Arlington, Texas – Maybe we should have seen this kind of Broncos performance coming. A team removes its most visible player and the entire roster raises their performance level, motivated to prove that the season is not over because of their departure.
On second thought, yes right. What happened on Sunday afternoon at Jerry’s World shocked even the most ardent Broncos fan.
The Broncos began the post-Von Miller era with a Thunderbolt-of-a-statement, never going back in a 30–16 victory over the previously one-lost Dallas Cowboys.
It was Teddy Bridgewater, beating Duck Prescott (107.6-73.9 in passer rating). It was Javonte Williams overtook Ezekiel Elliott 111-51. It was 10 catches for Jerry Judy and Tim Patrick in combination, while there were four catches for CD Lamb and Amari Cooper. And it was Broncos coach Vic Fangio, the sage of defensive play-calling, making a nightmare for Dallas offensive play-caller Kellen Moore.
“A ton of excitement in that locker room,” Bridgewater said.
As it should have been. This was the Broncos’ Plan A to AT. Control the clock. Take the shot downfield. And play lights-out defense.
Fangio’s seventh double-digit win was the most impressive of all time during his tenure. It wasn’t the Giants, Jacksonville and Jets earlier this year. It was Dallas in which Prescott came back from a calf injury, playing at home and riding a six-game winning streak.
Consider the win in terms of gravity and impact:
*Broncos offense posted season-best in points, rushing yards (190) and time of possession (41:12). Over the course of three quarters, they beat Dallas 57–28. On defense, the Broncos pitched a shutout until two trash-time touchdowns in which Dallas received his half-yard (145 out of 290).
“The (players) had the right mindset, bought them what we had to do to give them a chance to slow down, and we did more than just slow them down,” Fangio said. “The teams haven’t played right now (Dallas). He is very talented and he can score 35 points in the rest of his games.
*The Broncos, these up-and-down, feast-or-hungry, stack win-or-stack losses are the Broncos, 5-4 and only half a game behind Las Vegas and the Chargers (both 5-3). AFC West. Already this year, the Broncos have won streaks of three and two games and a losing skid in four games. Win at home against Philadelphia on Sunday and they’ll enter their bye week with everything—primarily five AFC West games—in front of them.
“Our mindset never changed,” Bridgewater said. “When we lost those four games, it was like, ‘Hey, we’ve got to find a way to end this losing streak, and now it’s,’ we’ve got to find ways to keep winning.
* The Broncos (plus-10) closed as a double-digit underdog for only the 12th time in 32 years and only the fourth time in the last decade. The Broncos are now 2-10 straight in those games. This, folks, was a monumental upset.
“Everyone said we didn’t beat a team over 500 and (now) we beat a team with one defeat,” Patrick said.
defeat them. handled them. routed them. Pick an adjective for “complete and complete dominance” and it applies.
That didn’t seem possible during the week. The offense was spinning their wheels, nearly giving Washington the win and making everything difficult. The defense saw Miller traded and, minus nose tackle Mike Purcell and outside linebacker Malik Reid, had to slow down the Cowboys.
But on Tuesday the tone was set. General Manager George Patton said Miller’s trade was a step forward, even though he was not giving up on the season. On Wednesday, Fangio said the Broncos were not “surrendering.” And throughout the week, the vibe internally was that Miller’s exit might excite his former teammates.
Everyone pitched in from the hop. Dallas’ first two drives ended with failed fourth-down plays. The Broncos, after an opening-drive three-and-out, hit a touchdown (Gordon three-yard rush), touchdown (Patrick’s 44-yard catch) and field goal (Brandon McManus season-long 53 yards) to take 16-0. Gaya. Halftime Lead.
But this being the Broncos, they were about to slip up and let the Cowboys back into it, right? Around.
At the opening of the third-quarter, Sam Martin’s punt was blocked and the Dallas Broncos were in starting position on the field. But the Cowboys’ Nashon Wright touched football beyond the scramble line, which allowed the Broncos’ Jonas Griffin to recover and give his team a fresh set.
The Broncos took advantage of good luck. Williams gained 30 yards, running through half the population of Fort Worth in the process, setting up a field goal and a three-possession lead (19–0).
The second largest crowd (93,503) watched a Broncos game either stunned (Dallas fans) or stood up to chant (Broncos fans). Cowboys fans started freaking out long before Dallas scored two touchdowns in the final 4:08.
As the Cowboys dissected their clunker, the Broncos’ locker room could be heard hiding it behind closed doors. He cheered for the offensive linemen, for Williams’ first 100-yard running game and for Prescott’s chasing defense for three hours.
But more work is needed. too much work. Fangio didn’t want anyone to look away and get carried away.
“We are 5-4,” he said. “The bar has to reach 6-4.”