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One unit for the Broncos completely defied the odds in their upset win

Zac Stevens Avatar
November 19, 2018

The odds were completely stacked against them.

In fact, it’s almost as if the odds couldn’t be stacked more against them.

On Sunday, the Denver Broncos entered the soccer field in Los Angeles as seven-point underdogs.

That line, however, paled in comparison to the incredibly long odds the Broncos’ offensive line was stacked up against.

And much like the resilient Broncos on Sunday, the underdog group full of misfits, backups and unknowns pulled out the Rudy-style upset against the big, bad Chargers front-seven.

“It was awesome. It was incredible,” Case Keenum said, rattling off words of praise for the big fellas in front of him.

Not only did the group of five do enough to lead Denver to their fourth win on the season, but they also didn’t allow a single sack on Keenum for the entire game — the first time that’s happened all season.

In fact, in the last seven games, Keenum’s been beaten up, having been brought down over three times per game.

On top of that, the Chargers had the 10th-most sacks in the NFL entering Sunday’s matchup between AFC West foes. They did that, of course, without their best pass rusher.

On Saturday night, the Chargers found out the good news that Joey Bosa would make his season debut against the Broncos.

Despite all of that, the sack column on Sunday was filled with a goose-egg.

“Obviously, our offensive line,” head coach Vance Joseph said, crediting the offensive line first as he dished out credit across the team for the come-from-behind victory. “That room has been so resilient for us.”

Additionally, the line did their job — much as they have all season long — in the run game. The team finished with an impressive 5.7 yards per carry.

“Real big,” Phillip Lindsay said about the line’s play, as they not only helped him to 7.2 yards per carry, but opened up a massive hole to spark his 41-yard touchdown run.

The line’s play was so big, in fact, it earned one of the two game balls given out by Joseph in the locker room following the game.

All of this would be impressive on its own. But that’s only half the story.

“We lost three of our starters,” Joseph said, reminding the world how makeshift the offensive line had become in recent days.

If it wasn’t tough enough to lose Ron Leary — the team’s highest-paid offensive lineman — earlier in the season due to a torn Achilles, Denver lost their Iron Man, Matt Paradis, midway through their previous game.

After shapeshifting and rearranging the makeup of the line during the bye week, Denver had its group ready to roll.

That was until Max Garcia, the team’s starting left guard, tore his ACL in Thursday’s practice. Another adjustment was needed just 48 hours before Sunday’s game. The team filled Garcia’s spot — which was Leary’s spot — with swing tackle Billy Turner.

The guard on the other side, Elijah Wilkinson, was also better suited better as a tackle than a guard, in the words of offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.

“To have those guys in there at guard — some of them in there for the first time this year, finding out on Friday that they’re going to do that, that was incredible,” Keenum said, again trying to find the proper words of praise. “To not hit the ground today, no sacks, that’s big time. That’s guys doing their job. You have to give them all the credit in the world.”

And if all of that wasn’t enough, they stepped up when it mattered the most.

Denver was backed up at their own eight-yard line with 1:51 left on the clock, no timeouts and needing roughly 60 yards to attempt a game-winning field goal. A sack would have crushed the Broncos’ hopes of a comeback.

But no sacks were to be had.

“That was a great pocket there toward the end of the game and really all game,” Keenum said, speaking on the final game-winning seven-play, 76-yard drive. “In our drop back role, I think they did a great job.”

The group that had become easy to point fingers at all season long became the unsung heroes on Sunday.

While the headlines will go to Keenum, Lindsay and Von Miller — and all rightfully so — Garett Bolles, Turner, McGovern, Wilkinson and Jared Veldheer overcame all of the odds to be a central part of Denver’s win.

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