Winners and losers: Phillip Lindsay dominates as Broncos win third straight

Phillip Lindsay and Courtland Sutton run. Credit: Aaron Doster, USA TODAY Sports.
Phillip Lindsay and Courtland Sutton run. Credit: Aaron Doster, USA TODAY Sports.

The Denver Broncos are on a roll.

Really, their three-game win streak is incredible considering the Broncos were written off by many mid-way through this season.

As Tony Romo said last week during the Steelers win, though, the Broncos have been through “murderer’s row” in terms of their opponents, and somehow found a way to knock off not only the Chargers and Steelers, but the Bengals in Cincinnati facing a must-win game, too.

Now at 6-6, the Broncos have a chance to run off three more wins against terrible teams before facing the Chargers for the season finale, which will likely hold Denver’s playoff fate as well.

But, for this Bengals game, we saw Phillip Lindsay go wild, some great play by Case Keenum and more. Let’s look at the winners and losers in our 3-up and 3-down:

3 Up

Phillip Lindsay was dynamic and deadly for Denver. While the Broncos have won the last three games, the rookie running back has taken off. Against Cincinnati, we saw Lindsay at his absolute best. He hit the hole with speed and reckless abandon, disallowing defenders the ability to react to him, taking off for big gains. He also used his quickness to go through holes and around the edge on his 65-yard run to the house.

All told, Lindsay rushed a mere 19 times for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Over the last three games he’s carried the pigskin for 346 yards and five scores; he’s on fire and should be given the ball much more.

Case Keenum, again, didn’t turn the ball over. And the Broncos, again, won. Keenum wasn’t perfect, he was merely mediocre at 12-21 for 151 yards and one touchdown, but he was good enough to lead the Broncos to a win. With Lindsay playing like a man possessed, Keenum didn’t have to do much, but making sure to control the ball well and not turn it over was again key.

Courtland Sutton has become a legitimate beast. With Demaryius Thomas off the team, Sutton has the chance to be the go-to, go-up-and-get-it receiver. Sutton led the Broncos with four receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown, including a 30-yard catch. He so big and strong, Sutton boxes out smaller defenders for catches with ease. Much like with Lindsay, he does the difficult seemingly effortlessly.

3 Down

The most glaring downside of the win was Darian Stewart. Stewart was an absolute liability in the back end of the defense, yet again. He was caught flat-footed on multiple big plays by the Ravens, including Cody Core’s touchdown, the Bengals’ only of the day. Instead of continually pursuing the ball-carrier, he stopped and allowed Core to get to the house.

Bill Musgrave’s play-calling again didn’t feature Phillip Lindsay enough. Before the game, we called for a heavy dose of Lindsay, and he did well with the career-high 19 carries. But, Musgrave should have fed Lindsay more late in the fourth quarter instead of giving it to Royce Freeman. Freeman fumbled, and even after that, was inserted for another drive. Instead, Lindsay should have salted the game away with big runs. Ride the hot hand. It should be simple as that.

Chris Harris Jr. is the final “down” of the day for Denver. Though, it wasn’t really his fault. Harris broke his fibula, meaning he’s likely done for the rest of the season. That really hurts Denver’s defense, but as always, it’s “next man up” for the Broncos DBs. Harris’ injury occurred when he was making a tackle and linebacker Todd Davis slid into help, but Davis’ shin hit Harris’ and made the bone break in the cornerback’s right leg.

The Broncos, now 6-6, face the 2-10 San Francisco 49ers next week at 2 p.m. MT in California.