The Denver Broncos liked Daniel Graham as an all-around tight end, but knew first and foremost that he had the ability to play well without gathering big stats. Sunday's win over Oakland showed that. Graham caught one pass for nine yards, but Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he might have had the best game of anyone.
"The unsung hero in this game was Daniel Graham," Shanahan said. "He dominated the line of scrimmage."
Graham was a big part of Denver's game plan. He was often moving in motion before the snap to get certain matchups or looks from the defense. He delivered some key blocks, including one where he sent Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha head over heels on the long run by Travis Henry.
Graham is one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL. Denver is first in the NFL in yards gained, in part because of Graham's work on the line of scrimmage. Henry leads the NFL in rushing yards.
"He gave us 60 minutes of unbelievable football," Shanahan said about Graham. "That was one of the best tight end demonstrations I've seen in a long time."
- Dramatic, back-to-back wins had the Broncos thinking about Darrent Williams and Damien Nash, teammates who died this offseason. The players
have done various tributes to the two, and Broncos coach Mike Shanahan
wondered if they were watching over them.
"I think you go back to Darrent and Damien," Shanahan said. "Somebody is pulling for us up there, I know that."
- Shanahan didn't bother saying anything to quarterback Jay Cutler after
either of his interceptions against Oakland. He understood what happened on
each play -- on one, Cutler didn't see a linebacker dropping into zone
coverage and another was tipped at the line of scrimmage -- and didn't feel
the need to berate the second-year quarterback.
"He understands," Cutler said. "I'm young and I might make some mistakes, but I think he trusts me down the line."
- Broncos safety John Lynch was near Shanahan when Oakland was lining up for
a 52-yard field goal in overtime. He heard Shanahan tell an official he was
going to call timeout before the snap, but Shanahan waited until the kicker
and long snapper were set, which made Lynch nervous.
"I'm saying 'All right, do it, do it!' " Lynch said.
Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 52-yard field goal, but the whistle blew before the play because of a timeout. He missed when he had to try it again, and Denver drove for a game-winning score.
PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
- TE Stephen Alexander was re-signed by the Broncos a couple days after he was released. Alexander wasn't going to be able to play because of a calf injury, so the team released him.
- OT Chad Mustard was signed Saturday and cut Monday. With rookie offensive tackle Ryan Harris healing from a back injury, the team needed someone to back up on the offensive line in case of an injury. The Broncos have signed Mustard before a game and cut him afterward twice this season.
- OT Ryan Harris is healing and should be able to return to practice next week, coach Mike Shanahan said. Harris had minor back surgery in training camp
- OG Ben Hamilton is seeing doctors again and might not be ready to practice this week. He is still feeling the effects of a concussion suffered early in camp.
- RB Travis Henry suffered a minor ankle injury, but coach Mike Shanahan said Henry was fine and he shouldn't be limited this week.