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It’s amazing what a good halftime speech will do to rejuvenate a young team.
Head coach Gary Kubiak and the Denver Broncos went into the locker room Monday night down 14-3 and seemed to have zero fight left. It looked like they were trying to give the number two seed to the Cincinnati Bangles and the AFC West crown to the Kansas City Chiefs. Then, without warning, the orange and blue came roaring back in the second half to eventually steal a victory in overtime, 20-17.
I think this is what they meant by “kicking and screaming.”
Everybody in a Broncos jersey played their hearts out in the second half under the lights of Monday Night Football, but some shined brighter than others. Here is the A-team for week 16.
Daniels has never played for a team that Kubiak was not involved with; the journeyman has seen his ups and downs this time around and shined brightest Monday night. Quarterback Brock Osweiler found Daniels frequently in the latter portion of the contest and he proved that a tight end for Denver CAN catch a football in clutch time. Daniels ended up with five receptions for 70 yards, none bigger than his back-to-back catches in the final drive of regulation to set up a Brandon McManus field goal, a field goal McManus would miss.
“Owen is an incredible player,” Osweiler said. “It seems like any time I throw the football to Owen, he is making a play and he’s catching that ball. When the game is on the line, you want to look for your guys that you know are going to make plays.”
Plus, anybody who takes a shot like this and pops right up deserves to be on the list.
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) December 30, 2015
Anderson went into the showdown Monday night knowing he should be the No. 1 running back for the Denver Broncos; after his gutsy performance, I’m inclined to believe him. “Bash” Anderson ran for a total of 73 yards on nine carries and ended the night with a touchdown on his cutback to give Denver the lead late in the third quarter.
“The jump cut has always been part of my arsenal,” Anderson said. “I’m just mad I fumbled.”
Anderson had gone 319 carries without coughing up the ball until he had the football poked out by Bangles defensive end Michael Johnson with 4:12 remaining in the game.
The young ball carrier really does enjoy the cold weather, in the third coldest game in franchise history, Anderson shined.
“I hope it’s cold every game from here on out,” he said with a smile.
There is something to be said about a young quarterback that can keep his composure after having such an abysmal first half. Osweiler went out and showed the world why he deserves to be a starter in the National Football League.
Osweiler went 27-39 for 299 yards and one touchdown Monday night while posting a total QBR of 100.3, the highest of his young career. “The Deputy” was solid in all aspects after halftime, keeping calm in the pocket and finding open receivers. Osweiler had arguably his biggest play right before halftime, finding a wide open Emmanuel Sanders downfield as the pocket collapsed, and setting up for a chip shot from McManus.
Osweiler is now 4-2 in his career as a starter and has wins over both New England and Cincinnati but knows not to let all that go to his head. Having 18-year veteran Peyton Manning looming on the sidelines has not caused him to lose focus.
“The focus moving forward will be San Diego and very quick. We’re coming onto a short week. We know that San Diego is going to give us their best shot,” Osweiler said. “They have a lot of talented players. I’m not concerned with the quarterback situation. I’m going to show up whether I’m the starter or whether I’m the backup. I’m going to prepare the same exact way. I’m going to be the same exact guy in that building regardless of the situation. The focus needs to be on San Diego.”
Credit has to be given to the entire defensive side of the ball for their performance in the second half Monday night. Wade Phillips and company were able to hold Cincinnati to three total points and both defensive tackle Vance Walker and defensive end Derek Wolfe were able to get to young quarterback A.J. McCarron for sacks. Von Miller seemed to be living in the backfield while veteran defensive end DeMarcus Ware was able to recover a botched snap in OT to seal a victory.
This team has talent; a lot of talent. If they can just figure out how to pull it together for an entire 60 minutes, you might be seeing them in February.