The Denver Broncos put together a complete game for the first time in over a year as they completely dominated the Houston Texans for most of the game. They finally took the foot off the gas in the second half up 38-3 and coasted to a 38-24 win.
If you simply look at the box score, the game looks more evenly matched at first glance. The Texans had more first downs and more total yards, but with a 3 to 1 turnover differential and a much better efficiency on third downs helped Denver jump out to that massive lead. The Texans moved the ball well on most of their drives, but were stopped short of scoring range early and often.
Given all of those big plays on both offense and defense, there were plenty of game ball type performances out there for us to choose from.
Drew Lock had himself the best rookie road start in NFL history, becoming the first rookie to finish with 300+ yards and three touchdown passes in his road debut. Even more importantly, Lock did his most important job as an NFL starting quarterback - picking up first downs on third down. The Broncos finished 5/8 on third downs, which has been a far cry compared to how the Broncos have done all year long. Through two games, Lock has guided the Broncos to a 12/23 conversion rate on third downs for a whooping 52.2% conversion rate through his first two starts. That is impressive. - Tim Lynch
Kareem Jackson had his best game for the Broncos. He picked a great game to do it, against his former team in Houston. There’s some pretty obvious plays to reference. His touchdown run after Attaochu handed off to him on a fumble recovery in the first quarter was a perfect highlight reel play. His interception during a tip drill play in the 4th quarter helped to stall a surging Texans offense. But what really stood out to me was the way he shut the door on guys. It was a Carlos Hyde 13 yard run that stuck in my mind. As Hyde approached, Jackson lowered his shoulder and the run ended where he stood. Hyde’s momentum stopped at the immovable force that is Kareem Jackson. He sets the tone, crushing opponents along the way. - Adam Malnati
With four catches for 113 yards and a touchdown, Noah Fant had himself a big game. More than that, all but one of those catches was contested and he won those battles and then turned it up field for some big gains.
However, his most impressive play was the one where he couldn’t have been more wide open. He sold the block inside so well that when he released there were no other defenders anywhere nearby to cover. Lock hit him for a massive gain at a critical moment of the game. - Tim Lynch
It’s going to get overlooked by Drew Lock’s insane road start, Kareem Jackson’s storybook homecoming, and Von Miller’s gritty performance, but Justin Simmons is quietly emerging as the Bronco’s best defensive player. The tip pick that went to Jackson was the third pass breakup he had today. He also held it down in deep coverage and was his usual self in run defense.
Elway needs to lock him down. - Joe Rowles
I want to vote for Von Miller just because his very presence meant the Texans had to pay attention to him even if he wasn’t the most effective guy out there. But I’m giving a game ball to another player who also was a little under the radar yesterday - Alexander Johnson. Johnson has been one of the most consistent defensive players ever since making it into the lineup in Week 5. And while he wasn’t the superstar yesterday, he was a big reason some other super stars could emerge, including forcing a fumble that Jeremiah Attaochu picked up and smartly handed off to Kareem Jackson who took it to the house. - Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann
Todd Davis was all over the field on defense against the Texans. He had a career fifteen total tackles with 5 solo and 10 assists. The Texans ran 75 plays, so Todd Davis was making the tackle on 20% of those plays. His previous career high was 13. It was also the first time where he had that 12 or more tackles in victory. Usually if he is making that many tackles we are losing the game. The Broncos are now 1-5 in games where he has 12 or more combined tackles. - Joe Mahoney
Attaochu had himself quite a day. The linebacker had two tackles, two sacks, one tackle for loss, a fumble recovery and a great decision to get the ball to Jackson as he was being tackled. At the very least, Attaochu should get an assist. Like Jackson, Attaochu was all over the field and came up big for the Broncos defense. - Ian St. Clair
My game ball goes to Rich Scangarello. Like Elway, the Broncos’ OC has gotten his share (and probably more than his share) of criticism this season. This week, he put on a showcase by scheming guys open again and again against the Texans and putting his rookie QB in a position to succeed. You don’t get completions to 10 different players, and 2 or more completions to 7 of those players, without the OC giving the opposing defense a wide array of looks and formations to deal with. Mix in a hearty dose of aggressiveness and that’s a fun day of football for anyone not tasked with stopping it. It wasn’t perfect, but there was a whole lot to like about the Broncos offense under Scangarello’s direction this weekend. - Taylor Koathe
My game ball goes to John Elway. The guy hasn’t gotten everything right but it appears that he may have found his long-term QB and if that’s the case, watch out NFL. The Duke has had two fantastic drafts in a row and looks to have hired a good coaching staff as well. We dogged on #7 for years -fairly- due to his inability to bring in a passer post Manning and now it’s time to give him the credit for bringing in a kid who has brought hope back to a franchise. - Kevin Gillikin