The Denver Broncos ended a disappointing season in fine style as they dispatched of playoff bound and divisional rivals Oakland Raiders. It was a fitting send off for Head Coach Gary Kubiak who retired with his Super Bowl 50 ring and handed over the reigns to someone new.
With Derek Carr out injured the Raiders knew it would be a real challenge to clinch the divisional title and it turned out so, with Matt McGloin going down injured and rookie Connor Cook taking over to play his first football of the season. The Broncos meanwhile, out of playoff contention, were without an array of starters such as Demarcus Ware and Derek Wolfe. Denver were also expected to give quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch 50/50 playing time, however Siemian stayed in the whole game and led his team to a ninth victory of the season.
Below we look at some of the big plays from the Broncos’ victory:
Devontae Booker 11 yard touchdown run:
The Broncos got off to a lightning start to this game which has been a rarity this season, and quickly marched down to the eleven yard line on the opening drive. The Broncos under Gary Kubiak operate a zone blocking system and that has appeared to be the downfall this season. On this play the blocks are executed perfectly, the whole line shifts to the right and with the help of fullback Juwan Thompson they allow Devontae Booker to get to the edge and turn the corner. Just like that, he is in the endzone untouched. Adding a fullback seems to really help this Broncos team, and also running away from Khalil Mack is a good idea which happens here. You can watch the play develop in the GIF below.
Jordan Taylor 23 yard catch:
This was one of Trevor Siemian’s rare 20+ yard completions over the course of the season, but that was thanks to excellent yards after catch from first year 53 man roster player Jordan Taylor. The Broncos line up with three receivers wide and a tight end and running back, which is a common NFL formation. The receiver on the far side runs a deep curl and Bennie Fowler runs a short curl in the slot. Jordan Taylor runs a route across the field and is Siemian’s first read, whereas Jeff Heuerman the tight end runs a seam and the two actually come close to a collision if Taylor had kept running across the field. Siemian squeezes the ball into a tight spot as the coverage is actually quite tight on this play however Siemian often gets lost if he can’t throw to his first read which he manages to do. Taylor then turns up field to pick up some crucial extra yards. You can watch the play develop in the GIF below.
Next we see Devontae Booker’s 43 yard touchdown catch which took the Broncos into a 17-0 lead:
The Broncos set up here with Devontae Booker in the running back position , however he then motions out to receiver. The Broncos use the three bunch receivers on the far side to take away defenders, whilst Jordan Taylor runs a quick out route to block Raiders cornerback Sean Smith. Booker and Taylor both appear to be running regular routes with the defender covering Taylor dropping back, however Booker then sharply cuts back to receive the ball. This allows Taylor to block Smith who was deep in covering Booker, and Booker was give a clear patch to the end zone. You can watch the play develop in the GIF below.
This next cleverly designed play put the Broncos out of reach:
The Raiders load the box here expecting run with the Broncos at the two yard line and no receivers out wide. The Broncos rushed on the previous play and came up short, so Kubiak tried to be inventive with this next play. Siemian runs the play action with Forsett and this allows tight end Virgil Green to break free into the back of the end zone, whilst Cody Latimer runs behind the line and flushes out across the goal line, albeit he is picked up by a defender. This leaves Siemian to float the pass to a wide open Green in the back corner of the endzone for the Broncos touchdown. You can watch the play develop in the GIF below.
Amari Cooper 32 yard touchdown catch:
With the Raiders down 24-0 late in the third quarter and starter Matt McGloin off injured, enter rookie quarterback Connor Cook. The Raiders struggled in all facets of the game with McGloin taking a real beating, which could be why the Raiders keep two of their bunch receivers on the far side into block to give Cook extra protection, leaving just the two receivers downfield. The far receiver runs across the middle of the field and Amari Cooper runs a corner route. Under pressure, Connor Cook shows great poise in stepping up in the pocket before delivering a great back shoulder throw to Amari Cooper. Cooper makes the grab before superbly staying in bounds and reaching the ball to the pylon for the touchdown. You can watch the play develop in the GIF below.
And with that the Broncos had their 24-6 victory and started 2017 on a high.