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Published on 12/16/2012 at Sun Dec 16 09:00.
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Peyton Manning comments to side judge Greg Bradley in the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

Many a fan of the Denver Broncos has nearly rolled their eyes of their collective sockets as third and long has become an obvious running situation for the team this season.

It never fails, 3rd and 11? Run the ball… 3rd and 17? Run the ball… 3rd and 7? Yep, run the ball…

Now, why is that?

The reason could be quite the revelation.

Peyton Manning, ever the chess player, is simply using the opportunity to read the defense…

Now I have been probably amongst the worst of the accusers, labeling it ‘Foxball’, blaming every one from John Fox, to Mike McCoy, to Manning himself. However, with a deeper dive into the numbers, arm chair analysis and a little of the old common sense I have realized that those four yard runs on third and long simply just allow the Sheriff another opportunity to read, memorize and later take advantage of the defense.

That’s not just homerism either, here are the numbers:

  • Denver has had 170 third downs through Week Fourteen.
  • The Broncos have converted on 75 of those third downs, that’s 44.1%.
  • Denver ranks fifth in the NFL in third down conversions.
  • New England (52.5%), Dallas (44.9%), Atlanta (44.6%) and Pittsburgh (44.3%) are the only teams that rank above the Broncos in third down conversions.

While half of the company that is ahead of Denver in third down conversions are struggling to achieve playoff berths, the other two are arguably the best teams in the AFC and NFC. Now just for fun I’ll tell you that the Broncos are tied for eight in the NFL for fourth down conversions with five attempts and three conversions (60%).

Important lessons come late in the year and this is one fans will have to learn to swallow for as long as Manning is on the roster. Rewards will come later…

  • Tim Lynch

    Did McGahee drop one of those easy 4th down conversions? ;)

  • Draper

    Yes haha

  • carsonic

    I like that analysis. I also think it’s playing with a lead, (therefore) playing safe, and placing well-deserved trust in special teams and defense.