DENVER — Dalton Risner is no stranger to doing hard work.
The second-year guard grew up on a farm northeast of Denver, and he still embraces the accoutrements of that lifestyle — the cowboy boots, the hats, the overalls.
Before the game on Sunday, he broke out a new piece of that uniform that would come in handy, if only for the symbolism.
"[We] put on the work gloves before we came to work today," Risner said after the Broncos' 20-13 win against Miami. "All of us put on the work gloves. And today was about the guys on the other side of the ball, and it was about winning that battle."
Risner and the rest of the offensive line ensured that with a dominant performance on the ground in which they paved the way for 189 total rushing yards. A week ago, Denver's performance on the ground left much to be desired; they wouldn't let that be the case again.
"It was personal," Risner said. "It's personal every week. We don't like to lose football games. We don't like being 3-6. We came out today and we wanted to prove that we're a good football team."
Against a Dolphins team that had won five straight games, Denver's offensive line reversed their fortunes by building the kind of lengthy drives that crushed the Broncos' hopes in the third quarter in Las Vegas. On Sunday, the Broncos led drives of 5:40 and 4:46 as they dominated the time of possession in the third quarter, 10:26 to 4:34.
The bulk of that came on the back of the running game, led by a balance attack from Melvin Gordon III and Phillip Lindsay. Gordon rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, while Lindsay ran the ball 16 times for 82 yards.
Gordon and Lindsay are the first Broncos teammates to both have at least 15 carries and 80 rushing yards since Devontae Booker and C.J. Anderson accomplished the feat in 2016.
Why the run game "exploded," as quarterback Drew Lock put it, depended on who you asked.
"I think we just had a great scheme," Gordon said. "I thought the coaches did a great job with scheming up the fronts and the looks and being able to check some great looks for the runs. … Then, honestly, everyone executed. I think the line did a phenomenal job. [T] Garett [Bolles] was out there being a bouncer, bulldozing guys over. He was making some really great lanes for us and then all we had to do was a make a couple guys miss, so that's what we did. It was a great team effort."
The scheme was definitely one reason. Fangio noted that the team installed new run plays during the week, which resulted in a couple of 20-plus yard plays from Lindsay and Gordon.
Another factor, though, was that the Broncos finally were able to play with a lead for a significant portion of the game. In this one, Denver held a lead for the entirety of the second half, and there's no doubt that helped them stay balanced. It was the Broncos' first halftime lead since Week 6, when the team held a 12-3 advantage over New England at the break.
"I'd always like the early lead, that's for damn sure," Fangio said. "… When you're running it decently and you're playing good defense, the whole complexion of the game is different. You're not feeling like, offensively, if we don't score, we're in trouble or you have to throw it every play."
The Broncos would not have been as successful without the scheme and the circumstances that allowed them to run so consistently. That's for sure.
But maybe a key factor, too, was simply that the Broncos wore their work gloves.
"At the end of the day, we came with attitude," Lindsay said. "You have to be able to remain consistent with the run game. That's what it comes down to. When there's a bad play, you still do it. When there's a good play, you go back to it. You've got to stay consistent no matter what you do, because you never know when you're going to break one. Plus, it gets your offensive line in a groove. You guys see Garett Bolles out there, the stuff he is doing is Pro Bowl. He's having a hellacious year. His partner in crime Dalton doing his thing, [C Lloyd] Cushenberry doing his thing and [G] Graham [Glasgow] and [Austin] Schlottmann, all of them are out there doing their thing. That shows you that if you go and trust the run game and you go out and give it everything you've got, it's going to open up."
Get a closer look at Sunday's action against the Miami Dolphins with photos from team photographers Gabriel Christus and Eric Lars Bakke.