The Denver Broncos defied the oddsmakers, who'd set the home team as four-point underdogs in Week 11 vs. the Miami Dolphins. Despite some early adversity, the Broncos overcame it, going on to roll over Tua Tagovailoa and the previously red-hot Dolphins.
The Broncos' locker room and coaching staff signaled — with gusto — that Vic Fangio has not lost the belief and faith of his team. Although Denver is still forging its identity, the team appears to be bought-in to Fangio's ethos.
Who were the biggest winners and losers? Let's dive in.
Winner: Broncos' O-Line
Simply put, the Broncos didn't relinquish a single sack and produced 189 rushing yards in Week 11. Credit to O-Line Coach Mike Munchak and the big boys upfront, who made the changes necessary to play at a level of intensity heretofore unseen in 2020.
It made all the difference in the world and allowed the Broncos' offense to roll at times, controlling the trenches, time of possession, and ultimately, the scoreboard.
Winner: Phillip Lindsay | RB
Lindsay went from being ignored last week (four carries) to being an obvious focal point of the Broncos' offensive attack against the Dolphins. He produced 82 yards on 16 carries (5.12 avg), including two rushes of 20 yards and one 18-yarder.
Three of the Broncos' 10 biggest plays from scrimmage came courtesy of Lindsay. Message received, loud and clear.
Winner: Tim Patrick | WR
Although it took the final play of the game to get him over the hump (a 61-yard reception), Patrick produced his third 100-yard game of the season, which represents the most by a Bronco since WR Emmanuel Sanders also posted three in 2018.
Winner: Drew Lock | QB
Lock's game was imperfect but he makes it into the winner's column because of his resilience. The embattled signal-caller overcame a mountain of adversity, including an interception on the Broncos' first possession of the game, to lead the Broncos on multiple scoring drives.
Lock finished 18-of-30 for 270 yards with a pick. For fans still skeptical of Lock, one thing is certain; he out-played Tagovailoa.
Winner: Justin Simmons | S
Simmons late-game interception in the end zone sealed the Broncos' victory. Were it not for an ill-timed and ticky-tack defensive holding penalty (more on that shortly), Simmons would have finished the game with two picks.
Simmons also led the team in tackles with seven (six solo).
Winner: Malik Reed | OLB
Reed was a force throughout this game. He posted 1.5 sacks, which marked the third multi-sack game of his career. He now leads all undrafted NFL players with 6.5 sacks this season (even more than Shaquil Barrett).
Toss in six tackles, including one for a loss, and Reed was a stud out there.
Winner: DeShawn Williams | DL
Williams is the feel-good story of the year. After being cut more than a half-dozen times throughout his NFL career, the big trenchman finally got his chance to play in the wake of Denver's D-line injuries and he hasn't disappointed.
Williams notched two sacks on Sunday and did his part to limit Miami to just 56 rushing yards.
Winner(s): Dre'Mont Jones & DeMarcus Walker | DL
The two young D-linemen answered the bell in a big way on Sunday, combining for 1.5 sacks and playing surprisingly stout against the run. Although still a work in progress against the run, this duo simply makes plays when they're on the field.
Winner: Bryce Callahan | CB
Callahan didn't have a big flash play, like an interception, but he once again was dominant. Whether in coverage breaking up passes, or in run support laying the wood, he continued his strong bid for the Pro Bowl.
Winner: Sam Martin | P
Martin's punting helped Denver win the field-position battle. He finished with a net punting average of 50 yards on the day.
Loser: A.J. Bouye | CB
I'm nit-picking a little here because Bouye wasn't terrible. But he relinquished multiple catches, including Miami's lone touchdown (DeVante Parker) and was penalized twice.
The albeit ticky-tack defensive holding foul that erased Simmons' first interception was on Bouye. It's good Bouye finished the game because he simply needs more time on task and he'll find that groove in Fangio's scheme.
Loser: Melvin Gordon | RB
Gordon, it could be argued, is both a winner and a loser but I'm categorizing him the latter category. He rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns but what renders him a loser is the lost fumble in the fourth quarter that not only erased a likely touchdown (it happened on the 2-yard line) but gave Miami new life.
Gordon now is the league leader for lost fumbles with four. Lindsay, meanwhile, still hasn't fumbled in the NFL.