Denver Broncos: Top Plays from 2011 Season
The 2012 NFL season is rapidly approaching, but it's still a couple of months out.
Following the huge free agent signing of Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos fans are abuzz about the possibilities for this coming season.
But there's still a little time to reflect on the 2011 season, one that saw the Broncos overcome a 1-4 start to win the AFC West division and advance to the Divisional round of the playoffs.
Many feel the Broncos have added the pieces for a Super Bowl run. But first, let's take a look at some of the best plays from the Broncos 2011 season.
Honorable Mention: Lance Ball 32 Yard Touchdown Run vs Pats
The Broncos hung tough against the New England Patriots for much of their week 15 battle in what would be a playoff preview.
The Pats would win the game 41-23, but the Broncos were able to grab the lead after this nifty piece of running from Lance Ball.
After taking the handoff from Tim Tebow, Ball broke a couple of tackles before getting into the end zone.
Not bad for a third-string running back.
No.7: Elvis Dumervil Puts a Lick on Tom Brady
This clip comes from that same week 15 game between Denver and New England.
With the game pretty much decided, Tom Brady drops back to throw on 2nd and 10 and just gets blasted by Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil, one of the top sack artists in the league.
The Patriots left Sports Authority Field that day with a 41-23 win, but this is a hit Brady likely won't soon forget.
To his credit, however, he did pop right back up.
No. 6: Daniel Fells' Big Catch vs. Miami
This was the game where the "Tebow Magic" that seemed to follow the team all season started.
After doing almost nothing for 55 minutes of this game and trailing 15-0, Tebow rallied the team for an improbable win.
After throwing a five yard touchdown to Demariyus Thomas, the team still needed so many things to go right.
They recovered the ensuing onside kick and Tebow led another scoring drive, this time finding Daniel Fells from three yards and then following that up with a tying two-point conversion.
The Broncos would go on to stun the Miami Dolphins in overtime, but it was a diving catch made by Fells on the game tying drive that stands out.
Tebow found Fells on 2nd and 10 for 28 yards. Fells, not known for his athletic ability, made a diving catch that was challenged and upheld by the replay assistant.
If Fells dropped that ball, this comeback would likely have never happened. The play comes at about the 4:05 mark of this clip.
No. 5: Eric Decker TD Catch vs Bengals
Not all the Broncos top plays in 2011 involved Tebow.
After dropping the season opener to the Oakland Raiders, the Broncos did not want to start the season 0-2.The Cincinnati Bengals, however, who would go on to be one of the surprise teams of the season, gave them all they could handle.
Leading 17-15 in a tight game in the fourth quarter, Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton found Eric Decker and the two connected on a 52 yard touchdown that led to the Broncos first win of the season.
No.4: Matt Prater Sends It to OT with 59-Yarder vs. Bears
The Broncos most unlikely win of the season came in week 14 against the Chicago Bears.
It was another ugly offensive performance for Denver but after Tebow found Demariyus Thomas on a 10 yard touchdown pass with 2:08 to play, Denver finally got on the board.
On the Bears next possession, Marion Barber inexplicably ran out of bounds on 2nd down to stop the clock, keeping Denver alive.
The Broncos got the ball back and Tebow quickly got the team into field goal position, albeit a long one.
Matt Prater stepped up and drilled this 59 yarder to send it into OT and of course, Denver would win it from there on another Prater field goal, this one from 51 yards.
Many fans argued that Prater was the team's MVP in 2011.
No. 3: Tim Tebow Runs in Game Winner vs. Jets
It was Thursday Night NFL and the New york Jets had come into Denver in week 11.
They led 13-10 with just over a minute left, but Tebow had driven the Broncos into Jets territory on a drive that began at their own five yard line.
The Jets came with an all out blitz and Tebow made them pay, running it in from 20 yards out to give Denver the lead and the eventual win.
No. 2: Tim Tebow TD Pass to Demariyus Thomas vs. Vikings
After already hitting Demariyus Thomas for a touchdown to start the second half of this week 13 game, Tim Tebow found him a second time just moments later.
The Broncos had the ball 1st and 10 from the Vikings' 41. Tebow got flushed out of the pocket and looked to be running out of bounds; in fact he almost was.
But he then spotted Thomas, threw the ball across his body and Thomas did the rest, getting into the end zone.
This was a tremendous play and one that few quarterbacks in the NFL are going to make. The play comes at about the :25 mark of the video.
No. 1: Broncos Send Steelers Home on First Play of OT
Like there was any doubt as to what number one would be.
Say what you will about the Steelers depleted defense, but Tebow threw all over that team in the Wild Card round of the playoffs and it was capped off with this throw.
The Broncos went into overtime against the defending AFC champions and it was the first game in NFL history played under the new playoff overtime rules, where each team gets a possession unless the team that gets it first scores a touchdown.
Well, that's exactly what the Broncos did, on the very first play of OT. Tebow threw a perfect ball to Thomas who then fought off Ike Taylor and raced to the end zone, sending Sports Authority Field into a frenzy.
Unfortunately, this would be the Broncos last 'highlight' of the season as they were picked apart the following week by New England.
How will these plays compare to what the new look, Peyton Manning-led Broncos come up with in 2012? In just a couple short months, we'll be able to find out.