ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos just finished by far their most complete 60 minutes of football in a 45-10 trouncing of the Arizona Cardinals on "Thursday Night Football." Resting on their laurels after such a win, though, would be a mistake.
Head Coach Vance Joseph certainly doesn't expect — and won't tolerate — any drop-off.
"I think our team's played hard the last month and a half," Joseph said Friday. "Obviously winning a game like that helps the emotional part of the football team, but we've played hard. It's a matter of winning some football games and keeping that same feeling. But our football team is focused. We have no problem working during the week, and it's a matter of finishing and winning."
The Broncos rolled up 131 yards on the ground, had two big passing touchdowns, forced five Arizona turnovers, sacked Josh Rosen six times and put the game away early with a dominant 35-point first half.
While the performance was a welcome sign for a team that had lost four straight, the Broncos sit at 3-4 as the season nears its midway point. That's not where they want to be.
"We're 3-4," Joseph said. "We're not a team that's rolling right now. We won one game, but we lost four in a row, so I think the guys like the feeling of winning. ... I think the guys want to get back at it."
The Broncos will use their extra days off to rest, recover and prepare while the coaches devise a game plan against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs for the second time this season. A win at Arrowhead Stadium would truly have things pointing in the right direction. Now isn't the time to be complacent.
ROBY, BOLLES PERFORM WELL IN PRIME TIME
Bradley Roby hauled in his first interception of the season on Thursday night, locking down Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk and then running under an overthrown ball from Rosen. The fifth-year cornerback has had some ups and downs this season, but Joseph likes what he's seen from him over the past couple of weeks.
"He's been working hard," Joseph said. "He realized that he didn't play well against the Jets. That was one of his worst games of the year, obviously. I thought he bounced back decently against the Rams. He had a couple of plays there. But he played really well yesterday."
It was part of a solid all-around performance by the secondary
For this defense to work, the corners have to play well," Joseph said. "Chris [Harris Jr.] has played well the entire season, Roby has had his moments, and I thought [Tramaine] Brock played well the last few weeks as far as covering his guy."
On the other side of the ball, Garett Bolles played one of his best games as an NFL player. The 2017 first-round pick matched up against All-Pro defensive end Chandler Jones and won that battle for the most part. Though Jones did eventually break through for a sack late in the game, he was quiet throughout the night, posting just three combined tackles.
"I thought [Bolles] played one of his best games of the year," Joseph said. "Watching Bolles, he played with great technique, he played with great poise. That Chandler Jones is a great rusher, and [Bolles] blocked him, so I was proud of him."
The talented left tackle has struggled with penalties at times, but he submitted a clean performance while playing every single offensive snap.
"[He was] just doing what he's coached to do, playing with great poise" Joseph said. "[Bolles is] a great athlete. I'm not surprised when he can block a Chandler Jones one-on-one because he's physically capable. It's just consistency he has to work on."
Joseph also praised right guard Connor McGovern, who split time with Max Garcia at right guard last week but is now the full-time starter there with Garcia at left guard.
"I thought Connor bounced back and played solid," Joseph said.
NEXT MAN UP STEPS UP
With the Broncos dealing with several injuries, many backups had to step up. One of the most important backups put into the spotlight was Garcia, who took over for the injured Ron Leary at left guard.
"I thought Max, filling in for Ron, did a great job," Joseph said. "He played with great energy, played physical. He was good in the pass game."
With Darian Stewart exiting with a stinger early in the contest, the Broncos turned to Will Parks at the safety spot opposite Justin Simmons. Parks finished with four tackles. He also disrupted the play that resulted in an interception returned for a touchdown by Harris.
"I thought [Parks] played well," Joseph said. "He played about 55 to 60 snaps. With [Stewart]'s deal, he may have to play more for us. But he's in his third year, so he should play that way for us. He's played good dime for us for the last month-and-a-half. He did a good job at safety last night making the calls, closing the middle and coverage on tight ends, so I was pleased with [Parks] last night. I really was."
Joseph also praised Billy Turner, who has started at right tackle for the injured Jared Veldheer for the past three weeks.
"I thought both tackles played really well," Joseph said.
Other players who stepped up included DeMarcus Walker, who recorded a tackle and recovered a fumble in his first game this season with Shane Ray out.
Joseph gave updates on several players who suffered injuries in Thursday night's game.
Running back Royce Freeman is day-to-day with an ankle injury and is still being evaluated. Joseph hopes to have him back by next weekend.
DaeSean Hamilton is day to day with a knee injury.
Emmanuel Sanders, who left the game late with an ankle injury and did not return, is "fine," Joseph said.
The most significant injury is to Stewart, who left the game in the first quarter with a neck stinger and did not return.
"Darian's had his third stinger in three weeks, so we'll see about that," Joseph said.
As for players who missed the game with injury, Joseph expects Adam Jones to play against Kansas City while Veldheer and Ray are both day to day.
Following a short week, Joseph's message to the team is to recover. Though the players have the weekend off, many will be in the facility getting treatment, Joseph said.
"Use this time to recover," said Joseph of his message to the players. "You've played two games in five days, and we are sore and beat up a little bit. The training room is full of players. Most of the guys will be around here tomorrow getting treatments and working out a little bit. Just use this time to recover and come back Monday with the mindset to go win a game."