DENVER (AP) This was the way the Denver Broncos thought they’d play against that other New York team all those months ago.
”This is the kind of game we expected to play against everyone, not just New York,” Shane Ray said after the Broncos snapped their longest losing streak since joining the NFL in 1970 with a 23-0 shutout of the Jets on Sunday. ”Everybody that we play, we should beat them like this. Period. We just haven’t been able to find that formula.”
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Their skid began with a shocking 23-10 loss at home to the then-winless Giants, one of seven double-digit losses during a losing streak that cost offensive coordinator Mike McCoy his job and put rookie head coach Vance Joseph on the hot seat.
It was the Broncos’ first win in 70 days.
”It feels like 100 years,” declared quarterback Trevor Siemian, who hooked up with Demaryius Thomas eight times for 93 yards and a touchdown as the Broncos (4-9) avoided tying their franchise futility record of nine consecutive losses set way back in 1967.
The all-round dominance left Joseph wondering where that team had been.
”Somewhat, but we knew if we played clean football, it could look like that,” Joseph said. ”… Our defense can be a difference if we’re in the football game.”
Of the 480 minutes of game clocking during their eight-game losing streak, the Broncos had led a mere 12 minutes, 36 seconds and they came into the game with 16 more turnovers than takeaways. They were plus-2 Sunday.
The Broncos’ first shutout since Nov. 20, 2005, a 27-0 win over the Jets, was fueled by a defense that held the Jets in check all afternoon.
Coming off a big win over the Chiefs in which they scored 38 points and had over 500 yards of offense, the Jets (5-8) were limited to just 100 yards – 59 on the ground and 41 through the air – by a defense missing injured linemen Domata Peko and Derek Wolfe.
Jets quarterback Josh McCown was knocked from the game twice by hard hits, including a clean shot by Ray in the third quarter that left McCown with a broken left hand and fighting back tears at the postgame podium.
McCown finished just 6 of 12 for 46 yards, and his replacement, Bryce Petty was 2 of 9 for 14 yards.
After Denver’s opening drive resulted in a 31-yard field goal by Brandon McManus, Denver’s defense took over. On the Jets’ third snap of their first possession, linebacker Brandon Marshall sliced through for a strip sack and defensive end Adam Gotsis recovered McCown’s fumble at the Jets 20-yard line.
Two plays later, Siemian hit Thomas for the 20-yard score, giving Denver its first double-digit lead since Oct. 1 against Oakland, the date of their last victory.
McManus added a 53-yarder just before halftime that gave the Broncos a 13-0 lead heading into the locker room, and fullback Andy Janovich bulled his way in from the 1 to make it 20-0 before McManus capped the scoring with a 40-yard field goal.
”I don’t know what happened,” Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins said after catching just one pass for a single yard. ”This week, we were the worst offense. We played terrible. We didn’t do our jobs. It was embarrassing, frustrating and it’s on all of us. I don’t know what to say.”
Down the hallway, the Broncos finally had something to celebrate.
”It’s been a long time coming,” Aqib Talib said. ”We were due for a win. We ain’t THAT bad.”
MOVIN’ ON UP: Thomas’ TD catch was the 56th of his career, surpassing Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe for second in franchise history. Wide receiver Rod Smith’s 68 TD receptions are the most all-time.
”I challenged our guys last night, all of our team leaders to play better football. And he came out and he played inspired football,” Joseph said of Thomas, who received a game ball, as did the entire defense.
TERRIFIC TAYLOR: The Broncos finally benched rookie punt returner Isaiah McKenzie for good after he returned from his first benching last week only to fumble for the sixth time, this one for a safety in a loss at Miami.
So, they went back to Jordan Taylor, who had done nothing wrong for two weeks to get supplanted by McKenzie, and he rewarded them by returning five punts for 62 yards Sunday, an average of 12.4 yards.
That helped give the Broncos great field position all afternoon.
”Aside from D.T., Jordan Taylor’s the MVP of the game,” Siemian said.
INJURIES: Jets running back Elijah McGuire (ankle) and long snapper Thomas Hennessy (head) were knocked out of the game in the first half.
The Broncos lost starting safety Justin Simmons to an ankle injury in the first quarter and he was replaced by Will Parks. Inside linebacker Todd Davis was evaluated for a possible concussion in the fourth quarter, and safety Jamal Carter (left shoulder) also was knocked from the game.
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