ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Perhaps it was a coincidence that the Broncos scored all 21 of their offensive points at Cincinnati in the third quarter, when they quickened the pace and played almost exclusively out of a three-wide receiver set.
"I'm not sure if the tempo really is what it's about as much as just the execution," said quarterback Peyton Manning.
But the connection was notable, and as the Broncos reconvened to begin preparing for the Raiders, they did so knowing that their old friend, the quick-snap, no-huddle attack, remains a viable, effective weapon at home or away.
"Yeah. I like the up-tempo (offense)," said running back C.J. Anderson. "There's no disrespect to when we huddle. I think when we huddle, especially on the road, we get the communication a lot better."
The Broncos' best drive of the first half was also in the no-huddle offense, when they marched to a field-goal attempt that Connor Barth missed as the second quarter ended. But from that 63-second, 49-yard sprint, they got an idea, and exploited it.
"That did get us going. It kind of fed into the second half," Manning said.
And it was a product of what the Broncos did when they took their time throughout the first quarter and a half. When the Broncos huddle and move at a measured pace, they feel out the opponent.
"I just think that when we go up-tempo, it's saying, 'This is what we're going to be in, we know you guys are going to be in this, and even in this package, there are a lot of holes that we can find inside the defense,'" Anderson said. "I think that when we huddle, we're feeling out the game, getting a rhythm, and then when we find that one package that we want to be in, that's something we'll be in on top of the up-tempo play."
The last five weeks saw the Broncos develop their run game. If the situation warrants that the Broncos must win by emphasizing a deliberate ground assault, they can succeed. It's a tool that wasn't in their chest several weeks ago, and wasn't there last year -- and they could have used it in Super Bowl XLVIII to try and regain a grip in a game that spun out of control.
So there was tangible value to what the Broncos accomplished by tweaking their style during their four-game winning streak.
But in the third quarter in Cincinnati, a potential playoff foe got a glimpse of how the air-centric, quick-strike attack still works.
"Moving into the playoffs, we've got the up-tempo," Anderson said. "(We can) keep going and try to tire teams out and do what we do best, so we'll just go out there and play fast, and when we can play fast, get the calls -- even if you make a mistake, it's so fast, you won't know it.
"So you play fast, get the calls and go, and we're a dangerous offense to stop."
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