The Broncos have been quite a surprise story to many this year, and as fans head into two weeks with no Denver Bronco football, here is a recap of the incredible ride the first six games have been.
Week One–@ Cincinnati 12-7 W
What many expected to be an offensive struggle turned out to be a defensive battle between the Broncos and Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium to kick off the season.
Denver led 6-0 most of the game, and they had a really good chance to put the game on ice late in the fourth quarter with a Matt Prater field goal, but Kyle Orton took a sack, foolishly, putting the Broncos out of field goal range.
The sack cost the Broncos in a big way, as the Bengals drove down the field with their two minute offense, and took a 7-6 lead with 38 second remaining.
Then the magic happened.
After Orton missed wide receiver Brandon Marshall on a first down pass, he threw to him again on second down and Cincinnati cornerback Leon Hall leaped in the air to swat the ball away—or so he thought.
Hall’s tipped pass was caught by Brandon Stokley who sprinted to the end zone on a play that has been dubbed “The Immaculate Deflection” to win the game for the Broncos.
The win against the Bengals is the most questioned for the Broncos, but Denver didn’t cheat or win in an unfair way, they just won. Plain and simple, even if it was ugly.
Week Two–vs. Cleveland W 27-6
This game was really over before it started. Denver’s defense was led by a ferocious pass rush, one that saw outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil record four sacks on quarterback Brady Quinn.
Correll Buckhalter, Peyton Hillis, and Tony Scheffler each had a touchdown in Denver’s dominant effort, and the Broncos completed the two game sweep of the state of Ohio.
Week Three–@ Oakland W 23-3
At this point, people still thought the Broncos were just a beneficiary of poor competition, and the smack talk was in full form for the first Raider week of the season.
Correll Buckhalter, Knowshon Moreno, and the Broncos’ running game absolutely thrashed the Raiders, running for a combined 198 yards. Denver controlled the line of scrimmage all game long, and the Broncos’ defense held Oakland to only nine first downs.
The Bronco defense was starting to show its true dominant form, and wide receiver Brandon Marshall caught his first touchdown pass of the season.
Still, the haters were in full form, and the win was not so much credited to the Broncos as it was to the deficiencies of the Oakland Raiders, who did not really stand a chance in this game.
Week Four–vs. Dallas W 17-10
Many figured that Dallas was Denver’s first real test of the season and that the Broncos would be overmatched against a big, athletic Cowboys front line.
After one quarter of play, they appeared to be right.
Dallas led 10-0, and the Broncos were back on their heels as Tony Romo and the Cowboys had the ball back once again and were looking to increase their lead to 17.
On two plays, safety Renaldo Hill sacked and forced a fumble of Romo which was recovered by Denver, and Knowshon Moreno caught one of the more improbable touchdown passes you will see to put the Broncos back in the game with a score of 10-7.
Denver tied the game later on at 10 points apiece, but the drama was not even getting started.
After the two-minute warning, Kyle Orton threw a deep ball to Brandon Marshall who simply went over Terrance Newman to catch the ball, and the whirling dervish himself dashed to the end zone 51 yards to put the Broncos ahead by a touchdown.
On the ensuing Dallas drive, Tony Romo escaped pressure and dumped a pass to Sam Hurd, who took the ball deep into Denver territory.
The Cowboys ended up getting the ball on the Denver two yard line, and Tony Romo tried throwing the ball into one-on-one coverage between Hurd and Denver cornerback Champ Bailey. Needless to say, the Cowboys’ attempts at the end zone failed, and Denver won a nail-biter at home.
Week Five–vs. New England W 20-17 (OT)
Ah, the battle of the “hoodies.”
For the second consecutive week, the Broncos found themselves in a 10-0 rut, and at halftime, the Patriots appeared to be in control with a 17-7 lead.
Brandon Marshall and the Broncos’ defense would not be denied, however, and Denver stormed back to tie the game at 17-all behind a pair of Marshall touchdown catches and a Matt Prater field goal.
The Patriots had the ball with just over two minutes left, and it appeared as though Tom Brady would orchestrate one of his ever so famous fourth quarter comeback drives to win the game, and the Patriots actually made it to about midfield before Brady was sacked for the first time that game by Vonnie Holliday who forced a fumble—which Denver recovered.
The game ended up in overtime, and Kyle Orton did what everyone figured Brady would do, and drove the Broncos down the field on a drive that resulted in a game-winning field goal by Matt Prater.
Week Six–@ San Diego W 34-23
Even though they were 5-0, the Broncos were still not getting much respect from the big boys in the media, so they still had a lot to prove against the Chargers who were absolutely desperate for a victory.
Eddie Royal lit up Qualcomm Stadium with two first-half return touchdowns, one on a kickoff and one on a punt which paced a high-scoring first half of football, which saw the Chargers lead 20-17 going into the break.
Denver’s defense continued its second half dominance, allowing San Diego’s potent offense only three points.
As for the Broncos’ offense, they were led by the arm of Kyle Orton who threw two touchdown passes, one to tight end Tony Scheffler and one to wide receiver Brandon Stokley.
The Denver defense was absolutely suffocating for Philip Rivers, and Elvis Dumervil once again paved the way for a Broncos pass rush that ranks first in the NFL with 21 sacks on the season.
The first six games of the Broncos’ season have been absolutely magical, and this Denver team is the best fans have had since the John Elway days.
Fans are brimming with confidence and players are picking up all kinds of accolades and achievements, and this team is finally getting the respect it deserves after an offseason when so many gave up hope.