OT Touchdown Was Just Like Broncos Drew It Up — at Halftime

Demaryius Thomas

Demaryius Thomas's stiff-arm on Pittsburgh cornerback Ike Taylor came on a play that wasn't in the Broncos' plans until halftime Sunday. (PHOTO: DENVER BRONCOS)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Don’t ever say that Mike McCoy and the Broncos’ offense can’t change plans on the fly. Their season is still alive today because they did precisely that.

“The touchdown pass to Demaryius (Thomas) — we drew that up at halftime,” McCoy revealed Wednesday at a press conference at Broncos headquarters.

Added Thomas: “He actually had drew it up at halftime on the board and drew the safeties and corners in their spot.

“We saw some things that we were doing in the game, just from running the ball (such as) how the safety was coming down. We drew it up and said it might come to this play at the end of the game or during the game if we need it.”

Said McCoy: “It was one of those deals where we were waiting for the right opportunity to call it.”

That came on the first snap of overtime.

“I was talking to Demaryius before the overtime series, and I said, ‘If we win the toss, this is what we’re going to go to,” McCoy recalled. “If they play the right coverage, we can end it in a hurry — or if they play a different defense, we still have a good play. We had great run action and protection up front, and we were very fortunate that the safety came down from the backside.

“We told Demaryius, ‘If they play certain coverage, it can be one and done.’ Fortunately that’s the way it happened.”

Such adaptability has become routine for McCoy, who acknowledged in December that the unique nature of the Broncos’ read-option-heavy run game — and the ensuing inability to gauge anything about a defense’s potential reaction from film review — forced the Broncos to make in-game tactical tweaks.

Such changes helped win the game in Minnesota on Dec. 4, when the Vikings played the read-option effectively but couldn’t slow down the Broncos when they reverted to power runs out of the I-formation, which helped set up deep shots to Thomas downfield. As a result, the Broncos’ offense scored 25 points in the second half after being shut out in the first.

“With Tim (Tebow) playing quarterback, they’ve got to defend more than just your traditional offense,” McCoy said. “There’s a lot of things we’re going to do. Going into each week’s game plan, what you see on film the three or four weeks previously is probably not going to be what you see for the entire game.”

This ability to make plans — and then alter them, both for the entire season and a single game, has earned the respect of his players.

“He’s a genius when it comes to the offense,” said running back Lance Ball. “He’s just in there all the time. He’s a perfectionist. He wants his guys to play hard for him. That’s what you want out of an offensive coordinator.”

But McCoy deflected the credit.

“Good players make good coaches.  That’s the way it is,” McCoy said.

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About Andrew Mason

Andrew Mason has covered the NFL since 1999, when he worked as an editor on NFL.com when the site was managed by ESPN.com. He worked six seasons (2002-07) covering the Broncos on their official website and two (2008-09) on the Panthers' site. He began MaxDenver.com in 2010 and now contributes to CBSSports.com, The Sporting News and The New York Times.

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