ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In one of the defining stretches of the Broncos' 2013 regular season campaign, the team showed its resiliency and character in playing through one of the toughest stretches of the season without Head Coach John Fox and still notching a 3-1 mark. Fox underwent emergency heart valve surgery during the bye week and missed the next four weeks - which entailed a road showdown with the Chargers, a Sunday night date with the unbeaten Chiefs, another Sunday night showdown at New England and a return match with Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium. Under the direction of Interim Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio, the Broncos didn't miss a beat and earned three tough victories, entering the final quarter of the season with a 10-2 record.
Broncos 28, Chargers 20
How it happened: The Broncos struck three times in a span of just over 10 minutes, with wide receiver
Key Moment: Thomas’ third touchdown of the day gave the Broncos just enough of a cushion to hang on without scoring again the rest of the afternoon.
It was over when: Moreno picked up a first down during the game’s final two minutes. Moments prior, Manning converted a key second-and-7 situation when he found Demaryius Thomas for a 9-yard gain.
Key performer: Thomas finished with seven receptions for 108 yards and a hat-trick of touchdowns, which tied a franchise record.
Broncos 27, Chiefs 17
Key moment: With the Broncos holding a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter, Ball lost a fumble deep in Denver territory. However, on Kansas City's ensuing play, linebacker
It was over when: The Broncos forced the Chiefs to turn the ball over on downs with 2:50 remaining.
Key performer: The entire offensive line. The Chiefs entered the Sunday night showdown with an NFL-best 36 sacks. They walked out of Sports Authority Field at Mile High with the same number. The Denver offensive line kept Kansas City from registering a single quarterback hit on Manning.
Patriots 34, Broncos 31 (OT)
Key moment: The Patriots' late fumble recovery was the game's decisive play, but equally pivotal was New England's recovery of a Ball fumble with 8:19 to play in the third quarter. The Broncos led 24-7 at that point and had picked up a pair of first downs on the drive, but the Patriots stormed back after the turnover and took the lead.
It was over when: Gostowski’s kick sailed through the uprights with 1:56 remaining in overtime.
Key performer: It was a career night for running back Moreno
Broncos 35, Chiefs 28
Key moment: A seesaw afternoon of classic AFC West football culminated when Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith marched the Chiefs down the field late in the fourth quarter with completions of 26, 28 and 23 yards to wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, running back Dexter McCluster and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. However, the Broncos stiffened in the red zone and safety
It was over when: Ball picked up a late first down with his 28-yard scamper, allowing the Broncos to run out the clock.
Key performer: Decker’s four touchdown catches set a Broncos franchise record – and the wide receiver totaled a career-high 174 yards on eight receptions for the game.