By Rick Brown
The last time the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos met, it was a high-scoring aerial highlight reel. In that game back in 2013, the Broncos narrowly beat the Cowboys with a field goal in overtime, 51-48. Back and forth these two teams went, and neither team’s defense showed up to play.
Fast forward four years and both rosters have gone through massive restructuring. Now both of these teams are starting young quarterbacks and relying on strong running games and stout defenses. On Sunday. the Broncos played a complete game and beat the Cowboys, 42-17.
The Broncos’ (2-0) defense held the Cowboys’ (1-1) offense in check. Trevor Siemian connected twice with Emmanuel Sanders on his way to a four-touchdown performance. The Broncos also effectively ran the ball and won the battle of the time of possession. Denver committed more turnovers, but the Broncos’ offense scored too many points for the Cowboys. The Denver offense was able to come together and execute the game plan.
The Broncos started off the game well and scored on its first drive. C.J. Anderson did a great job of moving the ball, and had 118 yards rushing with one rushing touchdown; he also caught three passes, with one being a touchdown. Jamaal Charles added an additional 46 yards rushing and did a good job of moving the chains, although the offensive line continues to struggle. Menelik Watson allowed a couple of sacks of Siemian, and one of those sacks resulted in a fumble. Left tackle Garett Bolles was also injured during the game.
For the day, Siemian finished with four touchdown passes and one interception. The Broncos’ wide receivers finally came to life as Sanders finished the day with six catches for 62 yards and two touchdowns. Demaryius Thomas had six catches for 71 yards as Siemian worked diligently to involve everyone on offense. The offense really stepped up this game, and so did the defense.
The Broncos’ defense had the big task of stopping Ezekiel Elliott, and they did a good job by limiting him to only eight rushing yards. The Broncos’ secondary had to compete with superstar Dez Bryant, who scored his first touchdown of the 2017 season against Aqib Talib.
This game could have been eerily similar to last week’s game, as the Broncos also got off to a fast start against the Los Angeles Chargers. Even after halftime adjustments, the second half did not start off much better for the Cowboys’ offense. The Broncos defense continued to shut down Elliott and intercepted two of Dak Prescott’s passes. Von Miller recorded two sacks against Prescott as the Broncos’ defensive line terrorized the Cowboys’ offensive line. Talib sealed the game with a pick-six as Prescott was trying to drive the Cowboys down the field.
Special Teams: C
While Kicker Brandon McManus went 1 for 2 in field attempts and 2 for 2 in extra points, the punt and kick return game continues to haunt the Broncos. Cody Latimer returned one kick off for 25 yards. Isaiah McKenzie had two punt returns for a total of 10 yards. The Broncos’ success on offense led to only three Riley Dixon punts. Denver must continue the search for an explosive return game to become a complete team.
The coaching staff of the Broncos seems to have figured out how to stop Elliott and this talented Cowboys team. The team jumped out to a fast start and withstood the attempted comeback of the Cowboys. The Broncos defense had the Cowboys’ number all game long. While Prescott may have passed for more than 200 yards, he was picked off twice in the game. Prescott had only four interceptions last year. Elliott earned the rookie of the year award last year after rushing for 1600 yards, and the Broncos’ defensive line completely shut him down. This Broncos coaching staff is showing its intelligence by eliminating what other teams do well.
The Broncos will travel to New York to play the Buffalo Bills (1-1) next Sunday. The Bills are similar to last year’s team, with a strong run game to pair up with a strong defense. Denver will have another tough test as the defense will have to prepare for another superstar in LeSean McCoy. The Broncos will have to contain McCoy if the team wants to continue its current winning streak.