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The Broncos have established a new, risky, winning formula

Zac Stevens Avatar
November 28, 2018

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It isn’t pretty. At times, it isn’t fun. And it certainly isn’t easy on the heart.

But the Denver Broncos have a new winning formula.

Forget about running the ball and playing great defense, as that was said to be as their winning formula in the offseason.

Forget about fast starts and being more efficient in the red zone and on third down, as that was said to be their winning formula following the bye week.

That was all talk.

The past two weeks the Broncos have let their play, not their talk, establish what their new path to victory looks like.

“We’ve actually allowed a lot of yards in two weeks, but we’ve held them to, what, 19.5 points [per game] in two weeks with seven takeaways. That’s the key in this league,” Vance Joseph stated as he laid out his team’s new unofficial winning formula as they ride a two-game win streak.

“If you can play great red zone defense, hold them to field goals and take the ball away, that’s the key. The yardage, you have to kind of ignore it, and that’s tough for us to do.”

Bend. Don’t. Break.

But there’s one more component to the often-used phrase.

“Making plays on the ball. That’s the key,” Joseph said, spilling the not-so-secret ingredient. “It’s called ‘takeaways’ for a reason, right? You’ve got to make it happen, you can’t hope it happens. That’s been a key. Seven takeaways and zero turnovers in two weeks. That’s why we’re 2-0 in two weeks.”

So forget about yards, as the Broncos desperately want to do after giving up a whopping 1,006 combined yards in the last two weeks, including letting Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger each top 400 yards in the air.

Yards don’t break a team. Yards without turnovers, on the other hand, destroys a team.

“Defensively, again, we gave some yards up, but in the critical moments, we made plays to win,” Joseph emphasized over and over again. “That’s what’s important.”

But making plays isn’t just about turnovers. It’s about big-time turnovers and capitalizing on them after creating them.

In each of the last two weeks, the Broncos offense has been a near perfect compliment to their play-making defense and special teams units.

Against the Chargers, Denver’s offense turned a fake punt and an interception into two touchdowns. The only time during the Week 11 game when Denver didn’t capitalize was when Joseph elected to forgo an automatic field goal and go for it on 4th-and-1 only to be stuffed.

It was the same story against the Steelers. The Broncos turned three turnovers and a blocked field goal into three scoring drives worth 17 of their 24 points, not capitalizing on the big plays only once.

The fourth turnover also wasn’t capitalized on as Shelby Harris’ interception led to three-straight kneel downs to seal Denver’s two-game win streak.

On the other side of the ball, unsurprisingly, the formula is the same just flipped: Don’t turn the ball over at any cost.

In the Broncos last two wins, their offense has averaged a measly 316.5 yards. But they have as many turnovers in those two games as Dan Marino has Super Bowl rings. Zilch.

It’s the only two games in the entire season Denver has been turnover-free, and although they didn’t light up the stat sheet, they didn’t give the game away.

Oh, getting Phillip Lindsay involved in the offense doesn’t hurt, either, as the Broncos are 5-1 when the undrafted rookie rushes for 70 or more yards, but are winless when he fails to hit that mark. In each of the last two weeks, the Colorado native has, in fact, topped the magical 70 number.

This new winning formula nearly goes completely against what Joseph thought of this team just a month ago.

“Our margin for error is small. We can’t make the normal football mistakes,” Joseph said after the loss to the Rams and reiterated the same message again after his team’s loss to the Texans.

“The margin of error is very small, especially in the competitive league we play in. You have to make sure you do all the small things right. Lock in on all the details as an offense, defense, and special teams. As a team, we have to lock in on the little things so we can ultimately be successful as a team.”

Over the past two weeks, the Broncos have flipped this on its head, as both the offense and the defense have played mistake-filled football, and yet they became the first team since 2005 to beat back-to-back opponents riding six-game win streaks.

The moral of the story is the Broncos don’t have to be perfect. In fact, they can be far, far from it as long as they can continue to come up with, and capitalize on, big plays.

It’s a dangerous, yet exciting, brand of football.


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