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2014 Game-by-Game: Week 12

Posted Jul 11, 2014

After a three-game road swing, the Broncos come home to face Knowshon Moreno and his new team, the Miami Dolphins.

  • WHEN: Sunday, Nov. 23; 2:25 p.m. MST.
  • WHERE: Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
  • TV: CBS.
  • SERIES RECORD: Dolphins lead, 11-4-1 (Broncos lead, 1-0, in the postseason).
  • JOHN FOX'S RECORD: 1-2.
  • PEYTON MANNING'S RECORD: 5-7 (0-1 in the postseason).
  • SERIES STREAK: The teams have split the last four games.
  • LAST TIME: Broncos 18, Dolphins 15 (OT); Oct. 23, 2011. Nov. 28, 2010. A frantic comeback aided by a successful onside kick and completed by a swing of Matt Prater's right foot allowed the Broncos to snap a four-game losing streak. Until the last six minutes of regulation, the Broncos appeared headed for their first shutout in nearly 19 years; the offense averaged just 3.4 yards per play to that point and had twice as many punts (eight) as Tim Tebow completions. But in a script that would be repeated over the following two months, the offense suddenly awoke late, marching to a pair of touchdowns that sandwiched a perfectly executed onside kickoff. Tebow went 9-of-13 for 121 yards on those two drives after going 4-of-14 for 40 yards (with four sacks for 21 yards) before them. But to complete the comeback, the defense needed a big play, and got it when D.J. Williams sacked Miami quarterback Matt Moore, jarring the football loose. Williams recovered it, and Prater drilled the game-winning 52-yard field goal four snaps later, giving Denver one of its most unlikely wins in recent history.
  • LAST TIME IN DENVER: Dolphins 26, Broncos 17; Nov. 2, 2008. The Broncos fell into a 13-0 hole in the first 10:02 and never climbed out of it in suffering their third consecutive loss. The Broncos were doomed by three interceptions -- one of which was returned 32 yards for a touchdown by Will Allen -- and a rushing game that struggled to just 14 yards, the franchise‚Äôs lowest single-game total in 36 years. A 1-yard touchdown reception by Peyton Hillis pulled the Broncos within two points in the fourth quarter, but the eventual AFC East champions responded with a 15-play, 80-yard touchdown march that chewed up eight minutes and two seconds and put the game out of reach.


NOTING THE GAME:

  • This will mark Knowshon Moreno's first shot against the team that drafted him. Moreno was not brought back in free agency after his breakthrough season of 2013. In the depressed market that now greets free-agent running backs, he signed a one-year contract with Miami for $3 million, with one-third of that guaranteed. Replicating the high production Moreno had last year (1,586 yards from scrimmage and 13 total touchdowns) will be difficult, because he'll run behind an offensive line that has newcomers at four of five starting positions. The changes are the fallout from the Richie Incognito bullying scandal that forced the unit to be torn down and rebuilt nearly from scratch in order to change the unit's culture as much as reasonably possible.
  • Miami has started six quarterbacks in its last seven games with Denver: Dan Marino (1999), Jay Fiedler (2001, 2002), A.J. Feeley (2004), Gus Frerotte (2005), Chad Pennington (2008), and Matt Moore (2011). That will become six in seven if Ryan Tannehill starts. In that same span, the Broncos have started four quarterbacks against Miami: Brian Griese (1999, 2001, 2002), Jake Plummer (2004, 2005), Jay Cutler (2008), and Tim Tebow (2011); that number will become five.
  • Manning has a career regular-season record of 5-8 as a starter against the Dolphins, but nine of those 13 games came when the Colts and Dolphins were AFC East rivals. They shared the division from 1970-2001, and in Manning's first four seasons as a pro, Miami made the postseason each time, completing a run of seven playoff appearances in eight years. Manning's teams have won three consecutive games against Miami dating back to 2003.
  • One of the most infamous games in Broncos history came when these teams opened the 1971 season at Mile High Stadium and finished in a 10-all tie. The Broncos had received a reprieve with 1:14 remaining when Bobby Anderson recovered a Jake Scott fumble on a punt return; Scott had run the 35-yard punt back to the Denver 28-yard-line, which was easily in Garo Yepremian's field-goal range (with the goal posts at the goal line in those days, he would attempted from 35 yards away if the Dolphins had failed to gain a yard). But instead of attempting to throw downfield, quarterback Don Horn handed off three times to Floyd Little. Little gained a first down on the third carry with 27 seconds left; only after that did head coach Lou Saban call for a Horn pass -- which he completed to midfield. But after a holding call on the next play, Horn handed off to Little once more to drain the clock to 0:00. Since regular-season overtime did not exist until 1974, the tie was final. The Broncos were booed off the field, in spite of some perfectly reasonable reasons to play for the draw: the field at the end of the field where the Broncos took possession was treacherous, since the baseball dirt infield was still present, and the drive prior to the punt had quickly petered out, and seen Horn slip in the dirt as he attempted to pass. After the game, Saban detailed his rationale, then uttered the quote that doomed him in Denver: "I'd rather have half a loaf than none." At the next home game, some fans brandished half-loaves of bread, having lost patience with Saban in the fifth year of his building plan. (And not "rebuilding," because at the time, the Broncos were still looking for their first winning season.) Saban would resign late in that regular season, but his stewardship effectively ended that day.

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