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The Morning After: Week 16

Posted Dec 27, 2010

Correll Buckhalter found the end zone twice, Brandon Lloyd moved up the charts and Syd'Quan Thompson sealed the game in the Broncos' 24-23 victory against the Houston Texans.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With his team trailing 23-10 to the Houston Texans, Correll Buckhalter ran to his left and waited.

Tim Tebow dropped back and faked a quick pass to Eddie Royal on his right, then spun back around and dumped off a screen pass to Buckhalter. The running back followed his blockers down the sideline before cutting back inside and sprinting his way 23 yards into the end zone.

"I just saw (Texans linebacker Brian) Cushing kind of overpursuing, and I felt like I could get by him in space," Buckhalter recalled. "The linemen and receivers did a great job blocking, and I was able to find the seam and hit it. Once I smelled the end zone, I just gave it everything I had."

Buckhalter found the end zone twice in the eventual 24-23 victory, and by the end of the game he had 92 total yards -- 42 and a touchdown on the ground, and 50 and a score through the air.

The second multi-touchdown game of Buckhalter's career was his biggest output since Week 13 last season in Kansas City, when he ran for 113 yards and caught three passes for 15 more.

"Correll Buckhalter -- since I have gotten here -- has been a great example of a professional football player in everything that he does, how he carries himself and how he prepares," Interim Head Coach Eric Studesville said. "And then whenever we have called on him, he has gone in and done whatever we have asked. This performance here, that is 'Buck.' That is what he wants to do and that is what he will do every time he gets a chance. I am happy for him. He did a great job today."

The 10-year veteran stepped into the lead back role after Knowshon Moreno left Sunday's game with a rib injury. His 11 carries tied for his most this season with the home opener against Seattle, and his 14 total touches were his highest total this season.

In two games this year, Buckhalter didn't see the ball, and in three more he had just one touch. But he kept working and was always ready to contribute.

"It shows you the kind of person and the type of character that he has," Brian Dawkins said. "He didn't hold his head down all those times he wasn't getting the ball, and when his number was called, he stepped up for us big time."

Buckhalter said his performance is a credit to the team, and he was happy to be able to contribute to a win.

"It's just about getting the opportunity and taking advantage of it," he said. "Knowshon went down with his ribs, and me and Lance (Ball) just filled his shoes."

LLOYD MOVES UP THE CHARTS

With the team down 17-0 after totaling just 100 passing yards in the first half, the Broncos made a decision.

"We felt like we needed to take some shots and we needed to push the ball down the field," Studesville said.

Tebow happily took that directive, finishing the game with 308 passing yards and a touchdown en route to a passer rating of 89.4.

"I was excited about that -- to be able to take some shots and be aggressive," the rookie said. "I thought it was going to open it up and I think (the coaches) knew that as well. I think we were just waiting for the right time."

The majority of that passing yardage went to the leading receiver in the NFL -- Brandon Lloyd.

Lloyd finished the day with 111 yards through the air, including a 41-yard leaping grab midway through the third quarter that caught the attention of his rookie quarterback and gave him the league lead with nine receptions of 40-or-more yards.

"That was me, just honestly, trusting him and (us) talking all week long, 'If you have a shot, you have better legs and you are going to go get it pretty much over anybody that you go against,'" Tebow said. "I was just trusting him and he made a great play."

Lloyd now ranks second in team history with 1,375 receiving yards on the season, behind only Rod Smith's output in the 2000 season, when he caught 100 passes for 1,602 yards.

He ranks first in the NFL in receiving yards through 16 weeks, though there are still two games remaining in Week 16.

Buckhalter isn't surprised his teammate ranks so high on the list.

"Jabar (Gaffney) and Brandon and Eddie and all those guys have been doing a great job all year," he said. "As soon as the ball is in the air, they pretty much are going to catch it. It's been a receiver-driven offense all year, and those guys continue to show up every week and make plays."

THOMPSON MAKES THE PLAY

After Tebow directed a 12-play, 72-yard drive that he capped off with a 6-yard run to give the Broncos their first lead of the game, the defense huddled up.

"Brian Dawkins brought us together in that fourth quarter and told us we needed to be as focused as we could be and come together as a team to do our assignments and get the ball back for our offense," Syd'Quan Thompson said.

Even as Houston quarterback Matt Schaub drove the Texans to the Denver 39-yard line on six plays, the defense stayed focused.

With the clock winding down under two minutes, Schaub dropped back to pass and looked for his tight end, Owen Daniels, for the fourth time on the drive. But Justin Bannan reached his arm up and got a piece of the ball.

Thompson, who was in coverage, saw the ball as it was deflected.

"I was just trying to keep my eyes burnt on my guy, and at the last minute, I just saw the ball in the air and went to go get it."

The rookie ran under the pass and snared his second interception of the season -- tied for tops on the team with Champ Bailey -- before falling to the ground to essentially seal a Broncos victory.

Dawkins was impressed that the rookie had the awareness to make the play under pressure.

"So many things happened during that play, and a lot of communication, especially with the motion and the blitz that we had called," the defensive captain said. "For him to be able to understand what he was supposed to do in that situation and then make the play, catch the ball and then get down, that shows -- I said this way back when he first started playing for us on the field, that he shows a maturity beyond his age even though he's a rookie."

Thompson was met by a huddle of teammates right after the play, including Ryan Clady, who sprinted onto the field to congratulate him.

The rookie was just glad that he was able to contribute to the winning effort.

"I'm happy I was there to make the play to seal the game," Thompson said. "We've been on a stretch of losing, and to be able to come back and get this win for the team at home and for the fans is big. Everybody (could) sleep comfortable (Sunday night). It's a much-deserved win."

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