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Third and Long: Broncos’ run D made big strides

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Broncos were particularly good at limiting Lamar Miller on first-down runs.

NFL: Houston Texans at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Broncos did a good job Sunday of keeping the run-heavy Texans to minimal gains on first-down runs.

The Texans ran the ball 18 times on first down for 42 yards (2.33 ypc) and 11 of that came on Deshaun Watson scrambles. Broncos were tremendous at limiting Lamar Miller on first down runs. He carried the ball 10 times for a total of eight yards on first downs. With this performance, the Broncos’ run D moved up to 27th at stopping the run on first down, which is significant given that Broncos were dead last after the game against the Rams.

Broncos are one of the better teams in the league at not allowing another first down run after a first down, allowing only 11.9 percent of runs on first down to gain a first down. That is fifth best in the league. For comparison, Cleveland allows 27.3 percent of first down runs to gain another first down.

Broncos also forced Houston into seven third-and-long situations. The only conversion Broncos allowed was on the holding penalty from Su’a Cravens. Overall Broncos held the Texans to 5 of 14 on third-down conversions, including the conversion by penalty.

Quarter Time Down ToGo Location Detail Result
1 8:37 3 10 HTX 31 Deshaun Watson sacked by Derek Wolfe for -9 yards sack
2 14:19 3 9 DEN 27 Deshaun Watson left end for 8 yards (tackle by Todd Davis) run but short
2 8:56 3 12 HTX 28 Deshaun Watson pass complete short right to Lamar Miller for 11 yards (tackle by Su'a Cravens) catch but short
3 12:44 3 11 HTX 22 Deshaun Watson middle for 8 yards (tackle by Derek Wolfe) run but short
3 2:36 3 11 DEN 42 Deshaun Watson left end for 5 yards (tackle by Shaquil Barrett). Penalty on Su'a Cravens: Defensive Holding, 5 yards conversion by penalty
4 14:56 3 9 DEN 16 Deshaun Watson sacked by Bradley Chubb for -3 yards sack
4 3:45 3 10 HTX 35 Deshaun Watson pass incomplete short right intended for DeAndre Hopkins (defended by Adam Jones) incomplete

For the season Broncos are now allowing conversion on 29.5 percent of third-and-longs - which is 26th in the league. The Vikings are still No. 1, allowing conversion on only 13.8 percent of third-and-long situations.