Coming off of a game that saw the lowest offensive output in the Peyton Manning era, the Denver Broncos desperately needed a statement win in their contest against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. After three quarters, it looked like such a result would escape them.
Down 28-17 entering the fourth quarter, the Broncos would reach down deep, and rattle off 22 unanswered points. For their first score of the final frame, a key play would come on fourth-and-two, when Manning and the offense would audible to a C.J. Anderson run; gaining 20, and keeping the drive alive.
“To tell you the truth, (Offensive Coordinator) Adam (Gase) made the change,” said Manning, who threw for 257 yards and four touchdowns. “We got to the line of scrimmage pretty early and we had time on the clock and so Adam actually made the change from the sideline.
Anderson would finish the game with 167 yards on the game, but none were bigger than those 20. A key factor on the play was the blocking of tight end Virgil Green, who returned to the lineup after missing the past several games with injury. The momentum gained would not be wasted either; as Demaryius Thomas cap off the drive with a touchdown. Manning would then hit Emmanuel Sanders for a two-point conversion.
The Broncos receiving duo has been on a tear as of late. Thomas would finish the game with 10 catches for 87 yards and three touchdowns. After being forced to leave last week’s contest against the Rams with a concussion, Sanders looked fully recovered, catching nine balls for 125 yards; eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark in a season for the first time in his career.
Anderson and Wes Welker would also score in the frame, building a lead for the Broncos. Jarvis Landry would score late for the Dolphins; but the Broncos saw through the tomfoolery of the ensuing onside kick attempt, holding on for a 39-36 victory.
“These are the games you remember most,” said Sanders. When you battle back, not blowing out a team, but when you battle back from a deficit and conquer.”
As much confidence as a hard-fought win like this, it may not have spread to team kicker Brandon McManus. A 33-yard attempt rang off of the post in the third quarter. The 23-year-old is now nine-for-13 on the season, with many of his misses finding iron.
“It’s completely inexcusable,” said McManus. “I was mad at myself after that miss because I knew I had to stay in it because of the game situation we were in. I know my capabilities. I hit the first one good, and I needed to make the second one.”