Secondary faces challenges

In the past, the Broncos have gone into Indianapolis and been picked apart by Peyton Manning. This time, Denver hopes its secondary is better equipped to meet the challenge.

Denver's veteran secondary will get its toughest test this week against the undefeated Colts. All of the Broncos starters are at least 30 years old, so they won't be fooled by Manning.

The Broncos' secondary is coming off a great game against Kansas City, which should give Denver some added confidence. Denver flustered Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel the entire game in a 44-13 win, forcing him into numerous bad throws. Cassel completed 10 of 29 passes for 84 yards before being benched late in the third quarter.

"I think Coach (Josh McDaniels) did a great job with the game plan to have (Cassel) confused," cornerback Andre Goodman said. "He was holding the ball a lot and wasn't sure what he was seeing."

Goodman did a good job in coverage and his interception of Cassel in the third quarter was a turning point in the game. Cornerback Champ Bailey, who has been shadowing the opponent's best receiver for the past few weeks, drew Chris Chambers in coverage and almost shut him out. Chambers had two catches for 11 yards. Bailey will probably shadow Reggie Wayne this week.

Denver's safeties also played well. Renaldo Hill had an interception and Brian Dawkins played his typical physical game, especially on a stuff of Jamaal Charles on first-and-goal at the 1-yard line to start the second quarter.

The Broncos have played the pass well most of the season, and a lot of credit goes to the pass rush. The Broncos need to get some pressure on Manning, as they did against Cassel. Elvis Dumervil, who has 15 sacks this season, will be a key for the Broncos' defense.

"When our rush is giving some pressure, our guys have done a nice job of covering for the most part this year," McDaniels said.

TRENDING: The Broncos seem to be over the midseason slump their running game went through. Denver ran the ball 45 times for 245 yards against the Chiefs, gashing them often with either Knowshon Moreno or Correll Buckhalter. Buckhalter has emerged as a big-play threat for the Broncos, even at age 31. He had 113 yards on 12 carries against the Chiefs. Moreno has been solid for the past month, and he had two touchdowns against Kansas City. Broncos coach Josh McDaniels wants to run the ball more in December, and the team appears ready and able to do that.

LINEUP WATCH: The Broncos played most of November without standout right tackle Ryan Harris, and might have to go on without him for a while longer. Harris was knocked out of Sunday's game in the first quarter with a foot injury that is unrelated to the toe injury that caused him to miss four starts. Tyler Polumbus replaced him at right tackle. Polumbus has shown he can be a competent fill-in, but it is tough to replace the underrated Harris. Harris was looked at by trainers for a while on the bench before being carted off to the locker room, although the Broncos offered no prognosis on how long he might miss.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES --RB Knowshon Moreno is getting a chance to be Denver's short-yardage back. He had a 2-yard touchdown against the Chiefs and his 18-yard touchdown run came on a fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter.

--WR Brandon Marshall had a good game against Kansas City, considering the Broncos didn't pass the ball that often. Marshall had seven catches for 94 yards. As a team, the Broncos had 15 receptions and 180 yards.

--TE Daniel Graham caught a couple of passes against the Chiefs, including a touchdown. He had more plays drawn up for him with Ryan Harris coming back to the starting lineup, but if Harris misses time Graham's main role could be to stay in and help block.

--LB Elvis Dumervil got his 15th sack against Kansas City. Of his 15 sacks, 10 have come on third down. He is one third-down sack away from tying Tim Harris' record for sacks on third down in a season.

--RB Peyton Hillis was active over a healthy LaMont Jordan. Hillis got some carries late in a blowout and ran hard, picking up 47 yards on seven carries.



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