Chris Harris Jr. snagged a pass from David Carr and returned it 74 yards for a touchdown. The Broncos overcame another poor start by Peyton Manning and still managed to win. They beat the upstart Raiders 16-10. The Denver Broncos are doing it without their main attraction. Quite simply, the Broncos defense is making a run for the Super Bowl.
The Broncos (5-0) are making waves with an energetic group of defenders that have swag. When the Broncos rode into O.co Coliseum Sunday, the crowd was probably expecting a shootout from the great Peyton Manning. What they got instead was 60 minutes of in-your-face, grind-it-out defensive punches from both teams. The battle was fought in the trenches, but the Broncos had the knockout blow.
With less than seven minutes to play, Broncos’ cornerback Chris Harris Jr. made things interesting. David Carr thought he saw an open player flash across the middle. Instead, he found the sticky hands of Harris Jr. Chris weaved through traffic, found the sideline, and cruised into the end zone, giving the Broncos the insurance score they needed.
The Raiders rallied with a late 50-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski and tried to use an onside kick. Denver recovered and put an end to any dreams of a comeback win.
Once again, the Denver Broncos’ defense was the key to victory. The scene has become familiar with Broncos Country. The win will come. Just wait for the defense to find its opportunity to steal the show. When Denver’s defense scored the icing touchdown, O.co Coliseum deflated. The quiet was deafening. The Broncos defense had upstaged their star quarterback again.
Peyton Manning is used to carrying the teams he’s played with. He’s the leader that brings a desire to win. But in his twilight years, he has struggled. Sunday, the Broncos’ quarterback was intercepted twice with no touchdowns. Manning went 22 for 35, with 266 yards. But throwing between the red zones doesn’t win games. The Broncos moved the ball on offense, but couldn’t seal the deal with touchdowns.
The Broncos and Raiders could have easily gone into overtime, without any heroics. Factor in a missed field goal by Janikowski and another that was blocked. The Denver defense looks even bigger.
The two interceptions thrown by Manning ended drives that could have put the game away. The first was an end zone snag by Charles Woodson. That score would have put the Broncos up 10-7 and taken the crowd out of the game. It could have been a statement drive for Denver and switched momentum in their favor.
The Broncos were driving again and needed insurance points. Manning threw a deep pass into what turned out to be double coverage. The Raiders’ Charles Woodson came up with the errant pass. Another statement drive squashed.
Manning expressed his frustrations in a statement reported by ESPN. The Hall of Fame quarterback didn’t have the answers.
“We want to play better offensively. We want to do our job. Somehow, some way it’s about getting the Denver Broncos a win. There’s no question offensively we want to play better… Everybody wants to do a better job and that starts with me.”
The Denver Broncos defense is underrated.
Denver is undefeated because the swag of their defense is so evident. The Broncos could easily be 0-5 at the worst. But week after week, the superheroes on the X-side of the equation come up huge. They end games with interceptions and forced fumbles.
The Broncos D is saying it loud and clear. They’re trying to bring a Super Bowl to the city of Denver. They are doing it in ways that teams aren’t expecting. The Broncos are snatching victory from the jaws of defeat and laying them at Manning’s feet.
[Photos by Ezra Shaw / Getty Images]