Denver Wins in Epic Fashion on Two Last-Second Scores


It looked like the Denver Broncos were down and out. Struggling all game on offense, they had to make a last-minute drive to score and push the game into overtime. It’s something Peyton Manning has done many times, but he hadn’t looked like that Peyton Manning all night.

Until that drive.

He still missed a couple of throws he usually would have hit, but he absolutely came alive. So did Demaryius Thomas, looking like a $70M wideout with some of the catches he made, just going up to get passes no matter how close the defenders were. Then Emmanuel Sanders, a force on third down all night, stutter stepped and ran a post, catching the ball for the tying score.

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Broncos Country exploded. Overtime. The game was going to overtime.

Then the Chiefs decided to run out the clock. Jamaal Charles took the handoff, and Brandon Marshall punched it right back out. Bradley Roby was all over it, snatching the ball off the turf and running it in.

Stunned silence in Arrowhead. Seconds before, they were about to beat the Broncos for the first time with Peyton Manning. They had them on the ropes.

Then the wheels came off in epic fashion, the score flipped, and a Chiefs team that had led all night long watched the win slip away.

Let’s be honest here: That was some luck. The Broncos were outplayed in a lot of ways. It’s not all luck; the defense was tremendous and forced turnovers all game long. It’s an aggressive defense that dictates the game. It’s what fans have wanted to see on that side of the ball for years, and it’s beautiful to watch.

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But Denver forced five turnovers, and only gave the ball away once. Winning the turnover battle like that should almost guarantee a victory, and they were seconds away from a loss. It’s a great, thrilling win, but don’t forget just how close it was to a loss.

The nice thing is that Denver’s offense did look a bit better when it counted. Not good enough, but better.

They still have to work on getting the run game going, but they’ve faced two very good defenses in the opening weeks. If the run game gets shut down like this by everyone, that’s huge cause for concern.

But don’t forget the way the offense looked at the start of 2012. It had some really bad performances—Atlanta, anyone?—that were eventually forgotten when they won 10 games in a row to end the year. It’s still pretty early, and the offense can only improve.