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2012 Season Review: Fourth Quarter

Posted Feb 18, 2013

The Broncos closed the regular season on an 11-game win streak and locked up the AFC's No. 1 seed, but fell to the eventual Super Bowl champions in the playoffs.

WEEK 14

Denver 26, Oakland 13

GAME RECAP: The Broncos headed back on the road in Week 14 -- with a short turnaround. Four days after defeating Tampa Bay at home, Denver took on Oakland on Thursday Night Football.

Even with a playoff spot already locked up, Denver showed no signs of slowing down.

The offense put up 26 points while the defense didn't let potential a handfull of big plays by Oakland steal the game's momentum. The defense made game-changing plays of its own, including an interception courtesy of cornerback Champ Bailey and a strip-sack by lineback Von Miller.

TURNING POINT: With a little more than five-and-a-half minutes left in the game, the Raiders pulled to within two possessions. But the Broncos offense didn't let Oakland touch the ball again thanks to three first downs picked up by running back Knowshon Moreno, which allowed Peyton Manning to take three consecutive kneel-downs to seal the win.

KEY STATISTIC: Moreno ran the ball a career-high 32 times for a game-high 119 yards.

QUOTABLE: "(Head) Coach (John) Fox says it all the time -- records and stats get thrown out the window this time of year because everybody has something to play for. We certainly had something to play for tonight and now we have eight (wins) in a row.”
-Tight end Joel Dreessen

WEEK 15

Denver 34, Baltimore 17

GAME RECAP: In their toughest test of the final quarter of the season, the Broncos took down the eventual Super Bowl champions thanks to a stifling defensive effort and a potent offensive attack.

Baltimore managed just one third-down conversion in the game as Denver charged to a 31-3 lead. In the first half, Baltimore had eight drives. Five ended in punts. Two ended in turnovers. The last ended with a kneel-down to send the game to halftime.

Two fourth-quarter Ravens scores threatened to make it interesting, but the Broncos offense put together a 15-play drive that took nearly 10 minutes of game time off the clock and resulted in a Matt Prater field goal that essentially iced the game.

TURNING POINT: With the Ravens threatening to jump back into the game before halftime, cornerback Chris Harris jumped in front of a Joe Flacco pass on first-and-goal for an interception. He returned the pick 98 yards for a touchdown, turning what could have been a narrow 10-7 lead into a comfortable 17-0 margin at the half.

KEY STATISTIC: The Denver defense held Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice to just 38 yards on 12 carries.

QUOTABLE: "To be able to come here and get a win like this against the Baltimore Ravens just doesn’t happen. I’m very proud of our team, the resilience we showed and the week of preparation we put in and how we worked this last week. To come in here and get this win, it’s big.”
-Defensive tackle Justin Bannan

WEEK 16

Denver 34, Cleveland 12

GAME RECAP: The Broncos received the opening kickoff against Cleveland, drove 80 yards down the field in eight plays and capped the drive with a touchdown pass from Manning to Demaryius Thomas. Denver never looked back.

A Phil Dawson field goal made it 7-3, but that was as close as the Browns would get. Manning hit Eric Decker for two touchdowns, Jacob Hester scored on a 1-yard run and Prater kicked two field goals to account for the rest of Denver's scoring.

Cleveland found the end zone just once in a game that saw Miller break the franchise's single-season sack record.

TURNING POINT: Manning and the offense's second consecutive 80-yard, touchdown drive made the score 14-3 and negated any potential momentum the Browns gained from their early field goal.

KEY STATISTIC: Denver held Cleveland to just 233 total yards of offense and 3-of-12 on third down conversions in the game. The Broncos, meanwhile, racked up more than 450 yards and converted 60 percent of their third downs.

QUOTABLE: “It’s not about any other team that we’re facing. It’s about us, and I think that’s the mentality that we’ve approached these last few games (with). Ten wins in a row, we just have to keep on going and take it one week at a time."
-Linebacker Wesley Woodyard

WEEK 17

Denver 38, Kansas City 3

GAME RECAP: Looking to close the regular season with an 11th consecutive win, the Broncos made sure to start quickly against their division rival.

After the defense forced a three-and-out on the opening drive of the game, the offense answered with an eight-play drive that was capped by a 3-yard Moreno touchdown run.

By the fourth quarter, the Broncos had a 35-3 lead and Manning's work was done after throwing for more than 300 yards with three touchdowns. Rookie quarterback Brock Osweiler closed out the game for the final 14:19 and completed his first two NFL passes while leading Denver to a 42-yard field goal, the final points of the game.

With the win, Denver locked up the AFC's No. 1 seed for the playoffs.

TURNING POINT: Denver was well on its way to victory, but when Thomas leaped for a ball that originally looked like it was heading out of bounds and snared it with one hand for a touchdown, the rout was on at 28-3. And Thomas had locked up arguably the catch of the year.

KEY STATISTIC: The defense held Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles -- who rushed for 226 yards the previous week and topped 100 yards against the Broncos in Week 12 -- to just 53 yards on the ground.

QUOTABLE: "This was a big win today. We swept the division for the first time … since 1998. That's a neat thing for this particular team to be able to do."
-Quarterback Peyton Manning

DIVISIONAL ROUND

Baltimore 38, Denver 35 (2OT)

GAME RECAP: In what ultimately was Denver's season finale, the Broncos went blow-for-blow with the eventual Super Bowl-champion Ravens for what amounted to nearly a game-and-a-half.

First, the Broncos took a 7-0 lead thanks to a 90-yard punt return by Trindon Holliday, the first of his two return scores. The Ravens responded with 14 unanswered points, then Denver hit back with back-to-back touchdowns of their own. After Baltimore tied things up at 21 points apiece, the Broncos took a seven-point lead twice, at 28-21 and 35-28.

But with 31 seconds left in the game, the Ravens knotted the game at 35-35 and sent it to overtime. An interception by Manning in the second overtime period led to a 47-yard, game-winning field goal for Baltimore, sending the Broncos home for the 2012 campaign. The Ravens went on to win Super Bowl XLVII.

TURNING POINT: With 41 seconds left and the clock ticking, Flacco fired downfield to Jacoby Jones, who hauled in a 70-yard touchdown to force overtime. After it looked like the Broncos had the game all but wrapped up, the Ravens kept the contest alive and eventually came away with the win in double overtime.

KEY STATISTIC: Holliday became the first player in NFL history to return both a kickoff and a punt for a score in the same playoff game thanks to his 104-yard kickoff return score and 90-yard punt return touchdown.

QUOTABLE: "I had dreams of confetti. I’m still going to continue to have those dreams. Now I have a better understanding of what it takes to get there. ... We’ll remember this, and be better next year."
-Linebacker Von Miller

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