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Broncos’ gutsy win begins, ends with offensive line

Mention of offensive linemen is usually due to mistakes and penalties. But on Sunday it was thanks to the o-line, the offense had a big day.

Detroit Lions v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The Broncos’ 27-17 win over the Lions came with several fun facts:

Phillip Lindsay hit his second 100-yard game on the season (catapulting himself ever closer to a 1,000-yard season with 958 so far).

The offense scored more than 25 points for the second time this season (both under quarterback Drew Lock).

The run-pass ratio was in total balance - 33 running plays to 34 passing.

Drew Lock suffered zero sacks and the rushing attack tallied a total of 150 yards.

Lock’s 1 TD / 0 INT performance was good for a 99.6 passer rating.

The Broncos’ offense was on the field 36 minutes, compared to the Lions’ 23.

After the game, former Broncos tackle Ryan Harris knew exactly where to give credit - offensive line coach Mike Munchak.

Coach Fangio even gave not one but two game balls to offensive linemen. Patrick Morris, who joined the team just weeks ago, and Jake Rodgers, who played in his first real NFL game, came in to relieve an ill Dalton Risner and an injured Elijah Wilkinson, who was already playing backup for Ja’Wuan James.

It was truly “the replacements” - playing the only five remaining healthy linemen on the team - and it made sure the offense didn’t skip a beat.

For an indication on how good it was, when Fangio was asked about how he thought the quarterback played, the coach started off complimenting the offensive line.

“It was kind of ironic that we started moving the ball when we had to put the two offensive linemen in — Morris and Rodgers,” Fangio said, adding that it’s hard to see “how the line plays” during the game, but given the outcome, it had to be decent. “For the way we moved the ball, those guys must have played very well. We ran our offense. We didn’t have to make any makeshift adjustments because of those two guys being in there. Our credit has to go to those two guys.”

And the offensive line’s play was not lost on any of the star play-makers in the game, either.

Especially the quarterback.

“I thought they played their butts off. You look at it, new o-line in there, you don’t think we are going to run,” Lock said. “It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious there, and we ended up being able to pound the ball with those new guys in there. They did an awesome job.”

Lindsay, who had another career day on his way to a career season, highlighted the line’s play when talking about his QB’s performance. They go “hand-in-hand” as the running back pointed out.

“We all knew that [Lock] was special. Every game and every practice that you’re in, you start to get more confidence in him, and he gets more confidence in us. He has to trust us,” Lindsay sad, adding the trust is all important. “Our offensive line’s doing a great job. People don’t understand how great of a job they’re doing protecting him. He’s helping out be being able to maneuver a little bit, so I think everything goes hand in hand.”

And along with an o-line playing well, a quarterback unafraid to take shots downfield but also able to read the zone defense the Lions threw at the Broncos’ offense, Rich Scangarello dialed up some serious trickery for Lock and his boys.

“[Scangarello] is not holding back. I know he has supreme confidence in the guys he’s got out there and just the vibe of the game. What is there to hold back? Why hold back?” Lock said, stating the obvious but also the awesome. “These are our last two games. We can’t make it to the playoffs, let’s have some momentum going into the offseason. If we don’t go for it on the fourth-and-one, we walk off to a chorus of boos and whatnot. That’s not the feeling we wanted to have, and we left it all out there.”

Even a defensive end got it.

Shelby Harris was asked about the defensive performance that sacked the QB four times and kept the Lions to under 100 yards rushing and just 17 points, and his first comment was to compliment the offense.

“Honestly, I feel like this defensive performance really had a lot to do with our offense. The offense was out there holding drives and scoring,” Harris said, highlighting the opportunity to rest and then be able to perform.

And then Harris pointed out just why that offense was so effective.

“Honestly, I just want to commend the offensive line. Everyone was getting hurt, so different guys were plugged in,” he added. “Jake Rogers got his first game reps today, so I’m happy for him. This is what a team is, though. You plug people in, and they just have to go do their job.”

Perhaps the one name missing from all the accolades after yesterday’s win is the guy truly responsible for what the o-line was able to do - OL coach Mike Munchak.