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Dalton Risner: 'Maybe the Broncos Are America's Team Today'

A little salt in the Texas-sized wound.

The Denver Broncos just produced the type of performance any offensive lineman could be proud of. Despite being 10-point underdogs, the Broncos mauled the Dallas Cowboys at home 30-16, rushing for nearly 200 yards and controlling the clock to the tune of 41:12 to 18:48.

Even though Denver — up to this point in the season — had done little to inspire the zeal and passion of the fanbase, Broncos Country showed out in force at AT&T Stadium. It helped the Broncos quite a lot hearing the crowd roar on their behalf, despite playing on the road. 

Against an opponent that had only lost one game entering Week 9, it was even more impressive to the Broncos' players to see the fans rockin' and rollin' and completely taking over the Dallas stands. After the game, left guard Dalton Risner could only come to one conclusion. 

"Yesterday was a fun football game beating America’s team," Risner said on Monday. "Maybe the Broncos are America’s team today.”

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Ouch. 

The Cowboys have long been known as 'America's Team', although there's only been one club to wrest that moniker away from them — the 2013 Broncos. That Broncos squad set the NFL record for points scored in a season (606) that still stands while Peyton Manning romped through the league to break every single-season passing record on the books. 

Polling that year found that the Cowboys had slipped from being considered 'America's Team' in the hearts and minds of fans across the nation and that Manning's Broncos had taken the mantle. Much has changed since then, however, as the last six years have seen some serious depredations befall the Broncos post-Super Bowl 50. 

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This year's squad sits at 5-4, winners of two straight. While no one is going to pretend that a team that was given just one prime-time game on the 2021 schedule (a Thursday night loss to the Cleveland Browns) should be considered 'America's Team', perhaps Risner was right. 

On Sunday, in the immediate aftermath of the Broncos' beatdown on the Cowboys, perhaps the moniker could be temporarily usurped. This team will have to come up with more wins similar to Week 9's if the Broncos even want to become more than a fleeting blip on the radar of NFL fans across America. 

There was a model established in Dallas — a blueprint. Risner saw it and hopes the coaches, including offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, recognized it, too. 

“You saw an identity on Sunday that you probably haven’t seen all year," Risner said. "We would like to assume the role of we’re going to maul you down the field in the run game, we’re going to rush for 150-plus [yards], we’re going to play-action when it’s needed and throw it to [WR] Tim Patrick, [WR] Courtland Sutton or [WR] Jerry Jeudy... I don’t speak for Coach Shurmur, but offensive linemen identity—that’s what my guys in my room—that’s what we would like."

Lightbulb moment. 


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