Denver Broncos: 2013 Week 13 Upon Further Review

Upon Further Review: Broncos Week 13

December, 2, 2013
12/02/13
8:00
AM ET
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – An examination of four hot issues from the Denver Broncos35-28 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

[+] EnlargeMontee Ball
John Rieger/USA TODAY SportsMontee Ball's Denver teammates say that they were impressed with the running back's development in 2013.
Double dip: The Broncos had hoped the light would go on for rookie running back Montee Ball sooner rather than later, and he would hang on to the ball and show the instincts in traffic that pushed him up their draft board in April. Sunday may have well been that game, as Ball rushed for 117 yards on 13 carries against the Chiefs' aggressive front seven for his first career 100-yard game. The Broncos want to use more of a rotational system, with Knowshon Moreno as the No. 1 option, but they needed a second running back to step forward. Ball may have just done that.

Man up: Quarterback Peyton Manning sent a message, again, to those who might hope to lock up the Broncos' offense with a heavy dose of man coverage to go with pressure packages up front. With the Chiefs largely double-teaming Wes Welker -- because injured tight end Julius Thomas was not in the lineup -- Manning feasted on one-on-one matchups elsewhere in the formation. Eric Decker finished with 174 receiving yards and four touchdowns and Demaryius Thomas, who suffered a shoulder injury on his first catch of the game and at times was playing almost one-handed, had 106 yards on three receptions. Manning had four completions of at least 40 yards.

Level-headed: In a noisy environment that has rattled more than one visiting team this season, the Broncos' offensive line kept its composure, even as Manning went through his usual presnap work at the line of scrimmage. The Broncos’ front did not have a false-start penalty. The team's one false start came courtesy of Moreno, with four minutes left in the game. Left tackle Chris Clark did have an illegal-shift penalty on that same drive, but overall it was a disciplined performance from the offensive line, which did not surrender a sack to the Chiefs. It was the fifth game this season in which Manning had not been sacked.

More special-ness: Returner Trindon Holliday left Sunday’s game with a right shoulder injury, and some of the team's potential in the return game left with him. But it's clear the Broncos have some other special teams issues to clean up. Knile Davis’ 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter was the longest in Chiefs history and was the longest kickoff return surrendered by the Broncos in their history. The Broncos opened the season strong on special teams, with two blocked punts and two return scores in the first four games. But injuries have eroded the rotation on those units somewhat, and the returners, including Holliday, haven’t had nearly the impact over the last eight games. Couple that with the gaffe in overtime against New England that led to the Patriots' game-winning field goal and Davis’ return Sunday, and it’s clear the Broncos need a little more from their special teamers all around.

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