The Broncos now have the unified strength of the Horse Force defense and the Orange Stampede offense.
“We’ve become a team,’’ defensive tackle Justin Bannan declared after Sunday’s victory over the Chiefs.
“”We trust in each other,’’ defensive end Elvis Dumervil added.
There was no sound system in the locker room, but linebacker Wesley Woodyard was the human boom box.
“”Don’t stop believin’, hold on to that feelin’ . . . oh-oh-oh-oh,’’ he warbled (off-key).
Never thought I’d hear the sounds of rock group Journey in a Broncos’ locker room.
“Everybody wants a thrill . . . It goes on and on and on and on.’’
Earlier in the season quarterback Peyton Manning said the Broncos were searching for an identity. Well, they’ve found it.
When The Orange Stampede slips and falls, the defense picks up the offense. When The Horse Force lets down, the offense is there to pull it back up. When both units struggle, the special teams score a touchdown. When Matt Prater missed a couple of field goals, as was the case Sunday, the other teams step up and hold on.
Manning, who passed a concussion examination after being slammed to turf when throwing a touchdown pass, was giddy as a kid swimming in chocolate when he emerged from the shower.
“Some may win, some may lose.’’
The Broncos are doing some winning. The Broncos’ winning streak has reached six, including four on the road. They are 4-0 in division play. And they haven’t lost since Oct. 7.
Quasimodo was beautiful only to his mother, and the Broncos’ performance may have been gorgeous only to the players, the coaches and John Elway, who was grinning afterward. But the last time the Broncos had an 8-3 record was 2005 when they advanced to the AFC championship game, and the time before that was when they won their last Super Bowl in 1998.
The view is nice from on high.
The Horse Force did not allow a touchdown for the second time this season. The Orange Stampede came back from a deficit for the sixth time this season and continues to produce when necessary despite a season-low 17 points.
The offense has scored a whopping 124 points in the fourth quarter while the defense has permitted a measly 37 in the final 15 minutes. Both units are in the NFL’s top 10.
Is this the Broncos’ best offense ever? No. Those were the John Elway-Terrell Davis-led offenses. Is this the Broncos’ best defense ever? No. There was the Orange Crush of ’77, and perhaps a couple of others in the ’90s that deserve mention.
Is this best collective group overall? No. There have been six Super Bowl teams.
But are The Horse Force and the Orange Stampede a potential power package? The NFL is beginning to believe.
“We bent, but we didn’t break,’’ said Dumervil. “They got to the red zone three times, but we didn’t let ’em score a touchdown. Everybody’s got everybody’s back out there.’’
Bannan, in his second tour with the Broncos, said the defensive improvement “trickles down from (Jack) Del Rio. We know how tough he was as a player, and that’s reflecting in how we play.’’
Defensive lineman Kevin Vickerson was standing behind Bannan and Dumervil nodding along, and Woodyard was singing along. “We have some things that have to be fixed, (but) we still love ourselves and our defense.’’
Of course, these are the Chiefs, but, as Manning pointed out, “It was a division game on the road, and, defensively, I think (the Chiefs are) better than their record is.’’
As John Fox always says, the Chiefs’ players get paychecks, too. Maybe they shouldn’t. They’re no good.
But here’s the pleasant news: K.C. is the Broncos’ final regular-season opponent. That should be declared the Homecoming Game.
Early on the Broncos seemed blasé on offense, and, against the Broncos’ defense, quarterback Brady Quinn (who we haven’t seen play in a game involving Denver in the past two years), threw accurately (but not long), and Jamaal Charles ran aggressively (but not far on any play).
Manning finished with a couple of touchdown passes and 285 yards, and there was a Knowshon Moreno sighting for 85 yards. But the defense was stout like an Irish beer and kept “applying pressure,’’ Champ Bailey said. The difficult victory, he said, “is going to prepare you for the playoffs.’’
There, he said it: The “p’’ word.
Fox, Elway and owner Pat Bowlen didn’t have a lot to say afterward, but, obviously, visions of sugar plums and the postseason were dancing in their heads with this team, especially when the coach said: “”We had no injuries to report.’’
The journey goes on and on and on and on.
And the Broncos’ Horse Force & Orange Stampede won’t stop believin’.