Reason for thanks: Broncos end four-game skid with big win over Giants

DENVER -- Josh McDaniels is an emotional coach who stocked his roster with passionate players.

All of them were on full display on Thanksgiving night in the Denver Broncos' 26-6 victory over the New York Giants.

Brian Dawkins' inspired play led a Denver defensive revival and the offense did its part by controlling the clock in a slump-busting win.

The NFL Network joined the fray by accidentally airing a clip of McDaniels cursing at his players after they committed three false starts and dropped a pass in a five-play sequence that really got his blood boiling. Online Extra

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In an interview with The Associated Press and the Denver Post, Eric Weinberger, executive producer of the NFL Network, apologized to viewers and McDaniels for the "terrible mistake."

"It was on delay. We wish we would have caught it and bleeped it," Weinberger said. "We apologize for ever airing anything like that, absolutely, especially on Thanksgiving."

While the Broncos (7-4) still aren't effective enough in the red zone and draw too many yellow flags for McDaniels' taste, their month of misery is over.

Kyle Orton drove them on six scoring drives, Matt Prater kicked four field goals and Dawkins led a ferocious defense 48 hours after calling a players-only meeting that obviously struck a chord.

Elvis Dumervil dumped Eli Manning twice, extending his NFL-leading sack total to 14, the second of which resulted in a fourth-quarter fumble that sealed Denver's first win since Oct. 19.

Hosting their first Thanksgiving game since 1963 in the AFL, the Broncos returned to the physical style of play that marked their 6-0 start and ditched the sieve that was their defense during their four-game skid.

Behind three takeaways, the Broncos halted their freefall and pulled within a half game of AFC West leader San Diego. New York (6-5), which had snapped its four-game losing streak on Sunday, fell two games behind Dallas, which beat Oakland earlier Thursday, in the NFC East.

Four downs



» The Broncos won their first Thanksgiving home game in franchise history and are 4-7 all-time on the holiday.

» Denver rookie RB Knowshon Moreno (88 yards on 19 carries) has finished with 75 rushing yards or more in six games this season.

» The Giants had season lows in total yards (267), points (6) and rushing yards (57).

» The Giants are 7-7-1 all-time on Thanksgiving and 1-4 all-time in Denver.

"We didn't have any tempo and we didn't make any plays," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "We keep talking about winning the physical battle and controlling the line of scrimmage. We thought this would be the night and it wasn't."

The Giants have lost five of six since their 5-0 start.

"We can deal with being 6-5, but we need to play better football," said Manning, who was sacked three times and threw an interception while failing to reach the end zone in 11 drives.

"We're a good football team," Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora said. "We just played bad today. ... From here on our, every game is a must-win."

The Broncos outgained the Giants 213-38 in the first half but settled for field goals on three drives, including their first two trips inside the Giants 10-yard line as they continued their monthlong red zone struggles.

That led to the NFL Network's mistake.

After reaching the 7, the Broncos settled for Prater's 22-yarder and a 3-0 lead. Their second trip inside the Giants 10-yard line turned into a game of flag football as tight end Daniel Graham, left tackle Ryan Clady and center Casey Wiegmann all were whistled for false starts, and the Broncos sent out Prater for a 32-yarder that made it 6-0.

Coming out of a commercial break, the NFL Network showed a clip of McDaniels yelling at his players on the sideline saying, "All we're trying to do is win a (expletive) game!"

The vulgarity was clearly audible to viewers, and announcer Bob Papa immediately apologized on air.

"It's the NFL Network," McDaniels said with a shrug and a smile. "Doesn't surprise me."

What was his message, edited for family entertainment?

"We can't false-start in the red zone," McDaniels said. "We went over there and tried to have a little bit of an eye-to-eye, that's what that was."

McDaniels has shown emotion on the sideline before. He often tells his players and assistants to listen to the message and not the way it's delivered. He'll fist-up like Tiger Woods one game and curse to his guys the next.

Weinberger said it's not up to McDaniels to have to watch what he says, either.

"We're not in this business to do that," Weinberger said of the network's blunder. "We're in this business to show sports and to show the most emotion that we can show. And the guy is an incredibly emotional, passionate guy."

McDaniels doesn't try to keep his emotions bottled up. Nor does he want his players to, even though they lost their cool in a 32-3 beatdown by the Chargers on Sunday.


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"I think when you get it channeled in the right direction it can be a positive," McDaniels said. "It sometimes can go in a wrong direction. But I'm happy that I have those guys in the locker room with us every week. I love to go to work. I love to coach them. We have a lot of fun doing what we do."

Brandon Marshall, who got into a sideline spat with running back Knowshon Moreno last week, is another very emotional player. He made a pair of incredible one-handed catches against the Giants that covered 28 and 33 yards.

Denver finally capitalized on its good field position after Dawkins recovered a fumble by backup running back Danny Ware at the Giants 38.

Marshall's leaping one-handed 28-yard catch set up Moreno's 1-yard TD run that made it 13-0, and Prater added a 47-yarder to give the Broncos a 16-0 halftime lead.

The last time the Giants had gone into the locker room at halftime without any points was Jan. 8, 2006, in a wild-card playoff game against Carolina.

Lawrence Tynes kicked field goals of 39 and 52 yards in the third quarter to pull the Giants to 16-6, but Brandon Stokley's 17-yard TD catch from Orton made it 23-6 and Prater added a 24-yard field goal.

Notes: Giants with injuries included TE Darcy Johnson (shoulder) and S Michael Johnson (groin). ... Broncos WR-KR Eddie Royal injured a thigh late in the first half and LB Wesley Woodyard left the game in the fourth quarter with a neck injury after DL Marcus Thomas went out with a shoulder injury.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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