Broncos riding high but have some blemishes, too
"I was really proud of that last drive," Manning said. "I thought that was really something special. Probably more of a line coach's dream. Probably not exciting for anybody doing fantasy (football)."
The Broncos have been emphasizing a better ground game for December, when weather becomes more of a factor but also because it will keep Manning's play-action effective and his jersey clean.
Moreno has made the most of his promotion from the scout team to the starting lineup these last three weeks following Willis McGahee's knee injury that landed him on IR. The Broncos are averaging more carries (31 to 27) and more yards (109 to 105) and their first downs rushing per game (6.3) are exactly the same as when McGahee was in the lineup.
It doesn't always look pretty, though. Plenty of times, Manning has to tell Moreno where to line up — or even grab him by the jersey and shove him from one side to the other.
"I've got to give him a lot of credit. He's been running the service team, scout team, for the majority of the season. All of a sudden he steps right in, our offense is evolving each week, we're putting new stuff in, changing things and he's virtually had to learn on the run," Manning said. "So, when you're in the no-huddle, you can tell him what to do, he's not sure. I just say, 'Knowshon, ask me, make sure we're on the same page.'"
Denver's defense has had its issues, too. The Broncos gave up pass plays of 58 and 56 yards Thursday night, the latter one for a catch-and-run touchdown toss from Carson Palmer to Darrius Heyward-Bey. This after allowing Tampa Bay to score 10 fourth-quarter points to turn a 31-13 lead into a ballgame.
"We'd like to put together four perfect quarters, but we've got some fighters in this room," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "I'm proud of what we've done up to this point but we obviously have to look back and see how much better we can be. When we do that as a group, the sky's the limit for us."
Players had Friday off after two physical games four days apart. Some came in for treatment like Thomas, who caught five passes for 83 yards despite jamming his right shoulder just before halftime.
"He's being evaluated. It doesn't appear to be anything real serious. Hopefully, he'll be ready Monday when we reconvene," Fox said.
The Broncos have their share of thirty-something veterans who can sure use the extra rest, Manning said.
"I think the guys are tired. You use these next three days to get your mental rest, your physical rest and to get recharged," he said. "We've been on a pretty good run. We have some guys pretty beat up and mentally drained, as well."
Notes: The Broncos' winning streak is the fourth-longest in franchise history. ... Miller is one sack shy of Elvis Dumervil's club single-season record of 17 set in 2009. ... Miller and Dumervil each have forced six fumbles, tying Dennis Smith's club record set in 1989.
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