The numbers don't lie. The running game of the Denver Broncos is on the upswing in time for the stretch run.
The team ran for 136 yards against the New York Giants and a week ago amassed 245 yards on the ground against Kansas City's defense.
“I think we are pleased with what we've done the last few weeks,” Denver coach Josh McDaniels said. “We've done it by showing improvement in a number of areas.”
That includes Denver's output on short-yardage and goal line situations and a reduction to almost no negative plays when the Broncos are running.
“We struggled a little bit in the middle of the year with our short yardage and goal line,” McDaniels said. “Last week it was important for us to convert a few of those and also shore up on the goal line.”
One of the most successful short-yardage plays came early in the fourth quarter of the Kansas City game. On fourth-and 1 from the Chiefs 18, rookie Knowshon Moreno scooted around the left side of the line, down the sideline and into the end zone.
“The biggest thing we've always talked about is negative plays and last week I think we had 45 carries and one negative run,” said McDaniels. “That's a good percentage for us and as long as we continue to do that, I think we will be effective running the ball.”
“It was always there, it was just a missed read here and there,” Moreno said of the running game. “I think we're coming together more and trying to make the best of our opportunities.”
And just in time for the Broncos' upcoming matchup with the unbeaten Indianapolis Colts.
During film sessions, Denver's running game didn't get unnoticed by Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell.
“They are a very talented team, first of all, and they have a really strong running attack, too,” Caldwell said. “Two outstanding backs that are doing a great job.”
Two backs, the young Moreno and 31-year old Correll Buckhalter, who are a perfect complement to each other.
“Buck is a little faster, has a great burst and gets to the edge on his speed,” McDaniels said. “Knowshon is a little bit of a slippery runner inside the tackles, has a little more spin moves and does it in a different way.”
“I feed off of him and he feeds off of me,” Buckhalter said of Moreno. “The guy plays with lot of tenacity and emotion and he makes me feel young.”
Moreno leads all NFL rookies with 774 rushing yards. Buckhalter has rushed for 563 yards.