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Paul Klee: Only one thing stands between Denver Broncos and the title of Super Bowl contender

By: Paul Klee
September 17, 2017 Updated: September 18, 2017 at 8:01 am
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Denver Broncos tight end Virgil Green (85) runs in for a touchdown during the game on Sunday September 17, 2017 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).

DENVER — That’s how you mess with Texas.

Broncos 42, Cowboys 17.

After the show — and what a show it was — I saw only one way the Denver Broncos aren’t season-long Super Bowl contenders: if Trevor Siemian gets hurt. He’s the answer at quarterback, for now and from now on — when he’s healthy. Siemian and a balanced offense looked at the Dallas star and saw only a green light. Go!

At one point Sunday during the demolition, when the score at Mile High was 28-10, the Broncos had 321 total yards. The Cowboys had 97. Hold your head up, Dak. The "No Fly Zone" doesn't play favorites. Just ask Aaron, Cam and Tom.

Denver dominated Dallas, again, with a sixth straight win against dem 'Boys. The Broncos were better at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, linebacker, defensive line, coaching staff and, most definitely, in Aqib Talib’s secondary.

Denver Broncos offensive tackle Menelik Watson (75) hugs Denver Broncos offensive tackle Garett Bolles (72) as Bolles was carted off with an injury during the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Denver Broncos offensive tackle Menelik Watson (75) hugs Denver Broncos offensive tackle Garett Bolles (72) as Bolles was carted off with an injury during the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) 

“I wanted to run all the way up in the stands and get a hot dog,” said the hot dog, after his 103-yard interception return for a touchdown and ‘Lib Leap into the South Stands.

Play was paused for 62 minutes due to a lightning threat. It should have been stopped, period. This was no contest. Von Miller said they passed the time during the delay with games of Connect 4, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a dance-off. Then the defense TKO’d the Cowboys. Thanks to Adam Gotsis and the big heavies up front, Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott ran for 8 yards — 100 fewer than his career average. Denver's offense ran a victory lap.

And the man in the middle is the man nobody wanted — not then, when Siemian wasn’t drafted until the seventh round, not now, when Denver held a second-straight QB competition. Once wasn’t enough?

This was no easy task, beating the Cowboys, the NFC's No. 1 seed a year ago.

“It might surprise you guys,” Talib said. “It doesn’t surprise us.”

It will be no easy task keeping Siemian healthy — the No. 1 seed on the Broncos’ to-do list.

When Garett Bolles, the first-rounder and starting left tackle, crumpled to the turf with a “lower body injury,” a hockey term borrowed by football people, the season flashed before their eyes. More will be known Monday. Here’s what his wife, Natalie Bolles, said on Twitter, most likely the last time the Broncos allow Mrs. Bolles to give an injury report: “Looks like a high ankle sprain. Possible foot injury, but the X-ray was inconclusive. MRI (on Monday).”

No matter the result, the Broncos must look high and low for an offensive tackle. One option could be a trade for Houston left tackle Duane Brown, who is holding out in a contract dispute, if the Texans are looking to punt on their uninspiring 1-1 start and stockpile draft picks. At right tackle, Menelik Watson isn’t working out. At left tackle, the Broncos fear Bolles, who left the locker room with a bummed-out look in a walking boot and on crutches, could have a broken ankle, according to ESPN sleuth Adam Schefter. It is not an Achilles injury, the Broncos PR staff said.

In the middle is Siemian, who, it’s been written here, is exactly as excellent as he looked, when he’s healthy. Siemian checks all the boxes of a quarterback you want: Brains, arm strength, mobility, a captain’s "C" — except one. He gets hurt a lot. The only way the Broncos fizzle and fade is if Brock Osweiler or Paxton Lynch is forced into action. The only way one of them is forced into action is if the offensive line breaks down. They must protect this Trevor.

“He’s a flick of the arm, Aaron Rodgers-type guy,” Emmanuel Sanders said after Siemian threw four touchdown passes. “I’m not saying he’s Aaron Rodgers. But that’s my quarterback.”

Amazing what a capable running game and proper health can do for a guy, huh?

“We’re only two games into the season,” Siemian said. “I’ve seen how quickly things in this league can change.”

Afterward, in the locker room, the Broncos crowed like the Super Bowl 50 champs used to crow.

“We’re the best defense in the NFL,” Brandon Marshall said.

“If we didn’t have those turnovers, I don’t think they even would’ve had three points,” Demaryius Thomas said.

“We were going to load the box and play man (coverage), just like we did against Cam Newton,” Chris Harris Jr. said.

On his route to the locker room, Harris paused momentarily to high-five a woman walking the other direction. It was Annabel Bowlen. “How you doing, Mrs. B?” She smiled and gave Harris a hug.

Sunday was a glimpse at how complete these Broncos can be — if they take the necessary moves to make certain Siemian stays healthy.

Twitter: @bypaulklee

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