ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Fifty-two points don't happen by accident, and they don't happen by virtue of the offense itself. And when the Broncos put their half-century mark on the scoreboard on Sunday, they became the 15th team of the last 20 to score at least 50 points with at least one touchdown on defense or special teams.
A “SPECIAL” DAY
By the time Holliday is at the 10-yard-line, there are only three Eagles in play to potentially stop Holliday, and two of them are already targeted by
Holliday's speed means that directional kicking on punts or kickoffs is a futile quest; teams have to play him more conservatively and not overcommit to one direction of the field, or else they will suffer a similar fate as the Eagles did Sunday.
Johnson also executed his rush perfectly -- he went up for the block, but as he did, began moving in a trajectory that would have taken him to the right of Eagles punter Alex Henery. Even if Johnson had failed to block the punt, he would not have incurred a roughing-the-kicker penalty. This is heads-up play and shows the abundance of skill and awareness that the Broncos' rush, coverage and return teams possess.
In the first 13 quarters of the season, Denver's offense had everything -- except a deep post route that didn't rely on yardage after the catch. It took just two tries for
What makes the successful 52-yard connection between the two work is Earl Wolff's preoccupation with Manning and the targets moving underneath. Wolff sees Manning looking in the direction of
Manning had two check-down options in Welker and Moreno; by taking the deep shot, he'll ensure more open receivers underneath, as the deep post must be taken seriously. The Eagles' adaptation early in the third quarter was to drop more defenders deeper in coverage; when
If you were a frequent attendee of training camp, you saw the deep post work with all three of the Broncos' first-team receivers, making it an even more dangerous threat -- and something that could take this offense to a still-higher level of proficiency, believe it or not. That, and the Broncos' ability to exploit any kind of coverage, is what makes this offense wonderful to watch. Savor it, Broncos fans, because you might not see anything like this in future years.
-- Stunts and delayed pass rushes are a trusted tactic. One terrific example of this was on a third-and-8 play, when
-- Sometimes you have to remember that the Broncos have a handful of new starters, and nothing is going to be perfect. And while
In zone coverage, Ihenacho was the only defender with a chance at containing Ertz, who was free to the left side from Michael Vick's perspective. No defender was within seven yards of Ertz when Vick found him, and Ihenacho responded to the play too late to do anything more than limit the damage by bringing him down at the Denver 17-yard-line, 18 yards beyond where he made the catch.
But Ihenacho deserves credit for preventing a touchdown, and the rest of his performance easily offset that fourth-quarter play. In spite of his bothersome ankle, Ihenacho's speed and aggression in attacking the run make him jump off the film.
-- The Broncos' sack total of 11 is one higher than it was at this point last season, although their tally of quarterback hits is down from 30 after four weeks in 2012 to 27 this year. Their hit and sack ratio is also down from last year. They hit quarterbacks once every five pass plays and sacked them once every 15 plays through four games of 2012; those rates are one every 6.8 plays and one every 16.7 plays, respectively, through four games this season.
But given the emergence of Robert Ayers -- whose sack total of 3.5 is a career-high -- and the explosiveness of Shaun Phillips in helping fill the