Well, the Broncos would be hard-pressed to get more production per play from anybody this side of Peyton Manning than they have from Holliday. Sunday was Holliday’s 16th game with the Broncos, last January’s playoff game included. His 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter of their runaway win over the Eagles was his sixth touchdown return for the team.
Since being claimed off waivers from the Texans, Holliday has three kickoff returns for touchdowns and three punt returns for touchdowns. He returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown earlier this season.
“It’s cool, we work to make those things happen,’’ Holliday said. “Those guys get it blocked and a lot of times I just have to beat the kicker. I always feel like I have it when that happens.’’
“I didn’t see the entire film,’’ said Eagles coach Chip Kelly, “but I know there was a pretty big hole.’’
But for a quirk of the NFL calendar and a slice of good fortune, Holliday would be doing all of that elsewhere right now. The Broncos were on the hunt for a returner last season following a loss to the New England Patriots that dropped them to 2-3. The Texans, in need of help at linebacker because Brian Crushing had suffered a season-ending knee injury, placed Holliday on waivers. The Broncos and the Colts put in claims and the Broncos were awarded Holliday on the basis of record since the Colts were 2-2 at the time.
Had the claims come just a week earlier the Colts would have gotten Holliday. Week 6 is the first week of the season when waiver claims are awarded on current records rather than the previous season’s. The Colts had finished with the league's worst record in 2011, the Broncos were 8-8.
“It’s worked out here, I feel like this is the place for me,’’ Holliday said. “I just wanted to contribute as soon as I could here. I wanted to find a role and make the most of it.’’
Check that off the list. For the Broncos it's been a match made in touchdown heaven. Even though Holliday is just 5-foot-5, he just might be the fastest man in the league -- Champ Bailey has called him “by far the fastest guy I’ve ever played with.’’ Holliday was an eight-time track All American at LSU and he won the NCAA 100-meter title in 2009 besting a field that included current Oakland Raiders wide receiver Jacoby Ford.
Holliday has run an electronically-timed 9.98 seconds in the 100 meters at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The Broncos have lived with the adventure Holliday can be fielding the ball at times -- he’s had plenty of bobbles in his time with the team -- and coach John Fox has often used another player to field punts deep in Broncos territory. But, in the end, they see the effect Holliday has on coverage units. If they can get him some space, his speed is the ultimate closer.
“We know if you give him any sort of crease, he’s gone, that's it, if he gets out front, nobody is catching him,’’ said Broncos defensive tackle Mitch Unrein. “That’s something a lot of teams don’t have.’’