After hearing the clang of the ball hitting the goal post in the overtime period of Sunday night's game, Broncos Country's collective heart was momentarily lifted, as a tie was going to seemingly be salvaged from a hard-fought struggle between two bitter Division rivals.
That moment of relief would be short-lived, as the Cairo Santos attempt would still find a way to squirt through the uprights and send the Chiefs back to Kansas City with a huge win, while at the same time sending the Denver Broncos tumbling down in the AFC West standings.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1733164-film-room-is-denver-s-def... The Broncos managed to do so many things right to win that ball game. They plugged some of the leaky holes they had developed defending the rush, holding the Chiefs to just 86 yards on the ground. They gave Alex Smith a case of the happy feet, harassing him into just 190 yards throwing the ball, while bringing him down six times.
The Broncos ran more offensive plays than the Chiefs, totaling an un-Bronco like 464 yards and put 27 points on the board. In summation, they did everything but win the game.
Losses like this sting but there were several positives that came out of the loss on Sunday night.
Siemian’s Coming of Age
A short time ago, I wrote that Trevor Siemian needed to play well to give Denver any chance of winning on Sunday night and that he would need to avoid committing any of the mental errors he's ran into this season. He couldn't afford to stare down receivers or throw easy jump balls for defenders to pick off.
It was a safe-bet ]that if Siemian could be an effective “game-manager” the Broncos would be playing playoff ball come January.
In those nail-biting moments where the offense was put on his shoulders, Siemian played his best game to date. The most tantalizing development was when the young quarterback made plays on the money down.
Big throws to Jordan Taylor for a score, tight end A.J. Derby deep in Denver territory and a Bennie Fowler touchdown were all third down plays where Simian stood tall behind his beleaguered offensive line and delivered. It was a display of the potential Siemian has in him.
If he can consistently produce like he did in Week 12, watch out!
Aggressive Play Calling
It’s important to note that Head Coach Gary Kubiak isn’t running the same true West Coast Offense variant that he has been connected with in past years, but rather a hybrid to keep up with the changing pace of the offensive game in the NFL today.
Elements like designed roll-outs or the famed zone blocking scheme he has employed in the past haven’t been seen much in his offensive repertoire as of late.
Too often this season, Kubiak has tried to protect the offense, whether it be through simpler passing routes for Siemian to read, or by pounding the proverbial head into the wall with infrequent two and three-yard runs that accomplish little.
It was the same players, but a different story by the offense in the second half in which they forced the issue continually. Even sending out kicker Brandon McManus to kick a 62-yard field goal in overtime shows Kubiak's commitment to going after the win and not settling for the defense to come up with a stop to bail them out like in games past. John Elway took notice.
There was more of a commitment to running the ball and while it didn’t always look pretty, the Denver brain trust finally figured out that 3rd-&-4’s are easier to convert than 3rd-&-9’s. They weren’t so conservative that they felt they had to throw short of the sticks on third down either.
They still took shots down the field, some of which were with the Broncos in the lead. All things Kubiak has become consistent with in regards to his play-calling these past two seasons, he finally went away from on Sunday and it paid off.
If they can replicate this in key games against New England and Oakland, the Broncos have a great chance at winning both contests.
If the defending Super Bowl Champs have looked weary lately from taking the opposing team's best punches, it didn’t show on Sunday night, as they battled back from 9-0 and 16-10 deficits. Through 12 penalties and special teams miscues that put them behind the eight-ball early, this team showed on numerous occasions that it still has the championship pedigree to claw its way back and put itself in a position to win the game late.
This loss was a punch to the gut. Losing a key divisional game and getting knocked out of the playoff picture for the time being hurts, but there were several good things that came out of it. It's been said that more can be learned from a loss than from a win.
One of the biggest lessons that needs to be learned by this team is that mistakes in the small details of the game — like penalties or the underappreciated punt and kick coverage units — can have huge ramifications on the outcome of a game. Against a team that thrives on turnovers like the Chiefs, Denver could ill afford to beat itself and it played out that way in Kansas City’s favor.
Denver figures to be favored vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road this coming Sunday. Although it took the Orange and Blue a full two quarters to find their rhythm in Week 12, once it got going there wasn’t much that Kansas City offered in resistance.
Denver learned much about itself on Sunday. The loss proved that with just a few tweaks, this is still a formidable team and challenge for any opponent they encounter in these next five games.
Adam Uribes is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @auribes37.
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