@GrayCaldwell #GrayMatter I feel Knowshon should have a huge impact in this game like last time. Will a strong run game and T.O.P. = a win? — #BeatThePats Mushin (@metalheadmushin) January 16, 2014
Well, no. I don't think there's ever that simple of a formula. Even winning the turnover battle isn't a sure thing -- the Chargers won that two-to-nothing in the Divisional Round and the Broncos still won.
Looking at Denver's regular season, the Broncos were 3-1 when winning both the rushing-yardage and time-of-possession battles -- and that one loss came against the Patriots.
In the playoffs this year, only three of the eight winners in the Wild Card and Divisional Rounds won in both rushing and time of possession -- New Orleans, New England and Denver.
Knowshon Moreno said he's ready for a repeat performance from that first Patriots game when "things were just clicking," but coaches and players acknowledged that this Sunday's game will likely be nothing like the two teams' Week 12 matchup.
"That was last game," Moreno said. "We don't know what is going to happen now in this new game."
"Whatever they're giving us, whatever is working the best, that's what we're going to do."
I don't think there's a magic formula that equals a win. With so much on the line, it's likely just going to come down to who makes the most plays.
Demaryius Thomas said that's exactly what veterans like Peyton Manning, Wes Welker and Champ Bailey have been reinforcing to the team.
"They'll tell you it's going to be a 60-minute game," Thomas said. "It's going to be one play somewhere in the game, and somebody's got to make a play to change the game."
@GrayCaldwell was ball security the main reason to make decker the primary returner? #GrayMatter — jamieandconnie (@jamieandconnie) January 17, 2014
After Sunday's game, Head Coach John Fox called it "just a little bit of a changeup."
"Their punter put a lot of air time on the ball in the first two meetings," Fox said. "We didn't get a lot of opportunities to get returns. Eric's a little bit of a rangier body, covers a little bit more ground. Just giving him the opportunity, and I think you saw some pluses in that tonight."
To that point, Decker ripped off a 47-yard punt return that he nearly took all the way to the end zone -- but he joked that he tripped over an "invisible fence" 30 yards away from paydirt.
"That was an outstanding return," Fox said. "He made a lot of good cuts and movement to get into that position. After that, maybe not so much (laughing)."
Decker said he was happy with his performance -- with the exception of falling down on that return. Keep in mind, Trindon Holliday was still a returner for the Broncos against the Chargers -- he handled kickoff duties, averaging more than 25 yards per return. He broke one for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but a block-in-the-back penalty negated his return score.
@GrayCaldwell who is Denver Broncos resident DJ? the one responsible for the music playlist in stadium? — DenBroncos Indonesia (@DenverBroncosID) January 9, 2014
Good question, and it's a collaborative effort. The easiest answer is that it's the ThunderVision team -- the same group that updates the scoreboard throughout the game and provides the replays also provides the music selection.
Many of the songs during pregame warmups come straight from the players. Throughout the season, a request sheet was in the locker room, and the players could write down any music they wanted to hear.
Long snapper Aaron Brewer, for example, often requests reggae band Rebelution. Welker's requests have included "Scar Tissue" by Red Hot Chili Peppers and "Crawl" by Kings of Leon. The picks have ranged from David Bruton's Mystikal, Jay-Z and Drake to Mitch Unrein's Metallica and Johnny Cash.
I'd probably go with this.