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BSN Exclusive: How do you stop an offense as potent as Kansas City's? One Bronco knows

Ryan Koenigsberg Avatar
September 27, 2018

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — 39 to 21. 38 to 22.

File those very-similar numbers away because we’re going to come back to them.

First, let’s take a trip down memory lane with some other numbers: 49, 41, 37, 52, 51, 35, 33, 45, 27, 31, 35, 51, 37, 34.

Those are the scores of the Denver Broncos offense in the record-breaking season of 2013 against every team not named the San Diego Chargers. To this day, those numbers are mind-blowing. Scoring more than 40 points in six games and more than 50 in three, really? Insane.

But in those two games against the Chargers, something changed. In the first matchup, a win for the Broncos, they scored “just” 28 points (just in quotes because I’m pretty sure they’d take 28 every time out this year). In the second matchup, a loss for the Broncos, they scored just 20 points, their lowest output of the regular season.

On Wednesday in the Denver Broncos locker room, BSN Denver sought out the last-remaining offensive player from that unbelievable season, Demaryius Thomas, to find out what the Chargers did to stop that high-flying attack. And the answer has nothing to do with defense.

“They kept us off of the field,” Thomas explained. “That’s the main thing with an explosive offense, you have to keep them off of the field. When an offense can score so fast, it’s like, the longer the opposing offense holds the ball for the defense, the better position the defense will be in.”

And that brings us back to those numbers from the top of the story.

In the first matchup, the Chargers held the ball for 38 minutes to just 22 for the Broncos. In the second matchup, they executed the plan even better, holding it for 39 minutes to just 21 for the Broncos, possessing the ball for nearly two-thirds of the game.

In the win for the Chargers, they ran the ball an astounding 44 times for 177 yards. Phillip Rivers only completed 12 passes. Against a defense that wasn’t exactly world beaters, they committed to running the rock and almost never strayed from it. They knew they didn’t have the defense to stop the Peyton Manning-led Broncos, so they stopped ’em with their offense.

This week, the Broncos welcome in an offense that, at least in the early going, sure looks a lot like that offense in 2013. In their first three games, they’ve put up 38, 42 and 38 again. And while Demaryius is right when he says “Mahomes ain’t Peyton,” you could make the argument that the main arsenal of Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt is even more potent than what Denver had in Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas.

Oh, and Mahomes has started the season even hotter than Manning did. Besting Peyton’s remarkable 12-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the first three games by one.

To this point, Denver’s defense has not shown themselves to be up to the task of stopping this offense alone, and Denver’s offense hasn’t shown themselves to be up to the task of going point-for-point in a shootout. Against a defense that hasn’t shown themselves to be capable of stopping a nosebleed, it may be tempting to carve them up, but Denver’s best bet may be to play a little bit of defense with their offense.

“That’s one of the goals,” Thomas explained before pausing for thought.

“It’s going to be tough, man, it’s going to be tough,” he said speaking of the challenge for his defensive teammates. “I’m just thinking back to teams trying to stop us as a whole offense and they couldn’t because we were kind of unstoppable. Peyton was able to do whatever he wanted. He ran the show. We were hot. I mean, we were hot.”

The Chiefs are that hot, and Bill Musgrave may be the only one with an operational fire extinguisher.

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