What a win for the Denver Broncos. In recent weeks, they had kept their win streak alive by the skin of their teeth winning their last two games by a combined three points. Against the Cleveland Browns, however, they slammed the door on a potential comeback and won in decisive fashion.
Now at 6-5, the Broncos are in a three-way tie for that seventh seed in the AFC and have an opportunity to take it outright with a win over the Houston Texans next week and a little help from the Los Angeles Rams too. But enough of next week, here are our game balls for the Broncos fifth-straight win.
There was no doubt that the return of P.J. Locke to the lineup was critical for the Broncos defense with Kareem Jackson serving the first of a four-game suspension. Locke delivered from the very first drive until the last and was a huge part of a Broncos defense that created three more turnovers and a safety. The turnaround of the Broncos’ defense is almost as fun as the turnaround of the Broncos’ season. - Tim Lynch
P.J. Locke with a huge strip sack and it's Broncos ball up 12 late in the 4th quarter pic.twitter.com/7cu7nOh0Jh— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) November 26, 2023
D.J. Jones gets my game ball as he made in my estimation the play of the game by wrecking an end-around play to turn the ball over for the Broncos. It was the beginning of the end for the Browns and completely swung the momentum Denver’s way. It was impressive to see such a beast of a man show so much athleticism to quickly get in the backfield and have the awareness and reflexes necessary to secure the turnover. - Sadaraine
D.J. Jones recovers a fumble after a terrible roughing the passer call.pic.twitter.com/LftS7VVjK8— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) November 26, 2023
Courtland Sutton continues to play like a grown man amongst kids. Two awful calls aside, he did everything he could to pull this team to a win — which he has all season. All the preseason talk that Juedy would be WR1 seems laughable now. All Sutton does is make catch after catch — catches that nobody else could make. - Mike DeCicco
The man deserves credit. We were all calling him to be fired after the Miami game, and rightfully so at the time, but since then, he has done a marvelous job with this defense. Is the unit perfect? No, but they’re a turnover creating machine and make key stops when needed. In this one, we saw three turnovers, four sacks, a safety, and held the Browns rushing game mostly in check. Joseph earned my game ball and we all still owe him an apology. - Scotty Payne
Sean Payton gets me game ball for deciding to run right at the best defense in the league (by points allowed). If you remove the the four kneel downs, the Broncos ran the ball 35 times for 173 yards (5.0 YPC). This makes a lot of sense because the Browns came into the game with best pass defense in the league as well allowing a passer rating of 71.6. The Broncos ran for a season high in yards and did enough on defense to frustrate the Browns rookie QB.
Payton has this team believing they can win and that is a tremendous feat after seven years of missing the playoffs that built a culture of losing in Denver. He did this after the team started 1-5 with a defense that played one of the worst games in NFL history. For this he deserves a game-ball and if the Broncos do end up making the playoffs he might get a nod for coach of the year. - Joe Mahoney
Every week it seems Russell Wilson gives us a couple plays that remind us why we were all so excited when the Broncos acquired him last year. He took control of the game early, and led the team to three offensive touchdowns. The Broncos QB wasn’t perfect, but he was damn good. On the team’s second scoring drive he used both his legs and his arm, rushing the ball when needed, and scoring on a two yard rush.
He continued his connection with Courtland Sutton, who had another great game. Wilson’s touchdown pass to Adam Trautman was vintage Wilson. He scrambled, kept the play alive, and then put the ball where only Trautman could catch it. And what a catch it was. The stats don’t jump out at you, but Wilson has been exactly what he needs to be for the Broncos to win. - Adam Malnati
My game ball goes to Garett Bolles, both for the Browns game and for his performance across the season. The former University of Utah offensive tackle has taken a lot of flack from the fanbase for penalties over the years, often with good reason. But he’s quietly turning in the best season of his career, as Andrew Mason pointed out:
Garett Bolles’ holding calls, year by year:— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) November 27, 2023
2017: One every 1.6 games
2018: One every 1.78 games
2019: One every 1.23 games
2020: One every 3.75 games
2021: One every 2.33 games
2022: One every 1.67 games
2023: ONE EVERY 5.5 GAMES
Bolles is playing the best ball of his career.
From an average of roughly a holding call once every 2 games over the previous six years, Bolles has cut that rate down to just over a third as often. Hell yeah, man. And it doesn’t get much better for an offensive tackle than coming away from a contest against Myles Garrett & company with a clear win. Bolles is doing some great work this year, and in the process he’s pulling himself out of the potential cap casualty list and clawing his way toward a solid spot on the Broncos’ list of core players to build around in the Sean Payton era. - Taylor Kothe
Samaje Perine didn’t have the most rushing yards in Sunday’s game, but he had some of the most significant - again. Plodding away in the Broncos’ rushing attack, he’d get three yards here, six yards there, then a 15-yard run and a 25-yard run... He just keeps running downhill, breaking tackles and finding room to run. He’s also a great safety net for Russell Wilson in the passing game. Nothing flashy but a lot of important yards in a gameplan designed to wear down the NFL’s No. 1 defense. And a TD to boot. You can’t ask for more. - Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann
The Broncos offensive line has gone from a trouble spot to one of the best in the NFL. This unit just manhandled the best defense in the NFL and held the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year without a sack. To rush for 169 yards on 39 carries is remarkable and because of the guys up front. What a showing by Garett Bolles and the Broncos offensive line. - Ian St. Clair