ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- There were plenty of things for Broncos fans to like about the team's 34-0 drubbing of the 49ers on Sunday. We looked back to break down a few of the highlights.
New year, new stadium, same result.
The Broncos opened the 2013 preseason in San Francisco and forced the Niners into four turnovers: two interceptions and two fumbles. It was deja vu in Sunday's game at Levi's Stadium, with Denver again picking off two passes and recovering two fumbles.
"We needed it," Omar Bolden said of the barrage of takeaways. "We were due. I don't know how many we got last week, but it's always good to come out and overdo what we did the past week."
There were even more opportunities for turnovers that the Broncos' defense barely missed, with three in particular that stood out. In the second quarter, Bolden couldn't quite corral a tipped ball that bounced his way.
In the fourth quarter, Jerome Murphy forced the ball out of Devon Wylie's grasp with a thunderous hit, but the play was ruled an incomplete pass and a personal foul on a defenseless receiver was called against Murphy. However, Wylie had taken at least three steps after the catch and turned upfield as a ball carrier, so the play could have easily been ruled a catch and a fumble -- which Denver recovered -- without a penalty.
In the final minute of the game, another potential interception just slipped through the fingers of John Boyett, with the ball caroming to 49ers tight end Kevin Greene for a 48-yard reception. Despite the missed opportunity, it set the stage for the defense's final shining moment.
GOAL LINE STAND
With the 49ers inside the Broncos' 10-yard line and a hard-earned shutout in doubt, Denver's defense did anything but lay down.
"We've been looking for a shutout for a long time," Bolden said. "It all means something to us. You take every snap seriously -- from the ones, to the twos, to the threes, and we like to compete to the end of the fourth quarter."
A first-down carry netted the 49ers just one yard when defensive tackle Sione Fua helped clog the middle of the line. A quick pass got San Francisco closer to the end zone, but Murphy and Charles Mitchell provided a big hit to keep the receiver short of the goal line.
Murphy helped finish off the stand, making the tackle on a 1-yard run to the Denver 1-yard line and then combining with linebacker L.J. Fort for a tackle for loss on fourth down.
"We had to fight like a dog on those 4th-and-2 and goal line situations and stopped them," Malik Jackson said. "It was a testament to what our coaches preach. We just go in there, work hard and when it's your opportunity to shine, you shine."
The reaction from the Broncos' sideline showed how much the shutout meant to everyone, with offense and defense, first- and second-team alike all celebrating.
"They're trying to score and it's nice when the defense has a goal line stand like that," Peyton Manning said. "You can always learn from those situations so a lot of young guys out there playing with a lot of energy, that was good to see."
A SHOW BY THE SECOND-TEAM
With a sharp performance from the starters, the Broncos' second unit got into the game with plenty of time to play in the first half. That meant Brock Osweiler and Co. got the chance to work against the clock for a late-half score.
"That's a situation that we work on all the time in practice, but rarely does a second- or third-string quarterback get the opportunity to run the two-minute drill in a game," Osweiler said. "So for that to come up, I think it was huge. Our offense handled it very well -- the O-line, the backs, they did great in protection, and even getting out on checkdowns. I think it was a great offensive effort."
Denver started its drive with 3:21 remaining and bled the clock perfectly, using a few completions to Jacob Tamme to get near the goal line with seconds remaining. C.J. Anderson capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge into the endzone, leaving just two seconds on the clock.
After halftime, the unit showed they could strike quickly with the deep ball as well. A play after an interception by Tony Carter, Osweiler threw deep up the sideline for rookie Cody Latimer, who gathered the ball while going to the ground in the endzone for a 33-yard touchdown.
"I just saw a one-on-one matchup there and there was just a single high safety in the middle of the field, so I did my best to hold him for as long as I could so he couldn't go over there and help make the play," Osweiler said. "Cody just did a tremendous job of running by the corner and making a great catch in the end zone."
Latimer was equally willing to deflect the praise for the big play.
"Just great ball placement," he said. "Great call by the coaches, trusting me to go for a deep ball like that. [Osweiler] put it in the right place for me to stretch out and get it."