Denver Broncos A-Team: David Bruton, Emmanuel Sanders, and Chris Harris, Jr.

Dennis Best Avatar
December 22, 2015



The Denver Broncos are starting to develop a pretty serious pattern; look like a Super Bowl contender in the first half, and completely fall apart in the second.

The orange and blue lost a much-needed game in Pittsburgh on Sunday against a Steelers team who were fighting for their playoff lives. I get it, both teams needed this win and Pittsburgh looked like they wanted it more.

It was not all bad for Denver as they did hold the league’s second-best offense to 13 total points in the first half. Then, without warning, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told Big Ben Roethlisberger to go out there and make the best defense in football look like a bunch of scrubs.

Denver did not have an answer for the Steelers in the second half, not a single one. It was the first game this season that Denver allowed 30 or more points in a single contest. There is still a small chance that the Mile High crew misses the playoffs entirely; head coach Gary Kubiak and vice president of football operations John Elway need to right this ship by Monday.

Another AFC North opponent in the Cincinnati Bengals will be here for Denver’s only game under the lights of Monday Night Football this season; quarterback Brock Osweiler will have to make sure Denver doesn’t go seven straight games without scoring in the third quarter.

Okay, rant over. Now for the A-Team.

David Bruton

Playing in the NFL is a tough business, people get hurt and players are forced to sit and watch when the unfortunate happens; unless you’re Broncos safety, David Bruton. Bruton played a total of 77 snaps after fracturing his right fibula in the loss to Pittsburgh.

The seventh-year man out of Notre Dame was somber after being asked about the injury.

“Honestly, I thought it was a bruise,” Bruton told reporters on Monday. “Us being down already and me missing last game and knowing how important this game was, there is no way I was going to come out. I’d have to have something very, very serious—well obviously this is serious—but something that kept me out of the game right then and there immediately. That’s the only way I would have stayed out. I gave 110 percent.

“I basically gave a leg for my guys, literally,” he added. “It’s Just a tribute to the fact that I love the team and love being a part of it.”

Emmanuel Sanders

As I stated earlier, this team was completely different after halftime and the one player who had a monster game before the half was former Steeler and current Broncos all-star, Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders knew he wanted to have a big game against the team who drafted him in the third round of the 2010 NFL draft and he did just that. Sanders had a total of 181 yards on 10 catches Sunday afternoon, including a 61-yard touchdown from Osweiler halfway through the first quarter to give Denver the lead, at the time.

Even Sanders himself noticed to difference after halftime but knows it’s all about looking forward and not backward.

“It’s definitely weird. At the end of the day, all that we can do is come back here on Wednesday with a positive mindset and just continuously work to get better,” he said. “I feel like the team that we saw in the first half of last game if we can be that for four quarters, I don’t think there’s a team out here that can beat us. We just have to find a way to play a full four quarters and we’re going to do that.”

Chris Harris, Jr.

One player on the defensive side of the ball is who you can always count on is cornerback Chris Harris, Jr. and his ability to shut down opposing wide receivers. Harris had not allowed a wide receiver a touchdown one-on-one in over two seasons, until Sunday. Even though Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown had himself an afternoon (18 catches for 189 yards) on the young CB, you have to give credit to a player who goes out and gives his heart every play.

“You always want to play better,” Harris told Denver media Monday. “Really he [Brown] had a lot of short catches. I just had to make the tackles. I didn’t make the tackles. I’m usually a guy that never misses tackles, so I just wasn’t myself yesterday. I’ve got to play a lot better, especially when the team needs me the most.”

Now, I understand it could be seen as controversial to include Harris in the A-team but hear me out. Harris has been a staple in the defensive backfield on the league’s No. 1 defense and he had one bad game. It was not until the second half that the best WR in football got the best of Harris and he knows what it will take to get back on the right track. We as a fan base owe him some slack for showing us he is human after all.

For every bad game Harris has had these last two seasons, he has won a game for the home team as well; we all remember the pick-six to seal a win week five against the Oakland Raiders.

“The way I played was very disappointing, and I let my team down,” Harris said after the loss.

This game will long be forgotten if Harris manages to keep Bengals all-pro wideout A.J. Green out of the end zone Monday night.

This was a team loss, plain and simple. You can blame all aspects of the 60-minute contest, but, at the end of the day, this is a team game and a team loss. This Monday night is now a crucial game for the orange and blue; this kind of performance again might keep Denver out of the playoffs entirely.


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