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Spreading the Ball Around

Posted Dec 17, 2012

Ball distribution is a crucial component of Denver's offensive attack.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- "It doesn't matter how many yards you got, or how many catches you got," wide receiver Eric Decker said the day after Sunday's win in Baltimore. "As long as you're doing your piece to win the ball game."

That has been the mindset of the entire Broncos receiving corps throughout the 2012 season.

Denver is one of three teams in the NFL that has five pass-catchers with 35-plus receptions. All five of those receivers - wideouts Demaryius Thomas, Brandon Stokley and Decker, and tight ends Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen - have led the team or tied for the team-lead in receptions in at least one game this year. Running back Knowshon Moreno is a sixth player that has accomplished that feat.

"You never know when your number is going to be called," Stokley said. "We all continue to work hard and try to get better. Next week, it might be Demaryius getting a lot of balls thrown his way. The last few weeks, Decker stepped his game up and had the opportunities and made the most of it."

Spreading the ball around has been a huge part of the offense's identity, and a key reason behind its success. When defenses have paid too much attention to one player, Manning has looked the other way and found the open receiver. It shows that Manning not only has the vision to find the open man, but the trust in all of his receivers to be in the right place and make the catch.

"That's the great thing about this offense," Stokley said. "Peyton does a great job of spreading the ball around. I think everybody really realizes that not every week is going to be your week, but we all continue to work and strive and are prepared that if that's our week, we're ready to go."

As Stokley said, it's not who has the hotter hand. Head Coach John Fox said Manning will "take what the defense gives him," and that he is "probably as good as anybody" at finding the open receiver.

Manning said the presence and threat of one receiver can open things up for another. That was the case on Sunday in Baltimore.

"I know Decker had a good day today," Manning said after the team's win against the Ravens. "D.T. probably didn't have the numbers that he's been having, but his presence, I can assure you, is a huge part of what is going on out there."

No matter how many times a receiver is targeted in each game, the pass-catchers for the Broncos know they must be in the right place at the right time in case Manning decides to go their way. It has spread accountability to all of the skill players on the offense. As a direct result, Denver is the second-highest scoring team in the NFL.

"With this quarterback playing," Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy said, "the ball can go anywhere on any play."