Throughout the Denver Broncos' recent struggles, a tendency to abandon the running game has often confused and infuriated fans. That all changed during the Broncos' 20-13 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday as both star running backs Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay roared back into life.
189 rushing yards later, the Broncos not only proved the oddsmakers wrong, but they may also have even saved their season and put quarterback Drew Lock back on track. Lindsay appeared to be frozen out of the offense in recent games and puzzlingly only carried the ball four times against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 10.
Lindsay revealed what he felt had reignited the flagging running game after carrying the ball 16 times for 83 yards in the win over the Dolphins that improved the Broncos to 4-6 on the season.
“At the end of the day, we came with attitude,” Lindsay said post-game. “You have to be able to remain consistent with the run game, that’s what it comes down to. When there’s a bad play, we still do it. When there’s a good play, you go back to it.”
Playing even with a small lead helped the Broncos massively and served to massage Lock's fragile confidence. Staying the course with the running game finally provided some vital balance to the offense.
Additionally, the Broncos' struggling offensive line got a chance to cut loose and showcase its considerable athleticism by explosively getting out in front of the ball-carriers. Lindsay credited the group upfront and also praised Garett Bolles' level of play and what the left tackle has achieved this season in the wake of the upset.
“You guys see Garett Bolles out there, the stuff he is doing is Pro Bowl. He’s having a hellacious year,” Lindsay said. “His partner in crime [LG] Dalton Risner is doing his thing, [C Lloyd] Cushenberry doing his thing and [G] Graham [Glasgow] and [Austin] Schlottmann, all of them are doing their thing. That shows you that if you go and trust the run game and you go out and give it everything you’ve got, it’s going to open up.”
Such praise from the ball-carrier, especially for a group that has struggled to date, suggests that the Broncos are hanging in together through good times and bad. Lock revealed post-game that Lindsay is rapidly emerging as an important leader in the ongoing process of fusing the young Broncos together.
“Phil is—I don’t really know how much Phil gets talked about in the media or if he gets pumped up or shut down, but he deserves a whole lot of credit for this run game and this offense,” Lock said on Sunday. “You guys see the plays on the field but him in the locker room—him in the huddle from last year to this year—it’s a completely different Phil. I’ve been extremely impressed with how he’s progressed as a leader for this offense and just as a football player in general.”
Lock will be grateful to Lindsay, and the Broncos' running game, for taking some of the weight off his young shoulders. It has also provided a much-needed tonic for the beleaguered signal-caller when framed against the mounting criticism of his increasingly shaky performances.
Now that the Broncos have displayed some signs of life, the hope is they can build some confidence and string a few wins together. Lindsay's outlook on this team is bullish.
“We can win the rest of these games,” Lindsay insisted. “It’s the NFL. We all do the same thing. It’s about executing.”
Keeping it simple and playing to your strengths might well be the key for the Broncos the rest of the way as they battle to keep their playoff chances alive.