LB Groin FULL FULL FULL
Deshaun Watson QB Chest FULL FULL FULL


The Broncos opened slight favorites against the Texans, but the line has slowly shifted all week and now stands with the Texans one-point road favorites against the Broncos in Week 9.

Matchup History

The Broncos are 4-2 all-time against the Texans, with the most exhilarating win being the first with Tim Tebow under center. In that game, Tebow led a fourth quarter comeback to score the decisive touchdown in the 2010 season to get the Broncos their fourth win of the year.

MHR Radio

Ian St. Clair and Adam Malnati had a lot to cover this week on MHR Radio with the Thomas trade and the Texans game coming up fast.

Social Media Information

MHR Facebook Page: Mile High Report: A Denver Broncos Blog

MHR Twitter: Follow @MileHighReport

MHR Instagram: Follow @MileHighReport

Denver Broncos Fan Group: Denver Broncos Football

Broncos Regular Season Schedule 2018

Wk Date Opponent Time (MT) TV
Wk Date Opponent Time (MT) TV
1 Sep 9 vs Seattle Seahawks W 27-24 FOX
2 Sep 16 vs Oakland Raiders W 20-19 CBS
3 Sep 23 at Baltimore Ravens L 27-14 CBS
4 Oct 1 vs Kansas City Chiefs (MNF) L 27-23 ESPN
5 Oct. 7 at New York Jets L 34-16 CBS
6 Oct 14 vs Los Angeles Rams L 23-20 FOX
7 Oct 18 at Arizona Cardinals (TNF) W 45-10 FOX
8 Oct 28 at Kansas City Chiefs L 30-23 CBS
9 Nov 4 vs Houston Texans L 19-17 CBS
10 Nov 11 BYE
11 Nov 18 at Los Angeles Chargers W 23-22 CBS
12 Nov 25 vs Pittsburgh Steelers W 24-17 CBS
13 Dec 2 at Cincinnati Bengals W 24-10 CBS
14 Dec 9 at San Francisco 49ers L 20-14 CBS
15 Dec 15 vs Cleveland Browns L 17-16 NFLN
16 Dec 24 at Oakland Raiders (MNF) L 27-14 ESPN
17 Dec 30 vs Los Angeles Chargers 2:25 PM CBS