The Broncos have been waiting all season for rookie Javonte Williams and veteran Melvin Gordon to do what everyone at Dove Valley had hoped for.
Denver finally saw the Cowboys’ hopes of a 30-16 upset at Arlington come true on Sunday.
The underdog Broncos rushed for 190 yards despite missing three-fifths of their opening offensive line due to injury. Williams ran for 111 yards – his first career game at the century mark – and Gordon added 80 with a touchdown.
“We knew we were due one of these days, and we were waiting on that,” center Lloyd Cushberry said of the run game. “We’re putting in the work, we just had to turn it on… it was good to finally break it.”
Left tackle Garrett Bowles (ankle) was inactive and right tackle Bobby Massey and Graham Glasgow both missed the second half due to ankle injuries. Kelvin Anderson started for Boles, Cam Fleming came in for Messi, and Quinn Meinerz spelled Glasgow after taking Glasgow off the field with an ankle injury in the final game of the first half.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said the offense “didn’t miss a beat” with a backup lineman. The situation was complicated by Neten Muti being unavailable in the COVID-19/reserve list, as Muti, normally Glasgow’s backup, is on right guard.
“It was great to see those guys getting a chance (and capitalizing on),” said quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. “Those guys were having a lot of fun, especially on those run downs when we were getting the ball rolling.”
After recording only 83 rushing yards in his eighth-week win over Washington at home, coach Vic Fangio said he challenged “everyone” on the offensive to increase the output of the run game.
“We had a few different looks (in coverage) in the run game which helped us,” Fangio said. “Once people realize[the speed in the race]there’s a little more umf in his game.”
Controlling the ground game allowed the Broncos to control the clock and, in turn, put the ball out of the hands of quarterback Dak Prescott and the Cowboys’ high-powered offense (NFL-leading 454.9 yards/Sunday entering game). kept. The Broncos dominated possession time, 41:12 to 18:48, and were converting first downs on runs with three or fewer yards for a 7-for-11.
“We hit the ball well, we pushed the ball,” Fangio said. “Playing that offense, we were doing a great job defensively…
The Broncos set a physical tone at the start of the run game after going three-out on a poor opening drive, resulting in a loss of 10 yards. On Denver’s second possession and first TD drive, a pair of runs by Williams covered 31 yards and gave the Broncos their second first. Melvin Gordon also ran a 13-yard run on that drive, culminating in his three-yard touchdown run.
“We got off to a hot start,” Williams said. “When you do that with the run game, (offensive coordinator Pat) Shurmur was able to live with it…. We had a lot of big plays in the run game and it opened up everything.”