Instant reaction from the Broncos’ 24-15 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15 at Empower Field.
Two-minute offense: When they put together the time capsule for the 2022 Broncos season, let’s make sure to include the two-minute period near the end of the first quarter. All the elements were present. The standout defense: Inside linebacker Alex Singleton flying up the middle to pressure Arizona QB Colt McCoy into an errant throw picked off by safety Justin Simmons and returned to the Cardinals’ 24-yard line. The flightless offense: Three plays, four yards gained. The disappointing conclusion: Brandon McManus wide right from 38 yards.
High-wattage: If J.J. Watt scores another big contract in free agency, the Broncos’ makeshift offensive line should at least receive a collection of Chipotle gift cards. They might’ve just made the veteran pass rusher a heck of a lot of money. The first-half stats alone: four tackles, three sacks and one forced fumble. The latter summed up the state of Denver’s super-glue-and-duct-tape pass protection, as Tom Compton, in at right guard for the injured Quinn Meinerz, got blown off the ball by Watt, who then casually swatted the ball out of Brett Rypien’s hand for a strip at midfield. End of the two-minute drive.
Proud to be: The pride of Fort Morgan, Trey McBride, returned to Colorado for the first time as an NFL player Sunday, and delivered his best game as a pro. Granted, it’s been a rough season for the rookie tight end, who entered the game with just 12 receptions for 74 yards. The line from Sunday, with a backup (Colt McCoy) and third-stringer (Trace McSorley) throwing him passes: five targets, four receptions, 55 yards. The Colorado State product also drew a pass interference flag that eventually produced a Matt Prater field goal at the end of the first half. All in all, not a bad day.
Ground and pound: In a game featuring a pair of starting backup quarterbacks, it feels only right that its star would be a running back. Latavius Murray did a little bit of everything en route to 142 total yards Sunday, pounding the ball inside for solid 3- and 4-yard pickups, finding the edge on the outside for chunk yardage and even hauling in a pass for a 12-yard gain. It’s been a rough year for Broncos backs — both with injuries (Javonte Williams ACL) and errors (Melvin Gordon fumbles) — so of course the first 100-yard rushing game of the season came from a running back who started the season with the New Orleans Saints.