2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Mitch Unrein helps Broncos beat Bucs 31-23

By ARNIE STAPLETON - AP Pro Football Writer
    2012-12-03 04:03

DENVER (AP) - What Mitch Unrein lacks in dance moves he more than makes up for in shock value.

The second-year defensive lineman out of Wyoming helped the Denver Broncos wrap up their second straight AFC West title Sunday with their seventh straight win, a less-than-perfect but oh-so-pretty 31-23 win over the feisty Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Unrein caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to open the scoring, then came free for the big hit on Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman that forced a bad throw that ended up in Von Miller's hands for the game's biggest play.

Miller's pick-6 marked the first career interception and the first career touchdown for last year's Defensive Rookie of the Year, who is making a stronger case by the week for Defensive Player of the Year honors.

And it put this game out of reach at 28-10.

Miller did a hip-swaying jig in the end zone, unlike Unrein, who became the first defensive lineman to catch a touchdown pass in Broncos history and celebrated with a big-time spike - followed by a mad scramble to retrieve the football.

``After I spiked it, I was, like, `Uh, oh, where'd it go?'' Unrein said. ``Luckily, I got it back.''

He left the dancing to Miller, though.

``I have two left feet as they say. I can two-step a little bit, country dance,'' Unrein said. ``It all happened so fast I didn't know what to do.''

Unrein trotted onto the field on first-and-goal from the 1 and lined up at fullback.

``Certainly when you put a big D-lineman in there, a lot of times the defense is thinking run,'' Manning said.

Unrein, though, slipped into the left flat and hauled in Manning's floater in stride.

``It was a Willie Mays catch,'' marveled teammate Kevin Vickerson. ``It was over the shoulder just like Mays.''

And it seemed the hang in the air for just as long as Vic Wertz's drive to the warning track in the 1954 World Series, too.

``It felt like a really long time when that ball was floating toward me,'' Unrein said. ``I was like, `Don't drop it. Don't drop it.' Luckily, it hit my hands and I caught it. That's why I wrapped it up with both hands and stood there for a second and was like, `I just scored a touchdown. That's pretty cool.'

``Then, afterward, I had no dance, no skills like Von Miller.''

Although the Broncos had put in the trick play at practice several weeks ago - and Unrein said he caught it every time - the play surprised teammate Champ Bailey.

``Not that they threw to him, but that he caught it,'' Bailey noted. ``Too many times you see a defensive player run a route, be wide open and he drops it. He got his hands up and caught it.''

It sure stunned the Buccaneers.

``You never prepare for that play,'' safety Ronde Barber said. ``It happens. There isn't much you can do about it. It never had shown up on film.''

About 90 minutes later, Unrein helped Miller get into the end zone for his first career TD, coming through the line unblocked and hitting Freeman just as he threw toward Vincent Jackson.

The ball floated into Miller's hands at the 26 and he ran untouched into the end zone.

``I only had some O-linemen in front of me,'' Miller said. ``I felt like my odds were pretty good.''

Miller's touchdown came just after Demaryius Thomas' second straight TD catch from Manning, whose 29 touchdown throws this season surpassed Jake Plummer and John Elway for the most scoring tosses in a single season for the Broncos.

``You look at that type of swing that a pick-6 is from a mental standpoint, from a point standpoint, it's tough to overcome,'' said Freeman, who completed 18 of 39 passes for 242 yards.

The Broncos (9-3) won their seventh straight and wrapped up a date in January in the playoffs, though there were no whoops and hollers in the locker room.

``It's one step,'' Bailey said. ``It's not like we've done everything we want to do.''

The Bucs (6-6), surprising contenders under first-year coach Greg Schiano, fell a game behind Seattle for the second NFC wild-card spot and their loss clinched the NFC South for Atlanta.

The Broncos held Tampa Bay rookie Doug Martin to 56 yards on 18 carries.

Manning went 27 for 38 for 242 yards, as the Broncos scored 30-plus points for the sixth time over their seven-game win streak. Despite Denver's big numbers, which included eight catches for 99 yards for Thomas and nine receptions for 89 yards from tight end Jacob Tamme, this was another far-from-perfect effort from the Broncos' offense.

Manning was frustrated in the first half as a series of penalties, off-target throws and missed protections kept him biding his time on the bench. The only real highlight came at the end of his first drive - the 1-yard touchdown pass to Unrein.

Freeman countered with an 11-yard scoring strike to Manning's friend and former top target in Indianapolis, Dallas Clark.

After that early touchdown drive, Freeman never got comfortable again, although he led the Bucs on a 47-yard TD drive that made it 31-23 with 2:33 left. Eric Decker recovered the onside kick and Denver lined up in victory formation twice. Schiano, as is his wont, had his players fire off the ball.

``After the game he came up and told me on the end-of-game play he didn't mean any harm,'' Manning said. ``And I appreciated that comment.''

NOTES: Broncos K Matt Prater missed from 47 yards, making him 2 for 5 from 40 to 49 yards this season and 15 for 17 from everywhere else, including 3 for 4 from 50-plus. ... Bucs CB LeQuan Lewis appeared to sustain a serious leg injury in the closing minutes on special teams.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

---

Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Captain MunnerlynAug 20 09:58a

After starting the season sharing No. 1 duties with Josh Robinson, Minnesota Vikings CB Captain Munnerlyn appears to have won the starting left corner job outright. Robinson has missed [ More ]

Jerrel JerniganAug 20 09:20a

New York Giants WRs Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan and Mario Manningham have not made many big plays this preseason. Cruz initially caught a long play-action pass Saturday, [ More ]

Brian HoyerAug 20 08:53a

Cleveland Browns QB Brian Hoyer has been named the starting quarterback over QB Johnny Manziel. Head coach Mike Pettine wrote the announcement in an e-mail and said Manziel made [ More ]

Lance BriggsAug 20 08:43a

Chicago Bears LB Lance Briggs (knee), OG Brian de la Puente (knee), OG Eben Britton (hamstring) and CB Isaiah Frey (hamstring) missed practice Tuesday, Aug. 19. TE Dante Rosario [ More ]

Jordan MillsAug 20 08:23a

Chicago Bears OT Jordan Mills (foot) is in danger of missing Week 1. He has worn a walking boot sporadically throughout camp after January surgery to repair a broken metatarsal in his left foot.

Santonio HolmesAug 20 05:33a

The Chicago Bears and WR Santonio Holmes reached agreement on a minimum salary benefit contract for Holmes that offers no guaranteed money. Holmes signed with the Bears on Saturday, [ More ]

Colt LyerlaAug 20 01:33a

Updating a previous report, Green Bay Packers TE Colt Lyerla (knee), who was waived/injured Tuesday, Aug. 19, could move to fullback in the future, according to tight ends coach [ More ]

Alterraun VernerAug 20 12:03a

Tampa Bay Buccaneer CB Alterraun Verner (hamstring) returned to practice Tuesday, Aug. 19, but head coach Lovie Smith said he may not play in the team's preseason game Sunday, Aug. 24.

Mike DevitoAug 20 12:03a

Kansas City Chiefs DT Mike DeVito (hand) and DE Mike Catapano (illness) returned to practice Tuesday, Aug. 19. Catapano worked with the first-team during pass-rushing drills.

Colt LyerlaAug 19 11:43p

Green Bay Packers TE Colt Lyerla (knee) will likely be placed on Injured Reserve after he clears waivers, according to Lyerla's agent, Vinnie Porter. 'So to put him on [ More ]

Jerome SimpsonAug 19 11:33p

Minnesota Vikings WR Jerome Simpson said Tuesday, Aug. 19, that he told the truth when he met with NFL hearings officer Harold Henderson to appeal a three-game suspension stemming [ More ]

Brandon LloydAug 19 10:23p

San Francisco 49ers WR Brandon Lloyd has developed a bond with WR Anquan Boldin and is in good position to make the final 53-man roster.

Tyler WilsonAug 19 10:23p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Rex Burkhead (knee), CB Darqueze Dennard (hip), TE Tyler Eifert (shoulder), DE Wallace Gilberry (undisclosed), DE Dontay Moch (undisclosed), OL Mike Pollak (knee), WR Dane Sanzenbacher [ More ]

Nick CollinsAug 19 10:23p

Free-agent S Nick Collins (Packers) officially announced his retirement from the NFL Tuesday, Aug. 19, on his official Twitter account.

Kenjon BarnerAug 19 10:13p

The Philadelphia Eagles acquired RB Kenjon Barner from the Carolina Panthers Tuesday, Aug. 19, for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2015.

Andre SmithAug 19 10:13p

Cincinnati CB Dre Kirkpatrick (hip), LB Sean Porter (knee) and OT Andre Smith (concussion) returned to practice Tuesday, Aug. 19.

D.J. HaydenAug 19 10:03p

Oakland Raiders CB D.J. Hayden (foot) will be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list next week if the team doesn't believe he will healthy enough to start [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsAug 19 09:33p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (ribs) returned to practice on a limited basis Tuesday, Aug. 19. Watkins said he could play in a game, but head coach Doug Marrone [ More ]

Dimitri PattersonAug 19 09:13p

New York Jets CB Dimitri Patterson (leg) said he hopes to play in the team's preseason game Friday, Aug. 22, and said there is 'no doubt' he will be [ More ]

Darnell DockettAug 19 09:13p

Arizona Cardinals DE Frostee Rucker will have the first shot at replacing DT Darnell Dockett (knee), and he will start in Dockett's position at practice Wednesday, Aug. 20. DE [ More ]

Jake LongAug 19 09:03p

St. Louis Ram OT Jake Long (knee), LB James Laurinaitis (ankle), DE Michael Brockers (ankle) and CB Janoris Jenkins (undisclosed) could all play in the team's preseason game Saturday, Aug. 23.

Champ BaileyAug 19 08:43p

New Orleans Saints DE Akiem Hicks (undisclosed) and CB Champ Bailey (undisclosed) were held out of team drills during practice Tuesday, Aug. 19.

Glenn DorseyAug 19 08:33p

San Francisco 49ers DT Glenn Dorsey (biceps) will have one more MRI to see how his torn bicep is healing before the team decides if he can return at some point this season.

Ben GrubbsAug 19 08:33p

New Orleans Saints OG Ben Grubbs (undisclosed) and WR Brandin Cooks (illness) missed practice Tuesday, Aug. 19. Cooks is dealing with a stomach virus, and Grubbs left practice early [ More ]

Casey HaywardAug 19 08:23p

Green Bay Packers CB Casey Hayward (undisclosed) was limited in practice Tuesday, Aug. 19. Head coach Mike McCarthy said the move was precautionary because of his injury history. Hayward [ More ]

Steven JacksonAug 19 07:43p

Atlanta Falcons RB Steven Jackson (hamstring) and OT Gabe Carimi (ankle) did not practice Tuesday, Aug. 19.

Brett KeiselAug 19 06:13p

The Pittsburgh Steelers and free-agent DE Brett Keisel (Steelers) have agreed to an undisclosed deal, according to a source.

Pat DevlinAug 19 05:43p

The Miami Dolphins placed QB Pat Devlin (hamstring) on no-recall waivers from Reserve/Injured with an injury settlement.

Rodger SaffoldAug 19 05:33p

St. Louis Rams DT Michael Brockers (ankle), OT Rodger Saffold (neck), FB Kadeem Jones (undisclosed) and SS Matt Daniels (ankle) returned to practice Tuesday, Aug. 19.

Dimitri PattersonAug 19 05:03p

New York Jets CB Dimitri Patterson (leg), C Nick Mangold and RB Chris Ivory returned to practice Tuesday, Aug. 19.

Marcus GilbertAug 19 04:53p

Pittsburgh Steelers OT Marcus Gilbert has signed a six-year contract extension. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Josh GordonAug 19 04:43p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon could have shown more effort on a couple plays during the team's Monday night game against the Washington Redskins, according to head coach Mike Pettine.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group