DENVER — The Denver Broncos 4-9 record blatantly suggests they simply aren’t a good football team.
In 13 contests, nine teams have proven to be superior than the team from the Mile High City.
Sunday, however, painted a significantly different picture: The Broncos’ biggest opponent all season hasn’t been who’s lined up against them. It’s been the team that’s donned Orange & Blue.
Ever since the team put on pads for the first time in the dog days of summer during training camp, the “winning formula” that’s been preached from head coach Vance Joseph on down the line has been simple: Play clean football, get a lead and the rest will fall into place.
Through the first 75 percent of the season, however, that’s been much easier said than done as they closed out the first three quarters of the season at a dismal 3-9.
For the first time Since Week 4, the Broncos strayed from their losing ways, followed their “winning formula” and the results trickled in just as they drew it up.
“We knew if we played clean football, it could look like that,” Joseph said with a genuine smile after the team’s 23-0 win on a beautiful Sunday afternoon over the New York Jets. “Obviously, today we were plus-two in turnovers, that’s huge. Good field position. Our average start was 41; theirs was 20. So it’s really a flip game of what we’ve seen the last two months.”
Up until Sunday, it had been 70 days since the 2015 Super Bowl Champions last got a glimpse of how sweet a win tasted, thanks in large part to them simply not beating themselves.
Entering Week 14, their minus-16 turnover differential was the second-worst in the league, only to the 0-13 Cleveland Browns. In the victorious blowout to the Jets, they did what they’ve only done one other time this season: Win the turnover battle.
“The difference is, we didn’t turn the ball over,” Joseph said on how his team broke their eight-game losing streak. “Our plan was to run the ball efficiently on first and second down and to keep the third downs manageable. If not, punt the ball back. It’s the formula we set out to accomplish, and it worked. It worked perfectly.”
For a team built on defense, the message to the offense was the same it’s been all season: Punts are A-okay, or more simply put, don’t lose the game like they’ve been accustomed to the past eight games.
“When you don’t turn the ball over, our games can look just like that,” Joseph stated with authority as his formula came through for a win. “Because our defense can be a difference in the football game.”
Saying Denver’s defense was a difference in the football game would be a massive understatement. Against the Jets, not only did the Broncos’ pitch a shoutout, they held New York to 100 yards of offense for the entire game.
Through the first two possessions, the Jets had minus-14 yards of offense. In their four possessions of the first half—not including their kneel-down right before halftime—New York’s drive chart read: Fumble, punt, interception, punt. On the game, the Jets had more three-and-outs (eight) than first downs (six).
“Very proud of those guys to have a shutout. Our first in 12 years here,” Joseph said with enthusiasm. “It speaks to our defense. If we can get a lead, we can be the difference in a football game… So it speaks to what we can be if we play clean football.”
While the entire defense got a game ball for the magnificent performance, it was the mistake-free offense that was at the helm of the Broncos’ winning formula to deliver them their fourth win of the season.