Updated: December 14, 2009 at 12:00 am
ENGLEWOOD – By Josh McDaniels’ count, the Broncos forced the ball to Brandon Marshall on Sunday only one or two times. The rest of his NFL record 21 NFL catches came within the flow of the offense.
Marshall’s game at Indianapolis was one of the best individual performances in franchise history. He was just the third Broncos player to reach 200 yards receiving in a game, and had two touchdowns. How it came to be is almost as surprising as the feat itself. McDaniels said Monday the team “didn’t do anything special” to get him the ball.
“He certainly wasn't first in all of those progressions either,” McDaniels said about Marshall’s 28 targets. “It’s just they covered somebody else and the read took us there or he was the first option and they didn't have him covered well enough so the ball went there.”
The Colts kept single coverage on the outside receivers even as Marshall piled up catches. That didn’t surprise McDaniels, because he said the Colts don’t abandon what they do well, and on defense they don’t give up big plays with that coverage. Marshall didn’t have a catch longer than 23 yards and, as McDaniels pointed out, Indianapolis gave up only 16 points and won.
The record will be tough to duplicate. Hall-of-Fame receiver Michael Irvin said he didn’t know if anyone would ever catch more than 20 passes again.
“I don’t know if people understand how difficult that is, how great that is,” Irvin said. “It’s an incredible thing, and some of the plays he made were phenomenal. I wish I could have done some of that.”
Rookie safety Darcel McBath, the team’s leader in special-teams tackles, was put on injured reserve with a broken right forearm. Denver signed veteran safety Vernon Fox to replace him.
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