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'Kicking and screaming' checked off Broncos' to-do list

DENVER -- Just four games into whatever becomes of this NFL season, the Denver Broncos' already-done checklist is an impressive one.

It's the kind of list the team's executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway wanted to see when he said the team simply didn't go out "kicking and screaming" enough in the past two postseason exits in particular. A list that has already shown this version of the Broncos' kickin', screamin', turnover-creatin' side.

There was the 17-play, field-goal drive that took over 10 minutes to close out the season-opening win over Baltimore. There was the two-minute drive to tie the score in the final minutes in Kansas City with cornerback Bradley Roby returning Jamaal Charles' fumble for the win seconds later.

There was safety David Bruton Jr.'s interception to seal the deal in a win in Detroit. Then there was Sunday, when the Broncos put together a nine-play drive for what turned out to be the winning field goal over the Minnesota Vikings. The defense followed that by sacking Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for the seventh time in the game -- the second of the game by safety T.J. Ward -- and knocked the ball free to put the exclamation point on things.

"The thing I love about the football team is it has a belief that it's going to find a way, that it's going to find a way to make a play or win the football game," Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. " ... I think we're responding in the right situations.

Added Ward: "We were just talking about how we find a way to win. Well, we're not really finding ways to win; we're making ways to win, we're making plays to win games and that's what you've got to do. We talked as a defense on the sideline, DeMarcus [Ware] brought us all up and said, 'We have to make a play, we have to win this game, and if that ball gets on the ground again we have to recover it this time,' and that's what happened."

It means the Broncos have been able to move past hurtful turnovers, ill-timed penalties, a sometimes-balky offense and even an injury or two along the way. Sunday, quarterback Peyton Manning threw two interceptions, and the Vikings followed with a touchdown drive following the second-quarter interception to go with a field-goal drive after the fourth-quarter pick.

But the Broncos also responded with a touchdown drive to go with their own field-goal drive following the two Vikings' scoring drives after the turnovers.

"The football team, to me, I like the way it's hard on each other, I like the way it responds in tough situations," Kubiak said.

Said Manning: "On both occasions, we responded the next series with scoring drives. One was a touchdown drive to start the second half. At the end of the game, we got a field goal for the lead and ran off enough clock to put Minnesota in a hurry-up tempo in their last drive, and our defense was able to stop them."

It doesn't mean the Broncos won't try to fix what happened when Vikings running back Adrian Peterson creased the hard-charging Broncos' defense for a 48-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-inches play early in the fourth quarter. It doesn't mean they enjoy pushing themselves into tough spots just to see if they can get out.

And it doesn't mean they're hot and bothered about being one of the remaining undefeated teams in the league. But it does mean they're tough to play, tough to beat, and that's worth something as they try to figure out the rest.

"You're going to play in a lot of close football games and you better know how to win those," Kubiak said. "I think right now, we feel like we can win all kind of ways. We're also very humble. Our locker room is very humble in understanding that we have a long way to go and a lot to improve upon."