CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- It's not who and what, but how. The Broncos won Monday night, boxing the ears of the road hapless Houston Texans. The manner in which Denver stomped to its fifth victory stood alone in its significance. The Broncos shoved the ball down Houston's throat.
They ran for a season-high 190 yards. C.J. Anderson collected 107, again feeding off doubters like Jaws does swimmers. They held the Texans without a touchdown, and quarterback Brock Osweiler's 131 yards were the second fewest ever by a quarterback with at least 40 attempts.
"We challenged the team," coach Gary Kubiak said.
In the end, the game wasn't about Brock's return, but Kubiak's. In his first game since a complex migraine sidelined him, Kubiak received the game ball. Cornerback Aqib Talib made the spirited presentation that will not be featured on the Hallmark Channel.
"The mother-[******] leader back!!" Talib bellowed as teammates cheered.
The Broncos arrived Monday night at a crossroads. They can't win without a running game. The offensive blueprint calls for gash plays on the ground to force cornerbacks into man coverage. Running back Devontae Booker and fullback Andy Janovich blossomed. Kubiak praised the rookies, saying they continue develop and become more comfortable in the offense. The pair complemented the hard-charging Anderson.
"When we were watching film we could just talk about anything on what we saw and what we like to run and pitch it to our coach," Booker said. "We were just out there running our butts off and punishing defenders."
It started upfront. Center Matt Paradis continued pushing for a Pro Bowl berth with another solid performance. And guards Michael Schofield and Max Garcia played arguably their best game together after struggling in the previous two games.
"Being committed to the run, staying involved and staying with what we were doing I think really helped us play better," Kubiak said. "And the good news is that it allowed us to put the ball down field (in the passing game). We didn't hit it early, but I think it helped us at the end of the game."
Quarterback Trevor Siemian, who outplayed Osweiler, grew up Monday, given added responsibilities with audibles. Listening to Kubiak, Siemian played Peyton Manning Lite with his pre-snap reads against the Texans.
"He did a great job of getting our team in some great runs. He's not making some of the mistakes he made earlier in the year," Kubiak said of Siemian, who is 5-1 as a starter. "Trevor had a lot to do with us running the ball so well."
- Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (right forearm) is expected to resume practice this week, but remains unlikely to play vs. the Chargers. He is five weeks removed from his fracture, leaving the Raiders game the following week a more realistic return date.
- Inside linebacker Brandon Marshall suffered a hamstring injury in the second half of Monday's victory. He told Denver7 on Tuesday, that it's "too early to tell" if he will be able to play Sunday against the Chargers. If he can't go, it will lead to additional reps for Corey Nelson. Nelson impressed coaches against the Texans in his 18 defensive snaps.
- With receiver Cody Latimer a healthy scratch after clearing the concussion protocol, Bennie Fowler and Jordan Taylor played a combined 31 snaps.
- Safety T.J. Ward led the Broncos with eight tackles. His ability to play down the in the box, even though he's roughly 12 pounds lighter than his first year in Denver, gives the Broncos versatility. "It's hard to find those guys," Kubiak said.