Below are some key (non-scoring) plays from Denver’s 31-23 win over Tampa Bay:
Third-and-2 from the Tampa Bay 28, : Right off the bat, Denver’s defense came up with a stop on third-and-short against one of the NFL’s top rushing attacks. Doug Martin was met at the line of scrimmage by defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson, who stopped the rookie 1-yard shy of the first-down mark to force a punt. The Broncos offense responded with a score to take a 7-0 lead.
Third-and-1 from the Tampa Bay 37: Having reached Buccaneers territory on its first possession, Denver’s offense needed a third-and-short conversion to extend the drive. They got just that as quarterback Peyton Manning connected with wide receiver Eric Decker for a pickup of 12. The offense put the first points of the day on the board six plays later when Manning found defensive tackle Mitch Unrein for a 1-yard score.
Third-and-11 from the Denver 15: Tampa Bay responded to Denver’s scoring drive with a march of their own. Inside the Denver red zone, the Broncos defense stood its ground, tackling Martin for a 1-yard loss and forcing an incompletion to bring up third-and-long. With good coverage beyond the sticks, Freeman had to check down to Mike Williams, and cornerback Chris Harris tackled the receiver immediately to force a field goal.
Second-and-10 from the Tampa Bay 24: Manning lofted a pass in the direction of wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who was streaking towards the end zone, but Tampa Bay cornerback LeQuan Lewis interfered with Thomas, drawing a penalty. On the next play, Manning went back to Thomas and the third-year wideout caught the 8-yard touchdown pass to give Denver a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
First-and-10 from the Tampa Bay 40: On the heels of 21 answered points, the Broncos defense forced a three-and-out to give the offense a chance to put the game away. But on the first play of the drive, Manning’s pass intended for tight end Jacob Tamme was intercepted by Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David and returned near midfield. Tampa Bay used the field position to pull within two possessions courtesy of a 50-yard Connor Barth field goal.