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Broncos Triumph in Overtime

Posted Oct 23, 2011

Matt Prater kicked a game-winning field goal to finish the comeback victory.

Miami -- For 57 minutes, the Broncos were held scoreless.

But it just took three minutes -- and overtime -- for them to make history Sunday.

Down 15-0 late in the fourth quarter, the Broncos scored two touchdowns and added a two-point conversion in the final 2:52 of regulation to become the first team in NFL history since the 1970 merger to come back from a 15-point deficit with three minutes left in a game and win.

"I kept believing and more importantly, I kept believing in the people around me that eventually we were going to be able to start getting things going, and eventually we did," said Tim Tebow, who was making his first start at quarterback of the season. "It started with little bits then we started getting chunks and we kept going. I was proud of our team that we kept getting up."

The comeback became complete after Matt Prater kicked a 52-yard field goal halfway through the overtime to lift the Broncos to an improbable 18-15 victory over the Dolphins.

Prater had missed two field goals earlier in the game, but came through when it mattered most.

"I felt like I needed to redeem myself," Prater said. "The team expects me to make every kick. I didn't have my best kick and I expect to make it, too. I felt confident."

The rally started with just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Broncos got the ball at their own 20-yard line and the team marched down the field. The drive culminated with Tebow throwing a 5-yard pass to a diving Demaryius Thomas at the front pylon for the second-year receiver's first touchdown catch of 2011 in his season debut.

The score brought the Broncos within one possession of Miami. But with just 2:52 left and no timeouts, Denver couldn't afford to give the ball back to the Dolphins, and attempted an onside kick.

Dolphins receiver Mark Moore jumped and grabbed the ball above everyone else, but the Broncos hit him as he was landing, forcing the ball from his grasp. Tight end Virgil Green pounced on the loose ball, recovering the kick and giving the Broncos the play they needed. The offense did the rest. Tebow found tight end Daniel Fells on a misdirection screen pass for a 3-yard score and the quarterback ran it in for the two-point conversion to tie the game with just 17 seconds remaining. Prater finished off the win in overtime.

"We had that opportunity (to score a two-point conversion) two weeks ago, came up a little short," Tebow said. "We were able to make that play this week and we believed. I know I keep saying that, but I don't know how many times it was said to me, and I said it to other guys throughout the game. I think that was, at least what I took away, the biggest thing of the game."

Even though the offense was able to move down the field and put two scoring drives together in the last few minutes of the game and in overtime, it wasn't like that for most of the afternoon.

Tebow struggled early, going just 3-for-8 passing for 24 yards through three quarters. The Broncos were able to generate some success running the ball, as they finished the game with 183 rushing yards, but stalled near the red zone. Denver had two field goal attempts, but Prater was unable to convert from 49 and 43 yards.

"That's my fault that we were in that position in the first place," Tebow said. "I've just got to play better in the first three quarters so we don't have to make that comeback in the fourth."

While the offense struggled, the defense starred. Three times the Dolphins got inside the Broncos 20-yard line. Only once did they come away with a touchdown.

"That's the money area," said safety Quinton Carter, who made his first career start. "We talked about picking up our red zone play. We had given up like three rushing touchdowns to the quarterback and different looks and knick-knack passes, and we just wanted to tighten down in that area."

Fittingly, for a unit that kept the team in it for the entire game, it was the defense that came up with the play that put the Broncos in position for the game-winning field goal.

With the Dolphins driving on their second possession in overtime -- going from their own 15-yard line to their own 43-yard line in just four plays -- linebacker D.J. Williams came around the edge. He not only sacked Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore, but stripped him as well. He recovered his own fumble, giving the Broncos the ball at the Dolphins 36-yard line.

Head Coach John Fox knew he just needed to run it three times to get the ball to where Prater could win the wild game.

"I've been on both sides of those," Fox said. "It was good to be on this side today."