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2011 Season Review: Third Quarter

Posted Feb 8, 2012

In the third installment of DenverBroncos.com's four-part series looking back at the 2011 season, the Broncos went a perfect 4-0 during Weeks 10-13.


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Earlier in the season, Head Coach John Fox said that he would like to see the team go 3-1 in each quarter of the season. After the Broncos swept games 9-12, the coach said he’d happily take that result as well.

“[Going 4-0 this quarter of the schedule], I think it was big,” Fox said after the team’s Week 13 win at Minnesota. “We knew it was a challenge going in because three out of four of our games were going to be on the road. That’s never easy. None of them are easy, but they are especially hard on the road. We feel fortunate and we’ve worked very hard to get to that point. It’s been a team effort.”

Each of the four exciting wins came down to the wire, as the team was nominated for the GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Week Award following each victory. Denver won the award in Weeks 10, 11 and 12.

Denver came out of the third quarter atop the AFC West Standings and never relinquished that position on the way to its 11th AFC West title.

Week 10

Broncos 17 Chiefs 10

Game Recap: The Broncos carried the ball 55 times for 244 yards, tying for the sixth most rushing attempts in a single game in franchise history, helping the team enjoy a seven-minute advantage in time of possession. The team only attempted eight passes all game, but one of them provided the winning margin when Tim Tebow found Eric Decker deep down the field for a 56-yard touchdown that gave Denver a 17-7 lead in the fourth quarter. Kansas City added a field goal in the final seconds, but Mario Haggan recovered an onside kick with seven seconds remaining to seal the win for the Broncos.

Turning Point: With only one completion through the first three-plus quarters, the Broncos took a shot downfield and Tebow and Decker connected for a 56-yard touchdown that proved to be the winning margin.

Key Statistic: Denver controlled the pace of the game with 55 rushes for 244, controlling the ball for 33:38 of the game. The well-rested defense was able to sack Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel four times and hold him to just 93 passing yards.

Quotable: “It’s an old cliché but you take what the defense gives you. We were having success with the run…It’s just what is working for us and if it ‘aint broke don’t fix it.’”
-Head Coach John Fox

Week 11

Broncos 17 Jets 13

Game Recap: The Denver defense kept the Jets in check long enough for the team to put together another fourth-quarter comeback as the Nation watched on Thursday Night Football. The only touchdown allowed by the defense came on a play in which it stripped running back Bilal Powell, but offensive lineman Matt Slauson fell on the loose ball in the end zone. Trailing 10-3 in the third quarter, cornerback André Goodman returned an interception for a touchdown to start the comeback, and then Tebow ran for a 20-yard touchdown in the final minute of the contest to give Denver the 17-13 victory. Tebow’s touchdown was the longest game-winning scoring run by a quarterback in the final minute of regulation in NFL history.

Turning Point: With the offense struggling to move the ball, Goodman stepped in front of a Mark Sanchez pass and returned the interception 26 yards for a touchdown to tie the game 10-10.

Key Statistic: Denver held the Jets to 3-of-14 (21.4%) on third downs, holding the Jets to a pair of field goals and just one touchdown on the game.

Quotable: “[Offensive coordinator] Coach [Mike] McCoy just said, ‘Keep believing.‘ When we were in the huddle, what we were talking about as an offense was, ‘You want opportunities like this because this is an opportunity for greatness as an offense. We haven‘t done anything this whole game, but we have an opportunity to do something special right now. Let‘s go out there and do it.’ Everybody was focused, and you could see that their will was taking over as an offense. I think that‘s pretty special.”‖
-Quarterback Tim Tebow

Week 12

Broncos 16 Chargers 13

Game Recap: The Broncos completed their third fourth-quarter comeback of the season, winning another game in dramatic fashion as Matt Prater converted a 37-yard field goal with just 29 seconds remaining in overtime. Prater finished the game a perfect 3-of-3 on field goals, keeping the Broncos within striking distance in a game in which they never held a lead until the final margin. Denver posted 208 rushing yards, led by running back Willis McGahee’s 117 and Tebow’s 67, and did not turn the ball over.

Turning Point: Von Miller tackled Mike Tolbert for a four-yard loss in overtime, pushing the Chargers back to the Denver 35-yard line. On the next play, Nick Novak pushed a 53-yard game-winning field goal attempt wide right, turning the ball over to Denver.

Key Statistic: 51 carries for 208 yards as a team for the Broncos allowed the team to wear down the Chargers and come through with the points needed at the end of the game.

Quotable: “I was built for (running the ball late in the game). I was never one of those guys that I come out and start hitting it on the first play. If I do it, it’s like it is a bonus. At the end of the game when I know those guys (Chargers) get tired of hitting, that is when I need to step my game up. I kept telling my coach to give me the ball. I’m ready.”

Week 13

Broncos 35 Vikings 32

Game Recap: Denver won its fifth consecutive game with another fourth-quarter thrilling comeback in Minneapolis. Tim Tebow finished 10-of-15 for 202 yards and two touchdowns for a near-perfect quarterback rating of 149.3. Denver’s defense forced two key turnovers resulting in scores – a 16-yard interception by Mario Haggan, who started for an injured Von Miller, and a 20-yard interception return by André Goodman that set up Matt Prater’s 23-yard game-winning field goal as time expired.

Turning Point: With the Broncos trailing by three late in the fourth quarter, Tebow hit Demaryius Thomas for a 40-yard gain to set up Prater’s 46-yard field goal that knotted the game at 32-32 with 1:38 to play in regulation. On the Vikings’ next play from scrimmage, Goodman came up with the interception and returned it to the Minnesota 15-yard line to set up Prater’s game-winner.

Key Statistic: Demaryius Thomas posted a career best with four receptions for 144 yards and two touchdowns.

Quotable: “The ending (of these comeback wins) is what I like the most. You thank the world for some big whole hearted guys that keep fighting. It didn’t start off real well for us, the first half was a little sluggish to say the least but we responded and came back in a big way and made the necessary plays. It was a tough, hard-fought game but we will take it.”

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