Higher Power Aiding The Broncos?

Is there more to the story than just the power of Tim Tebow? A look at the recent success of the Broncos would indicate there really is more to the story than the galvanizing QB.

Higher power -- altitude -- aiding Broncos

   Matt Prater was trying to explain Denver's latest comeback victory Sunday and was at a loss for words.

   "You can't really explain it," he said. "Maybe you say it is a higher power."

   Or perhaps it's Prater powerful leg at altitude and below that provides a glimpse into the Broncos' current 7-1 run heading into Sunday's home game against New England.

   Over the last three games, Prater has tied the game twice in regulation and hit three 'walk-off' field goals.

   His performance Sunday was a showcase for a kicker who has been the most consistent ever at the longest of distances.

   With a 59-yarder to tie Chicago, then a 51-yarder in OT to win it, Prater is now 12 of 16 (75 percent) in his career from 50-plus. That's the best accuracy rate ever for kickers with at least 10 attempts. Tony Zendejas ranks second at 73.9 percent.

   "I don't ever worry about distance," said Prater, who once nailed a 74-yard field goal with room to spare in training camp. "I just try to hit them straight. That's the big thing."

   For all the talk of quarterback Tim Tebow's clutch qualities, Prater ranks right up there with him. He's now made 28 of 29 career kicks in the fourth quarter and overtime since breaking into the league in 2007. His only miss came in a win at Kansas City from 41 yards on Nov. 13.

   Asked about his confidence level when Prater steps out on the field for a long kick earlier this week, linebacker Wesley Woodyard leaned back in his chair. "I sit back like this," he said with a smile, "and think, 'Prater's the man.'"

   Prater had some difficulties during a four-week stretch beginning with the game at Miami, missing four kicks from the 40-49 range. But over the next three games he would hit all six of his attempts -- including both from those distances.

   Prater last Sunday had put aside an early block by the Bears' Julius Peppers -- the kicker's first miss after 39 straight from under 40 yards -- before his two critical kicks late to beat Chicago.

   "We've kind of got this joke, me and Prater, about who's the best kicker in the league," said Woodyard, Denver's special-teams captain. "When we face a certain kicker that gets all these accolades, Prater will be like, 'I'm better than that guy,' and I'll say, 'I know you are, cap!' It's just that camaraderie we have. He has that with a lot of guys. Everybody believes in him."

   Prater is second in franchise history in field-goal accuracy at 78.1 percent, behind only Jason Elam (80.6).

   He's also produced 110 touchbacks since 2008, most in the NFL.

   "We have great confidence in him, really at any range," coach John Fox said. "There's no doubt his leg strength is a weapon, particularly here at home with the altitude."

Broncos Mindet Changing with Win Streak


   The mindset has changed as much as the standings.

   Seven wins in eight games, many of the comeback variety, has helped the thought process. Sitting atop the AFC West by one game, with tiebreakers also in hand, doesn't hurt, either.

   "I feel like after this win, the guys just want it," wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said Monday, one day after the Broncos improved to 8-5 with an overtime decision over Chicago. "They want to go to the playoffs -- go deeper and deeper every week."

   It's hard to put a finger on whether winning created new-found confidence or if it was the other way around.

   But subtle changes this summer hinted that maybe this might be a different Denver team than the five previous clubs that failed to reach the postseason -- and that it was miles removed from last year's 4-12 debacle as far as camaraderie.

   "This has been probably the most fun I've ever had playing football," kicker Matt Prater said. "Where in the past you kind of feel like you're just going to your job, now it's back to high school football -- where you're playing with all your friends and you've got all their backs and all that stuff."

   Linebacker Wesley Woodyard explained that, without organized training activities due to the NFL's labor unrest, the team had to find a way to get closer as a team. Bonding time, whether in camp practices, or in hotel scenarios with Denver often leaving a day early for games, was taken seriously -- and worked.

   The defense didn't close the ranks, nor did the offense, which may have surfaced last season in small part while things fell apart on the field.

   "There wasn't separation between us," Woodyard said about the mood around last year's team. "But certain situations certain people stick to certain people.

   "This year, everybody is gravitating towards each other. It's weird the connection that linebackers have with offensive linemen -- that hardly ever happens. Little things like that keep our teams closer."

   Woodyard pointed to the Miami trip, which coincided with Tim Tebow's first start at quarterback, as a turning point in that regard. Offensive and defensive players exchanged stories about how they felt about the other side of the ball. The viewpoints were similar, demonstrating how alike the thought process was throughout the roster.

   Players who were once segmented on Denver's roster now go over each other's houses to hang out.

   There are no offense/defense/special teams barriers, helped by the fact, as Woodyard put it, "everybody's genuine."

   "I think somewhere it hit us that football is important, and for us to be successful, we've got to start in the locker room and build those relationships," Woodyard added.

   "Sometimes you have to tear down walls that are there if you want to win. There's going to come situations where you have to depend on that guy, you have to be able to depend on him during the week."

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\r\n","mobileBody":"    Matt Prater was trying to explain Denver's latest comeback victory Sunday and was at a loss for words.    \"You can't really explain it,\" he said. \"Maybe you say it is a higher power.\"    Or perhaps it's Prater powerful leg at altitude and below that provides a glimpse into the Broncos' current 7-1 run heading into Sunday's home game against New England.    Over the last three games, Prater has tied the game twice in regulation and hit three 'walk-off' field goals.    His performance Sunday was a showcase for a kicker who has been the most consistent ever at the longest of distances.    With a 59-yarder to tie Chicago, then a 51-yarder in OT to win it, Prater is now 12 of 16 (75 percent) in his career from 50-plus. That's the best accuracy rate ever for kickers with at least 10 attempts. Tony Zendejas ranks second at 73.9 percent.    \"I don't ever worry about distance,\" said Prater, who once nailed a 74-yard field goal with room to spare in training camp. \"I just try to hit them straight. That's the big thing.\"    For all the talk of quarterback Tim Tebow's clutch qualities, Prater ranks right up there with him. He's now made 28 of 29 career kicks in the fourth quarter and overtime since breaking into the league in 2007. His only miss came in a win at Kansas City from 41 yards on Nov. 13.    Asked about his confidence level when Prater steps out on the field for a long kick earlier this week, linebacker Wesley Woodyard leaned back in his chair. \"I sit back like this,\" he said with a smile, \"and think, 'Prater's the man.'\"    Prater had some difficulties during a four-week stretch beginning with the game at Miami, missing four kicks from the 40-49 range. But over the next three games he would hit all six of his attempts -- including both from those distances.    Prater last Sunday had put aside an early block by the Bears' Julius Peppers -- the kicker's first miss after 39 straight from under 40 yards -- before his two critical kicks late to beat Chicago.    \"We've kind of got this joke, me and Prater, about who's the best kicker in the league,\" said Woodyard, Denver's special-teams captain. \"When we face a certain kicker that gets all these accolades, Prater will be like, 'I'm better than that guy,' and I'll say, 'I know you are, cap!' It's just that camaraderie we have. He has that with a lot of guys. Everybody believes in him.\"    Prater is second in franchise history in field-goal accuracy at 78.1 percent, behind only Jason Elam (80.6).    He's also produced 110 touchbacks since 2008, most in the NFL.    \"We have great confidence in him, really at any range,\" coach John Fox said. \"There's no doubt his leg strength is a weapon, particularly here at home with the altitude.\"    The mindset has changed as much as the standings.    Seven wins in eight games, many of the comeback variety, has helped the thought process. Sitting atop the AFC West by one game, with tiebreakers also in hand, doesn't hurt, either.    \"I feel like after this win, the guys just want it,\" wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said Monday, one day after the Broncos improved to 8-5 with an overtime decision over Chicago. \"They want to go to the playoffs -- go deeper and deeper every week.\"    It's hard to put a finger on whether winning created new-found confidence or if it was the other way around.    But subtle changes this summer hinted that maybe this might be a different Denver team than the five previous clubs that failed to reach the postseason -- and that it was miles removed from last year's 4-12 debacle as far as camaraderie.    \"This has been probably the most fun I've ever had playing football,\" kicker Matt Prater said. \"Where in the past you kind of feel like you're just going to your job, now it's back to high school football -- where you're playing with all your friends and you've got all their backs and all that stuff.\"    Linebacker Wesley Woodyard explained that, without organized training activities due to the NFL's labor unrest, the team had to find a way to get closer as a team. Bonding time, whether in camp practices, or in hotel scenarios with Denver often leaving a day early for games, was taken seriously -- and worked.    The defense didn't close the ranks, nor did the offense, which may have surfaced last season in small part while things fell apart on the field.    \"There wasn't separation between us,\" Woodyard said about the mood around last year's team. \"But certain situations certain people stick to certain people.    \"This year, everybody is gravitating towards each other. It's weird the connection that linebackers have with offensive linemen -- that hardly ever happens. Little things like that keep our teams closer.\"    Woodyard pointed to the Miami trip, which coincided with Tim Tebow's first start at quarterback, as a turning point in that regard. Offensive and defensive players exchanged stories about how they felt about the other side of the ball. The viewpoints were similar, demonstrating how alike the thought process was throughout the roster.    Players who were once segmented on Denver's roster now go over each other's houses to hang out.    There are no offense/defense/special teams barriers, helped by the fact, as Woodyard put it, \"everybody's genuine.\"    \"I think somewhere it hit us that football is important, and for us to be successful, we've got to start in the locker room and build those relationships,\" Woodyard added.    \"Sometimes you have to tear down walls that are there if you want to win. There's going to come situations where you have to depend on that guy, you have to be able to depend on him during the week.\"  Patriots - Broncos Game Thread For more Patriots news follow us via Twitter: Follow @patriotsinsider Or find us on Facebook : Facebook.com/PatriotsInsider ","skipOnMobile":false,"media":[],"dateOverride":"2011-12-17T16:18:00","authorOverride":"TSX","role":"","isPremium":true,"isHotNews":false,"isRumor":false,"syndicationFlag":true,"isClassified":true,"hotNamesLinked":true,"storyImage":"[MEDIA:1003066] ","mainImage":{},"thumbnailImage":"[THUMBNAIL:1003066]","heroImage":{},"authorImage":"","tags":[{"id":"326","name":"UCF"},{"id":"346","name":"Georgia Tech"},{"id":"9790","name":"UCF - Football"},{"id":"9815","name":"Georgia Tech - Football"},{"id":"176","name":"New England Patriots"},{"id":"189","name":"Denver Broncos"},{"id":"Free Agency","name":"Free 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