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Maybe the Broncos just got caught up in the whole single-season touchdown record mark. It seemed from the very beginning that Peyton Manning and the Broncos were on a quest to break the record in this game so they wouldn't have to worry about it in Week 17.
But over the last few weeks, the Broncos have struggled to find balance on offense.
When the running game excelled in New England, as Knowshon Moreno ran for over 200 yards versus the Patriots, Manning struggled while passing for just 150 yards in the 34-31 loss. In Denver's 27-20 loss to San Diego, Moreno carried the football for just 19 yards, while Manning threw for 289 yards on 41 passing attempts.
All week long, the Broncos preached how offensive balance would be key entering the playoffs.
Eric Decker preached patience about how balance was key if the Broncos wanted to end the season with a Lombardi Trophy, via Joan Niesen of The Denver Post:
You see teams that make it to the championship, (and) they're running the football. That is something that, we've got some good backs, we've got a good offensive line and we've been making strides every week. So that's a focus of ours.
Even Manning preached how important offensive balance was leading into this week's game:
We talk about balance, but we talk about effective balance. It's one thing to have the equal amount of runs and passes, but if one is doing well and one is not getting much production, that really isn't effective balance. It'd be nice to get that balance. The coaches have pointed that out to us, and that is something we would like to fix this week.
Moreno would end the game with 11 carries for 76 yards, with Montee Ball chiming in four carries for 32 yards.
When Denver's running backs were given a chance to run the football, however, they ran it well. With the Broncos leading just 16-13 early on in the fourth quarter, and with the offense failing to move the football for an entire quarter, it was a bit perplexing as to why the Broncos chose to pass so often with Manning.
Of course, Broncos safety Mike Adams picked off Matt Schaub in Denver territory, and Manning would go on to throw for three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to make it a moot point.
Having said that, if the Broncos are to beat elite teams in the postseason, they can't stubbornly rely upon the passing game as they did today against the worst team in the NFL.
As mentioned before, maybe the touchdown record had something to do with it. But if the Broncos are to rely on Manning the way they did today and last week versus San Diego, the 2013 season will not end well for them.