The Denver Broncos have played their way into the 2014 Super Bowl where they will take on the top-rated defense of the Seattle Seahawks. To get to this point, Denver has used the most prolific offensive attack in NFL history led by Peyton Manning who is having the greatest season ever by a quarterback. All the yards and points have been impressive but none of it would have been possible if not for offensive tackle Chris Clark stepping in and saving the season.
When Ryan Clady, arguably the best left tackle in football, went down for the season with a foot injury back in September, there was considerable concern about how Denver would cope. Protecting Manning was the top priority for the offense and they had just lost their most important lineman in the most important spot on the line. But the team turned to Clark, a former undrafted free agent who had not seen significant playing time since 2011 as a jumbo tight end for Tim Tebow, and he stepped up to the plate with no hesitation.
And the results were undeniable. Denver finished the season allowing a league-low 20 sacks in the regular season and just 54 quarterback hits, the third lowest total in the league. Clark came through with flying colors against teams’ top pass rushers, holding up against the likes of Lamarr Houston, Trent Cole, and DeMarcus Ware in his first three weeks on the job. Having him hold strong on Manning’s blind side helped to create clean pockets all season long for the passing game to take off in 2013.
During their playoff run, the Denver line has been ever better than they were in the regular season. They are the only team in the playoffs who have not allowed a sack in the postseason and have allowed just one quarterback hit on Manning. That stellar play has been keyed by Clark stepping in and taking control of the left tackle position, stone-walling pass rushers coming off the edge. He has been the difference in Denver’s run this season, stepping in for one of the best left tackles in all of football and saving the Broncos from falling short of their Super Bowl aspirations.