Rapid Reaction: Denver Broncos
October, 13, 2013
By Jeff Legwold | ESPN.com
DENVER -- A few thoughts on the Denver Broncos' 35-19 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars:
What it means: The Broncos talked all week about not letting point spreads and the Jaguars' winless ways get to them. Then they went out and played like it all got into their heads. The Broncos will speak of the Jaguars’ effort -- and first-year coach Gus Bradley certainly should receive plenty of kudos for the kind of effort his now 0-6 team put in -- but the Broncos were not themselves Sunday and it almost cost them.
Stock watch: When the Broncos selected Malik Jackson in the fifth round of the 2012 draft, they were hoping to get a swing player who could fill in on a situational basis at both defensive tackle and defensive end. Jackson has since carved out more and more playing time because he just gets it done. Playing for the injured Robert Ayers Sunday, at defensive end, Jackson had one three-play span in the third quarter when he had two sacks to go with a tackle for loss on a running play.
Out of sorts: Right from the start the Broncos could not find a rhythm. And while they escaped with a win, the struggles impacted even quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny in the second quarter. Manning dropped a low shotgun snap in the fourth quarter that the Jaguars recovered. Manning and center Manny Ramirez also combined for another fumbled snap in the first half. Couple all that with a return to Indianapolis set for next Sunday, and Manning doesn’t figure to be in the best of moods this week.
More special-ness: The Broncos have consistently made plays on special teams this season, including two blocked punts and two touchdown returns by Trindon Holliday over the season’s first four weeks. Add Sunday’s win to the list when Jeff Rodgers' group added a well-timed fake punt -- safety David Bruton took a direct snap for 35 yards on the second-to-last play of the third quarter. The Broncos scored to end that possession and scored on their next possession as well to finally break things open a bit.
What’s next: Get out the three rings, because it will be a circus this week in Denver. Linebacker Von Miller returns Monday from a six-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and Manning will be preparing for his first game in Indianapolis since the Colts released him following the 2011 season.