The Broncos did what they normally don’t do – they beat a quality team in the Dolphins on Sunday. Denver did a good job of controlling this game and came out victorious by a score of 20-13 at Empower Field at Mile High.
It took both sides of the ball working together to get this win. Unlike beating a bad team like the Jets, or a choking team like the Chargers, this win was over a good team. The offense did what it needed to do to score and keep the defense fresh by extending drives. The defense went after the quarterback and did their best to stunt what the Dolphins were trying to do on offense.
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio loved the effort from his defense – and the rest of the team.
“I thought our defense played well, for the most part. Even after we threw the early interception, they had to work hard on that short field to get it in there. We had a bunch of three-and-outs. We had a good day on third down I believe for the most part. Justin (Simmons) came up big there at the end. We had the six sacks. A lot of them were kind of late, meaning late in the down to where I think our coverage was good. I’m just really proud of the entire team,” Fangio said.
What would it take for the Broncos to build momentum after this victory? They’re getting another young quarterback next week in Taysom Hill and the Saints. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look back at the good, the bad and the ugly from the Week 11 win.
The Broncos are better when they stop the run. Teams had been wearing out the Broncos defense by running the ball early and often against them. Players like Troymaine Pope, Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley, Josh Jacobs and Devontae Booker all had great success against the Broncos on the ground. Only one of those players (Jacobs) is a legit star in the NFL, showing how weak the Broncos run defense has been.
It wasn’t always like that. When nose tackle Mike Purcell was healthy, the Broncos were tough to run against because he’s basically immovable in the middle of the defensive line. Once Purcell was lost for the season due to an injury suffered against the Chiefs in Week 7, the Broncos have been suspect against the run.
Against Dolphins running backs Salvon Ahmed and Matt Breida, the Broncos only allowed 47 yards rushing on 14 carries between the two. The ability to stuff the run put more pressure on the Dolphins rookie quarterback and helped the Broncos garner the victory.
Dolphins head coach Brian Flores had nothing but good things to say about the Broncos defense and what they were able to do against his team on Sunday.
“We knew this all week. That’s a good defense. Vic Fangio is a top defensive mind in the game. They’ve got good players, they had good scheme, they pressured us, they mixed the coverages and they did a good job defensively. We’ve got to execute better. We had some opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of them. We’ve got to play better,” Flores said.
Melvin Gordon continues to fumble the ball – sometimes (like Sunday) at key times during the game. It’s a major flaw to his game, and one the Broncos need to think about when they’re trying to close out a game. Gordon is tied for the lead league for fumbles lost this season, and he almost fumbled the game away on Sunday.
As the Broncos were driving to put the game away, Gordon burst through the line of scrimmage and ended up falling just short of the end zone. Instead of having a first down at the 1-yard line, Gordon fumbled the rock and allowed the Dolphins to get the ball back. They had to drive 99 yards and were down by seven points, but the Dolphins almost made the miraculous comeback against the Broncos.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Dolphins down the field with quick passing and put the team into scoring position. As he targeted star wide receiver DeVante Parker in the end zone for the tying score, safety Justin Simmons swooped in and ended the game with an interception.
After the game, Gordon said he was relieved that the interception by Simmons let him off the hook for his fumble.
“I was happy as hell. It was crazy because it’s something I work on every week, something I think about, and something I try to be really cautious about. It’s cool to enter the game and pretty much score, and to have that taken away from you sucks. The defense came through, and we prevailed and got the win. I’m happy about that,” Gordon said.
The pass rush for the Broncos made rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa look bad. The rookie first-round quarterback was undefeated as the team’s starter and he only had one turnover – a lost fumble on his first snap – in his short pro career. Tagovailoa took over for Ryan Fitzpatrick and kept the team undefeated for a five-game win streak.
Pressure is the name of the game in the NFL, and Tagovailoa was barely pressured in previous games. The talented former Alabama quarterback had only seen pressure about 18 percent of the time leading into this Broncos game. That all changed against Denver as Tagovailoa was pressured on nearly 60 percent of his snaps.
Tagovailoa was sacked six times and harassed all day long. The Dolphins ended up pulling him in the fourth quarter, which almost helped them come back. Fangio is known for crafting a swarming defense this year and that was part of the plan on Sunday. He had a 17-8 record against rookie quarterbacks in his coaching career, and now is 18-8 after securing the victory against Tagovailoa.
Fangio revealed that his defense was fired up to play a rookie quarterback and took that edge to the field against the Dolphins.
“We were thinking to be a little more aggressive than we actually were. We did pressure some more but if you asked me before the game, I was planning on doing it even more than we did. Some of the situations didn’t come up and they beat us in a few of them, so I had to pull back a little bit to still be able to get some pressure.” Fangio said.
- What should the Broncos offer the Texans for DeShaun Watson?
- Philip Rivers was the greatest villain the Broncos have ever known
- Coach Karl's Corner: Three keys to the Nuggets upcoming road trip
- Shrine Bowl running backs that the Broncos should have interest in
- 60 Seconds: Congrats to ex-Broncos HC Gary Kubiak on his retirement
- Elevator Pitch: Broncos would be 'intriguing spot' for Deshaun Watson