In the Denver Broncos 27-7 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, both teams lost key players in the second quarter. However, only one team took advantage of the situation.

While the entire talk on Sunday revolved around the injury to Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian and his replacement rookie Paxton Lynch, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quietly lost their best player, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.

In the first 18 minutes of the game, with Siemian playing quarterback, the Broncos running game was absolutely abysmal carrying the ball, and the coaches knew it too. During that time the Broncos only ran the ball three times for a combined one-yard and it had seemed like the coaches all but gave up on the running game.

That was until three minutes into the second quarter when McCoy, a brilliant run stuffer, suffered a calf injury and did not return to the game.

The running game immediately picked up steam in McCoy’s absence. From that point forward the Broncos ran the ball 29 times for 88 yards with an average of 3.03 yards per carry.

Although three yards per run is nothing to write home about, in fact it’s below average, it is incredibly better than the 0.33 yards per carry that they averaged before McCoy left the game.

Tampa Bay did not see an equivalent momentum shift when Siemian left the game just before the 2:00 warning of the first half. In fact, 195 of Denver’s 307 yards of total offense came with the rookie, Lynch, at quarterback.

McCoy’s exit also opened the running game up to include rookie Devontae Booker and former Colorado State Ram Kapri Bibbs. The first three carries of the game all went to C.J. Anderson, but the remaining 29 carries were divided up between the three.

Both Booker and Bibbs provided great sparks off of the bench for an otherwise lackluster running attack. Booker carried the ball seven times for 30 yards and Bibbs added 14 yards on three. Anderson ended the day with 19 carries for 49 yards with the worst average among the group with just 2.6 yards per carry; he did find the end zone, however, for Denver’s only rushing touchdown.

Coming off of a poor rushing game against the Cincinnati Bengals last week — 23 carries for 52 yards — the Broncos running game didn’t do much against the Buccaneers to restore confidence in that aspect of the offense. However, just like great teams do, they took advantage and stepped their game up once Tampa Bay’s best player, McCoy, left the game.