ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) This is Brock Osweiler's team - for now, at least. And everybody's on board, including Peyton Manning.
The five-time MVP hobbled by an injured left foot met with Osweiler at halftime Sunday night to go over things he'd seen on TV while watching the Patriots-Broncos game from an auxiliary area outside the team's locker room.
He gave his long-time apprentice tips on how to beat Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the previously prefect Patriots (10-1).
Osweiler did the rest, leading the Broncos (9-2) back from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to hand New England its first loss. He checked to a run in overtime and C.J. Anderson scampered 48 yards down the left sideline for a 30-24 win that tightened the AFC race.
''Peyton just had some great ideas about what he saw watching what was going on,'' coach Gary Kubiak said Monday. ''He had our game plan with him. He started pointing out some things to me about some of the things that he felt good about, and he was echoing that to Brock.
''He and Brock sat there at halftime before we actually go through our list of what we're coming out with,'' Kubiak said. ''(He was) just a positive reinforcement as we're playing. We knew we were in a tough ball game and needed to play well in the second half. Having him there was a boost, I think, for everybody.''
Manning didn't make the trip to Chicago for Osweiler's first career start a week earlier so that he could continue getting treatment. A day after Osweiler won his starting debut against the Bears, Manning was fitted for a walking cast.
Manning, who will resume his rehab after the cast comes off sometime this week, met briefly with Brady on the field Sunday night before retreating indoors, out of the camera lens' view.
''He could have been on the field. That didn't make much sense to stand out there for three and a half hours,'' Kubiak said. ''He could have gone to the booth, so he's got to go up and down with the cast on him. We settled on basically we have a nice, comfortable, warm spot for you here in the locker room.''
So, Manning had the same vantage point as millions of viewers across the country, watching Brady capitalize on the kinds of early mistakes that have doomed Denver before.
Brady threw TD passes to tight end Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler following Britton Colquitt's shanked 25-yard punt and Osweiler's tipped interception at his own 15-yard line before the Broncos came in at the half trailing 14-7.
Brady's third TD made it 21-7 on the first play of the fourth quarter, but Osweiler kept his poise.
''The biggest thing is you don't want to panic, I think down 14 points going into the fourth quarter against the Patriots, it would be easy to try to force things and Brock didn't,'' left tackle Ryan Harris said. ''None of us did.''
On the winning play, Osweiler, who swears he never let a day go by where he didn't learn a lesson from Manning, diagnosed the defense and checked into a run.
''If 18 was in there he would have done the same thing,'' Anderson said.
That's the point: there's no drop-off with Osweiler.
Anderson bounced left and followed blocks by tight end Vernon Davis and Harris to give Denver one of its biggest regular-season wins.
''It means we can beat anybody,'' linebacker Brandon Marshall said, ''because it's true.''
It also means the world to Osweiler's growth as a quarterback, suggested Harris.
''You've got to be able to win situations in the NFL and once you've seen you can be successful in a situation I think it kind of gives any player - quarterback, lineman, receiver, running back - a lot of confidence,'' Harris said. ''And he's learned that. That's part of being a pro: getting in those situations, winning those situations and carrying it with you into the next week.''
That conviction is contagious, too.
''Brock's doing exactly what we all expected of him,'' Harris said. ''It's not just that he practiced with us (every Wednesday even when Manning was healthy). We could tell in the things that he says week to week, how he prepares. All of us prepare so hard and the last thing you want to do is play with someone who doesn't do that.
''And Brock, even before he was starting was preparing very well. And that just gives everybody confidence that, hey, we do our job, we're going to be in the right play, we're going to be doing the right things, we can be successful.''
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