Denver out to avoid being on wrong side of history
Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels and a handful of his players
were members of the New England Patriots when they set the NFL
record with 21 straight regular season wins last year.
So, they must have added incentive to deny Indianapolis the
record Sunday when the resurgent Denver Broncos (8-4) visit the
steamrolling Colts (12-0), right?
McDaniels insists the only reason he wants to win is because it
will put the Broncos closer to ending a three-year playoff
But he certainly wouldn’t mind carrying the banner for his
friends back in Foxborough, Mass.
“I mean, my big focus this week is beating them because it will
mean we’re 9-4. And I think that’s the most important thing for me,
for our team,” McDaniels insisted.
“If in some way it can derail history, then it is what it
The Broncos have busted out of their slump with back-to-back
wins over the Giants and Chiefs, whom they outscored by a combined
70-19. Those wins vaulted them to the top of the wild card race in
the AFC, where they’re looking down on the likes of Baltimore and
Pittsburgh, two teams that manhandled them a month ago.
So, the team that shows up at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday should
have a bit of a swagger.
It just won’t match Indy’s strut.
In extolling the Colts’ many talents Monday, McDaniels painted a
picture that even the most die-hard of Broncos fans will have a
hard time sifting through to find slivers of hope.
“This is a very talented team that doesn’t make mistakes, very
well-coached, great organization,” McDaniels began. “I’ve had an
opportunity to play against them a number of times at New England
and it’s always been a great challenge to get ready for them.”
Where to start?
“The offense of Peyton Manning and their ability to throw the
ball and score a lot of points certainly poses a huge challenge,”
McDaniels said. “Defensively, I think they’re leading the league
in points allowed. They get to the quarterback.”
McDaniels saved his most effusive praise for the Colts’ special
“They’re fast. They do a great job of kicking the ball. They
return the ball well. They cover well. They got great speed,” he
said. “This is to me the ultimate complementary football team.
They get ahead of you, and then they send the rushers at you. And
they don’t give up many big plays on defense, which forces you to
go a long distance and run a lot of plays to score on them.”
Controlling the clock is no antidote, either.
Consider, on Sept. 21, Manning spent most of the night on the
sideline but made the most of his chances in leading the Colts to a
27-23 win at Miami. The Colts had the ball for only 14:53, the
lowest time of possession for a winning team in the NFL since 1977.
They ran 35 plays to 84 for the Dolphins.
“It doesn’t take them long to make big plays,” McDaniels
And in this era of parity, the Colts are a throwback to a time
when the NFL was like college football, where the rich get
“They have one of the best receivers in all of football in
Reggie Wayne. They have one of the best tight ends in football in
Dallas Clark. They have one the best quarterbacks in football in
Peyton Manning. I could go on and on,” McDaniels said. “And
they’re not even playing with (injured safety) Bob Sanders.”
The Broncos wouldn’t seem to have a chance against such a
Then again, who thought back in the summer that the Broncos
would go 6-0? Or have a shot at 12-4?
“We’re peaking at the right time,” running back Correll
Buckhalter said after rumbling for 113 yards on just a dozen
carries in the Broncos’ 44-13 whipping of the Chiefs at Kansas City
on Sunday. “You want to start peaking in December in order to have
a chance to do it in the playoffs, and that’s what we’re
Rookie Knowshon Moreno, who scored twice Sunday, has averaged 90
yards on the ground over the last month, finally putting up numbers
befitting the top running back selected in the NFL draft.
“That two-headed monster in the backfield, they are running
pretty hard,” receiver Brandon Marshall said. The Broncos piled up
245 yards on the ground at Kansas City and also scored four TDs in
six trips inside the 20, which has been their Achilles’ heel all
Will the good vibes resonate into next week?
“Well, I hope so,” quarterback Kyle Orton said. “That’s two
good weeks in a row that we’ve put it together on offense. I think
as a team, we played well for two weeks in a row and hopefully we
can continue that momentum.”
Against a team that hasn’t had a bad day itself in a long, long