Welcome home, Brock Osweiler. The crown jewel of the Houston Texans free-agency haul played like a man who was anxiously trying to funnel his stolen $72 million into several offshore bank accounts. The Denver Broncos, playing the role of the embattled FBI agent, were hot on the trail and brought the hammer down on the quarterback and his many accomplices to the tune of 27-9.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1719434-get-si-subscription-with-... In the 11-day break in between games, Denver had a lengthy to-do list for snapping their two-game losing streak, and they checked off almost every item. Specifically, they ran the ball, controlled the clock, protected the quarterback, and got after the opposing passer.
Ultimately, it resulted in a dream performance for the Broncos. Here's how it all went down;
The talk all week going into this game was about the Broncos wanting to give more touches to their rookie runner, Devontae Booker. They accomplished that goal, and somehow, C.J. Anderson ended up with a game-high 107 yards and a score on just 16 carries.
Offensively, the first quarter looked like as much of a nightmare as the last two games. On the first drive, the Broncos came out passing on their first five plays, and it resulted in a pair of three-and-outs from Trevor Siemian and company. A couple holding penalties from Russell Okung and one from Michael Schofield stifled any potential success.
But then, when Denver switched quarter in the second quarter, it was as if the wind was pushing the offense forward. Emmanuel Sanders got things jump-started with a 15-yard grab and the offense got rolling.
Booker slashed through the middle of the Houston defense, Demaryius Thomas got his hands on the ball, and Anderson capped off a tremendous drive with a seven-yard touchdown run made possible by a great block by Matt Paradis.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1720852-watch-anderson-booker-wee... Even rookie fullback Andy Janovich caught a pass for 12 yards on the drive, a classic bootleg call from Gary Kubiak. Sidenote: if Jon Gruden got his hands on a copy of Madden and found the create-a-player feature, Janovich would be the result. The man is the definition of a Gruden Grinder. Sorry, Ryan Hewitt.
So what did they do when they got the ball back? The exact same thing. Booker ran for carries of eight, 10 and 12 yards as the Broncos bulled their way down the field one more time. To finish it off, Siemian through a tidy four-yard bullet to Demaryius Thomas the near side of the end zone. Suddenly, Denver was up 14-6.
They may have had a chance to make it three straight scores to finish the half, but Kubiak decided to take his foot off of the gas pedal with around 40 seconds at around their own 40-yard line. Had the game been closer, this decision would have been scrutinized. Alas, it will be forgotten.
The offense cooled off when the third quarter rolled around until a big play by the defense jolted life back into the whole team. Denver marched 72 yards down the field on the strength of a 19-yard run from Anderson and a spectacular back-shoulder connection to Sanders. At the goal line, Booker got the ball and he delivered with the first touchdown of his career.
Brandon McManus wrapped things up with a couple of short field goals and the O called it a 27-point, zero-turnover day.
In the end, the story was the running game; Denver's duo of punishing backs combined for 190 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 33 carries. Siemian, who makes a fraction of his counterpart's salary, was economical, throwing for 157 yards and a touchdown on 25 attempts. If not for a drop from DT, it would have looked better.
Brocket Ship Fails to Launch
Having gotten all of the snark and salt out, I'm ready to sincerely break down the performance of one Brock Osweiler.
Okay really, the Texans offense used good field position to their advantage to grab a 6-0 lead after two Nick Novak field goals. They were mostly a result of the running game, including a 25-yard dash from Lamar Miller and a 17-yarder from Alfred Blue, both on draw plays. Each time, Shane Ray overran the play and the Texan backs galloped through the gaping hole.
When the offense finally got cooking, the defense followed suit and began to shut down the Houston offense. Despite being held on what felt like every play, the pass rush, led by Von Miller got to Osweiler on a consistent basis. On the back end of the defense, Chris Harris and Aqib Talib made DeAndre Hopkins and rookie Will Fuller V into non-factors.
They really couldn't find a rhythm until they got the ball back in to begin the third when a 36-yard pass interference penalty by T.J. Ward propelled the Texans into another field goal. At 14-9, they were in striking distance.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1720851-siemian-out-duels-brock-i... Things got a little bit spooky when the Texans regained possession the next time after a short punt by Riley Dixon set them up at their 48. Blue moved the Texans downfield and an impressive scramble by the quarterback got them inside Denver's 35.
Cue Darian Stewart. He made first contact, Ward put his helmet on the ball, and Blue coughed up the rock. Todd Davis was in the right place at the right time and grabbed the loose ball out of mid-air.
The Texans would not score again. Down multiple scores in the fourth, Brock committed an unforced error, letting the ball slide out of his empty hands and into the arms of Harris, Jr. Two fumbles for the Texans. This one set up a Broncos field goal, putting the game on ice.
Osweiler was not sacked and did not throw an interception, but the most damning statistic for him was the telling yards per attempt. Take 131 passing yards and divide it by 41 attempts and you'll come out with 3.19 yards per pass. Even Blaine Gabbert is impressed by that level of inefficiency.
The Broncos defense talked up this game all week, and they came through with a dominating performance. In fact, the whole team acquitted themselves well in a crucial game on Monday Night Football.
John Elway will be smiling from ear-to-ear tonight. His hardball negotiation tactics are going to look like the right move, barring a big-time turnaround by Houston's signal-caller.
Let's keep going into battle with the guys that wanted to be here.
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Will Keys is an Editor for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @WillKeys6.