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News & Blogs


How It Happened: Broncos 51, Titans 28

Posted Dec 8, 2013

Matt Prater's NFL-record, 64-yard field goal energized the Broncos in what turned into the Broncos' third 50-plus point outburst this season.

DENVER -- A record-breaking field goal got the Broncos back on track Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

As time expired in the first half, Matt Prater knocked an NFL-record, 64-yard field goal through the uprights to pull the Broncos within a point of the Tennessee Titans.

"Everybody was saying, 'It's not the game-winning field goal,'" linebacker Von Miller said. "Motivation-wise, momentum-wise, it certainly felt like it."

Two quarters later, Denver had a 51-28 victory, moving the club to 11-2 on the season and securing a playoff berth in the process.

“That’s our goal," Head Coach John Fox said of the playoffs. "But our goal is still to win the division and obviously get the best seed we can. Our biggest goal is to get to the big game and win the big game.”

The 51 points tied for the second-most in team history and made the Broncos the first team since the 1970 NFL merger to score at least 50 points three times in a season.

The offense ran 91 plays -- the most in team history in a non-overtime game -- and in the process gained 551 yards, marking the sixth-most in a game in team history.

“Well, you score 51 points, so you’re doing something right," said quarterback Peyton Manning, who threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns. "We had a lot of first downs. I don’t know how many, but we were first-down, second-down, first-down. When you’re in that kind of rhythm it puts a lot of pressure on the defense. It doesn’t give them a chance to even get to their third-down packages. It helped us to move the ball down the field."

For the second week in a row, the Broncos found themselves in an early hole.

The Titans led by as many as 11 in the first half thanks to three rushing touchdowns -- two courtesy of Shonn Greene and one from Chris Johnson. At that point, the Broncos had managed a Wes Welker touchdown on fourth down and a Prater field goal to trail 21-10.

“We went through some adverse situations in that first – we have to find a better way to hold them to field goals there and not give them momentum," defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said. "But I’m just happy about how we finished. We finished strong enough to get a ‘W’ and let our offense get on the field more.”

To that point, 24 unanswered points followed quickly.

It started with a 10-play drive that Julius Thomas capped with an 8-yard touchdown catch.

"We know what we have the capability and potential to do if we were executing," said Thomas, who set a new Broncos record for touchdown catches by a tight end with 11. "All year, we’ve been proving that if we get things going, that we’ll be explosive and we’ll put points up on that scoreboard. So we’re not going to get down if we’re down 14 points, or whatever the situation was. Just going to keep fighting and we know we’ll be able to put it in the end zone.”

After a Titans three-and-out -- one of four the defense forced -- Prater's field goal fired up the team at the half.

"You felt the energy in the stadium as we ran off the field," Fox said. "No doubt that energized our football team.”

On the opening drive of the third quarter, Manning found Demaryius Thomas for his third touchdown pass of the game. Three plays later, a Knighton interception -- thanks to pressure by Miller -- gave the offense the ball back at Tennessee's 43-yard line.

The ensuing eight-play drive culminated in a 1-yard touchdown run by Knowshon Moreno to move the score to 34-21 in Denver's favor.

Tennessee wasn't finished, as a 41-yard strike from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Justin Hunter -- who finished the game with 114 receiving yards -- moved the Titans back to within six.

But that was as close as Tennesee would get.

Seventeen more unanswered Broncos points -- touchdowns by Eric Decker and Montee Ball and a third Prater field goal -- put the game out of reach for good.

Now, the playoff-bound Broncos prepare for the AFC West-rival San Diego Chargers on a short week. The matchup comes in just four days on Thursday Night Football.

"We're just trying to keep pushing," Miller said. "We're not worried about playoffs. We want to take care of San Diego right now. Continue to take it one play at a time. We don't want to bite off more than we can chew. That's what's been working for us, so we're going to stick to it."

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