Broncos Are 6-0 in Games Where RB Phillip Lindsay Rushes for 100 Yards
Getting running back Phillip Lindsay back in the lineup in Week 6 became even more key for the Denver Broncos after Melvin Gordon had been ruled out with strep throat, three days after being cited for driving under the influence. Gordon is now staring down the barrel of an NFL suspension, which means Lindsay's return to action is very timely indeed.
Lindsay didn’t disappoint in his return to the starting job on Sunday in New England, running for 101 yards on 23 carries, serving as the Broncos' tip of the spear in the team's 18-12 upset win over the Patriots. The Broncos improved to 2-3 on the season.
Following the game, QB Drew Lock — who also returned to action in Week 6 after a solid month on the training table — spoke glowingly on just how much Lindsay brings to the offense.
“He was ready, he was excited, and it felt good to finally have him back on the field again,” Lock said post-game. “He brings an energy that is infectious, without a doubt. Having him back is huge for our offense. I’m excited to hopefully get everyone back eventually – [on the] offense and defensive side of the ball – and just really show how good this team can be.”
That major road win could be a springboard to further victories, especially if the Broncos can continue to get key players back from injury. Tight end Noah Fant’s absence was badly felt in the red zone.
The Broncos suffered from some key drops in the end zone and had to get by with an overreliance on kicker Brandon McManus, who successfully hit all six of his field goal attempts on Sunday, including two from 50-plus yards. McManus' 6-for-6 day kicking field goals set a new single-game team record.
That type of touchdown-less formula is not one for sustained success and has a very limited shelf life in the NFL, particularly with the defending Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs next on the schedule for the Broncos. Following Sunday's win, Lindsay was quick to point to where he thinks there is room to improve rather than simply basking in the victory or the sixth 100-yard rushing performance of his career.
“I feel like I’ve got to get some rust off,” Lindsay conceded after the victory. “I think that was just a shock to my body, being out for a month and a half, and then going in there and getting hit like that. I’ve got to clean up a lot of things.”
In the games in which Lindsay has eclipsed the century mark rushing, the Broncos are a perfect 6-0 dating back to when he entered the league in 2018. There's no coincidence there and the hope is that the Broncos recognize one of the obvious factors in this equation for success.
Lindsay’s self-effacing assessment of his return to action is typical of his determination to improve but such extreme ownership gains the respect and admiration of his teammates like Lock. Head coach Vic Fangio took a similarly level-headed approach in analyzing Lindsay's performance against the Patriots.
“I thought at times he looked really, really good, like Phillip has always looked, and then there were times that I thought he was a little rusty, but that’s to be expected,” Fangio said. “He hadn’t played since the first half of our opener and when, I think, you consider everything, he played good. But I think he will look at it and think he left some yards out there.”
The 16 days between the Jets win and the trip to face the Patriots also seems to have been put to good use by O-line coach Mike Munchak, as the play upfront noticeably improved. Lindsay was quick to shift the praise away from his 100-yard showing, putting it on the shoulders of his guys upfront.
“But yeah, my offensive line did a great job,” Lindsay said. “They protected me and they got me going. I’m proud of them.”
A win in Foxborough will be sure to raise some eyebrows in wider NFL circles, but building on the win and beating the Chiefs would cause a much more significant ripple effect.