Any win on Monday Night Football is a good win.
That’s why the Broncos prepared for Monday unlike how they’ve prepared for any other game. They painted Buffalo Bills logos in the middle of both of their practice fields. They played the Monday Night Football theme song over the speakers during pre-practice stretches. They ___ the longest road trip In recent Broncos history—outside of their game in London last year—when they left for Buffalo early Saturday afternoon and returned on Tuesday.
“We had to choose a couple of weeks ago to buy into each other,” linebacker Alex Singleton said. “Everybody’s done that. People know we’ve been in Buffalo for a week now. We’re together. We’re doing this all together.”
The Broncos wanted this one. And they got it, winning a 24-22 thriller in front of a national audience. A desperate Bills team had.won 37 games in the three previous seasons, but the Broncos knocked them down to 5-5 on the year. Meanwhile Denver is now 4-5 and can sniff playoff contention.
“We believe,” quarterback Russell Wilson said after the game. “We believe in each other. We believe in what we can do.”
But are these Broncos worth believing in?
Three weeks ago, that would have been a ridiculous question. They were 1-5 and held a prime position in the race for the No. 1 overall pick. They were virtually eliminated from contention for anything that mattered.
“It just feel so good to win, man,” Justin Simmons said. “I’m just sitting here thinking about the adversity that we hit there and I’m just proud of this team.”
But a three-game winning streak through the toughest portion of the schedule has turned a once-dead season into one of the Broncos’ best opportunities since Super Bowl 50. Through nine games, they were 5-4 in 2021, 6-3 in 2016, and 4-5 or worse in the five other seasons.
The Broncos still have a long way to go before they have their first winning season since 2016 or their first playoff appearance since Super Bowl 50, but they’re now the hottest team in the AFC. They’re the only team that has won three games in a row. Throw in the NFC, and the only team with a longer streak is the Minnesota Vikings who have won five in a row.
Denver’s defense has led the way during their streak. They allowed 26.2 points per game in the first five weeks of the season and 16.8 in the four games since. They’ totaled at least four takeaways in two consecutive games for the first time since 1992.
“Our defense has been unstoppable the past several weeks,” Wilson said. “Everybody was talking stuff about them, but I go against these guys every day. I know how hard they work and what they do. Man, these guys have been unbelievable, man.”
While the offense hasn’t put up astronomical numbers, it’s been competent. The Broncos have been able to play complementary football and find ways to get wins.
Monday night was a game of tug-of-war. Only 10 of the 23 possessions in the game resulted in points. The Broncos’ 25 yards per offensive possession were nothing special—that would rank 30th in the NFL this season—the lack of turnovers meant Denver consistently won the field position battle. On average, the Bills started possessions at their own 24 and the Broncos started possessions at their own 41.
The Broncos still aren’t perfect. More offense would help. The special teams gave up three points in the point-after-attempt game, which nullified a big return from Marvin Mims and punter Riley Dixon’s longest kick of the year.
But they’re a lot closer than they were a month ago.
“We know what we can do,” Wilson said. “We have to come back to work this week. We’re going against a team, the Vikings, at home, who’s been playing some really good football. We’re going to enjoy this win, though. We’re going to celebrate. We’re going to have some fun. This is a huge one. This is a good football team we just played. Obviously, the past couple weeks we’ve been playing some really good teams. To beat the Chiefs, to beat these guys, sets the standard of who we should be and who we can be and who we’re going to be.”