If rain is supposed be redemptive, a washing clean of sorts, why did the “new and improved” Denver Broncos look exactly like the Broncos of last season? On a night when the clouds were supposed to part and bestow us a new team, water fell from a Mile High soaking fans and their hopes for a better season.
The Broncos fell to the Oakland Raiders 23-20 in Groundhog Day like fashion. Name an area on the field, and problems were prevalent. Converting in the redzone? Bring out kicker Matt Prater. Stopping the run? 190 rushing yards from the silver and black. The Broncos running game? Non-existant with 38 total yards. Protecting the quarterback? Kyle Orton was stuffed better than a Thanksgiving turkey and sacked for a loss five times.
John Fox had his NYFD hat on, but he is still trying to contain the fire that Josh McDaniels started two years ago.
Just because the team came out of the gates slow doesn’t concern Fox too much.
“There’s no consolation for close, but I think we’re still optimistic,” Fox said. “We just happen to be at 0-1 like half the teams in our football league.”
The Broncos had more total yards than the Raiders (310 to 289), but again, there was a lack of balance to the offense. In fact, Fox’s team threw the ball 46 times and only had 13 run plays which is very out of character for the “run-heavy” coach.
“We don’t give up on anything. It just wasn’t fairing very well,” Fox said of the run game.
Knowshon Moreno had 8 carries for 22 yards, well below his preseason average. Willis McGahee would have done more good for the team if he had stayed in the locker room. He averaged 0.8 yards per carry.
“Some of it was they played with five defensive linemen there for a while. Some of it was it’s tough to run on 2nd and 12,” Orton explained.
With the game basically in Orton’s slippery hands, he did his best to convert in the clutch, but the team’s overall performance didn’t help his cause. “Boos” started to drown out the Rocky Mountain Thunder and with two minutes to go, all the Raiders had to do was run out the clock.
Orton ended up finishing the night 24-for-46 passing with 304 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. Brandon Lloyd led the team in receiving with 6 catches for 89 yards.
On the Raiders side of the ball, Jason Campbell went 13-for-22 for 105 yards and 1 TD. The team was without Louis Murphy and Kevin Boss, so that left Darrius Heyward-Bey to lead the team in receiving with 4 catches for 44 yards. The passing game can take a backseat when you have the kind of running game that the Raiders do. Darren McFadden led the team with 22 carries for 150 yards. Michael Bush tacked on another 30 yards on 9 carries.
There’s no doubt that the Raiders played well, but the Broncos weren’t exactly doing things to help there cause.
“We just continued to hurt ourselves with turnovers and penalties, and 2nd and long, and 3rd and long,” Orton said. “It’s tough to establish anything in that situation.”
The Broncos had 10 penalties for 91 yards. They also fumbled the ball twice. All in all, the team should have lost by a couple of touchdowns, but one standout play of the night pumped some adrenaline back into the Broncos veins. Right after halftime, down 16-3, the Broncos forced the Raiders to punt and Eric Decker returned the ball 90 yards for a score.
“We fought back hard, everybody stayed together, and we had a chance there at the end,” Orton said. “It’s one of 16. It was a tough loss for us obviously, but we’ve got 15 more to go, and we still have a bright season ahead of us.”
The Raiders may have infused some silver and black clouds into the the normally blue-skied city, but there’s still a lot of season left.
Just like rainbows express remorse for angry skies, wins apologize hard losses.