ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **Not even Barry Sanders, Walter Payton or Jim Brown made the success of their teams' ground games happen on their own.
That's why it's important to make sure that in the wake of a 190-yard output that was the Broncos' best rushing game of the season, the blocking scheme as a whole -- from the starting offensive line to its tight ends to fullback Andy Janovich -- takes a bow.
Let's start with the play that shook the Broncos out of their early struggles; C.J. Anderson's 11-yard gallop at the end of the first quarter.
The play starts with John Phillips winning his one-on-one battle against John Simon on the right edge, leaving the rest of the work to right tackle Donald Stephenson and right guard Michael Schofield. Stephenson peels off LDE D.J. Reader as he sees Brian Cushing closing in, leaving Schofield to finish off Reader.
By moving up to take care of Cushing, Stephenson turns a 3-yard gain into an 11-yard burst that ignited the offense.
Anderson's 7-yard run to cap the drive is a perfectly executed counter play -- right down to the decision Anderson makes. As the play develops, it looks like the best path to the end zone is going to be between left tackle Russell Okung and left guard Max Garcia.
But as Anderson receives the handoff, Matt Paradis is in the process of driving Brandon Dunn to the ground, and Garcia has successfully contained Jadeveon Clowney, doing a good job getting his hands up fast, ensuring Clowney will be occupied long enough for Anderson to burst through. The counter nature of the play freezes safety Corey Moore; he takes a step to his left, which is enough to ensure he won't reach Anderson as the running back gets to the second level.
The execution of the play itself isn't easy. But the result is a touchdown that looks easy, as Anderson is barely grazed en route to the end zone.
The Broncos' next possession ended in another touchdown, and Devontae Booker's 8-yard run on the second play of the series is a big reason why. This was the first of three consecutive carries that picked up 30 yards and moved the Broncos into field-goal range, and sees outstanding tandem work.
It starts with Garcia pulling all the way over from his left guard spot to the right flank, where he takes out Simon. Then it's up to Janovich and Michael Schofield. Schofield disengages from a two-man block on Vince Wilfork when he sees Brian Cushing moving toward a gap; he turns and removes Cushing from the play. When Janovich flies outside to take care of Bernardrick McKinney, Booker has the crease he needs.
Booker's next two gains see further good work from the line. On a 12-yard run, Booker is able to use Matt Paradis' block on Cushing to reach the second level and beyond; a 10-yard run on the next play after that sees Booker make a cut to get past Bernardrick McKinney, who has been guided off-balance by Stephenson, Booker then gets the last three yards by fighting through two defenders.
Further success for the ground game will depend on whether Booker can handle an increased role and whether Kapri Bibbs is up to the task while Anderson recovers from his knee injury.
Bibbs effectively read gaps as they developed in the zone-blocking scheme during practices the last two years, with nearly all of his work coming behind the No. 2 and No. 3 lines. If he can apply that with the first team, he should be able to sustain the momentum built by the ground game Monday night.