DENVER --A brilliant December sun shone on downtown Denver -- and for the first time in over two months, it shone on the Broncos, as well.
The Broncos not only snapped their eight-game losing streak with a 23-0 win over the New York Jets, but they recorded their first shutout in over a dozen years -- since a 27-0 whitewashing of those same Jets on Nov. 20, 2005.
"We've been waiting for a game like this for a long time," said inside linebacker Brandon Marshall, whose first-quarter forced fumble helped kick-start the rout. "We've been playing bad football for the last two months. Just bad football.
"We finally came out here today and we put on tape what we know we could have done all along.
Why did the Broncos break out of their skid?
Because they forced the Jets into early mistakes**
Denver successfully flipped the script of its eight-game losing streak, forcing the early turnover that defined the script of the game.
The Broncos cranked up the pressure on the Jets early, as Brandon Marshall engulfed Jets running back Elijah McGuire for a 3-yard loss on the Jets' first snap of the game. Two plays later, with the Jets in third-and-11, Marshall burst through to reach McCown, who lost the football in the backfield.
Defensive end Adam Gotsis recovered the loose football at the New York 20-yard line, and the Broncos capitalized on a 20-yard Trevor Siemian-to-Demayrius Thomas touchdown pass two plays later.
A second-quarter interception by Darian Stewart further sunk the Jets on their deepest foray into the game. The Jets had advanced to the Denver 35-yard line before a penalty knocked them back 5 yards, and then Stewart picked off McCown as he attempted to hit Robby Anderson deep down the right sideline. That ended what proved to be the Jets' best scoring threat of the day.
Because Denver's offense avoided miscues of its own**
The Broncos played their first turnover-free game since Week 4, and that made all the difference.
With the offense avoiding giveaways, Denver's defense didn't have to operate with a short field; New York's 12 drives started between their 11- and 25-yard lines.
"The difference is that we didn't turn the ball over. We played complementary football today," Head Coach Vance Joseph said.
Because the defense capitalized off the quick start and dominated**
A good start. No turnovers. A two-score lead. This put the defense in the position from which it best operates: where it can attack without being under pressure to try and force big plays.
"Oh, it's huge. It's a whole different ballgame," defensive end Adam Gotsis said. "You play from behind, you play from ahead, they're two way different things."
The defense held the Jets to a meager 41 net passing yards on 25 pass plays -- an average of just 1.64 yards that is the lowest for a single game in the NFL this season.
Because Cody Latimer and Demaryius Thomas were able to make good adjustments on the football**
The Broncos' two longest plays of the first half came when Latimer and Thomas successfully got under passes that Trevor Siemian threw downfield. Latimer made the first play, turning back for a 27-yard reception that set up the Brandon McManus field goal that put the Broncos in front to stay on their first possession.
One series later, after the Broncos took over at the New York 20-yard line following Marshall's forced fumble, Siemian hit Thomas for a touchdown that allowed the Broncos to maximize the takeaway. Thomas made a perfect brake on the football, overcoming pass interference from Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne for the score. It was Thomas' first touchdown reception from Siemian this season.
"Heck of a catch," Siemian said.
Thomas finished with 93 yards on eight receptions. Six of his eight catches went for first downs.
Because the Broncos were able to convert third downs**
One week after going 1-of-13 on third downs in a 35-9 loss at Miami, the Broncos were able to use third-down conversions to help control the tempo and extend drives.
Denver converted six of its first 12 third-down attempts in the first through third quarters before going 1-of-its-last-5 after it had already built the final margin of 23-0.
Meanwhile, the Jets, who converted 13 of 20 third downs last week, went just 3-of-13 on third downs and mustered just six first downs, including only one first down from 25 passing plays.
Photos from game action against the Jets in Week 14 of the 2017 season. (Photos by Gabriel Christus unless noted)