The Chattanooga Choo Choo continues on. The Tennessee Titans’ train that was riding high after a win against Baltimore last week, was able to squeak out another win at home, this time against the Denver Broncos.
In the Broncos’ 17-14 loss, the defense played an outstanding game. They held the Titans to just 38 yards on the ground. Chris Johnson averaged just 1.6 yards per carry and it was old Broncos punter Brett Kern that led the team in rushing. After a bad long snap, Kern was forced to run and managed to get the first down on a 21-yard gain. The Titans were able to squeeze a field goal out of the miscue which turned out to be extremely important in the outcome of the game.
Another former Bronco also made a huge impact on the scoreboard. One-time fan favorite Daniel Graham capped off a 95-yard drive with a 4-yard reception to give the Titans the lead with 4:24 left in the game.
Looking to tie or win the game, the Broncos were moving the ball down the field very well in the two-minute offense, and were within long field goal range for Matt Prater. However, Kyle Orton had a pass intended for a wide-open Eric Decker tipped and intercepted. At that point, all the Titan’s had to do was run the clock out.
Just like that the Broncos went from an enthusiastic 1-1 to a disappointed 1-2. The Broncos have to leave Tennessee with a certain amount of confidence, however, particularly in their run defense.
If it wasn’t for Matt Hasselbeck, the Titans would have had zero offense. Hasselbeck has brought Sexy Back to the Titans passing game. He went 27-for-36 for 311 yards and 2 touchdowns. Even with Kenny Britt going down in the first half with a leg injury and not returning to the game, the Titans still got it done in the air.
Orton had a rough day in the pocket. He normally looks very calm, but Tennessee brought a heavy pass-rush and they rotated eight very good defensive linemen which kept them fresh. Orton finished the day going 24-for-39 for 173 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs.
The Broncos stuck to their short game throughout to move the chains. Their longest play from the line was a 32-yard reception by Daniel Fells, but other than that they ran the ball and ran short slant routes a lot. John Fox declared Knowshon Moreno an emergency back, so it was Willis McGahee who got the bulk of the carries. He had 52 yards on 22 carries. Eric Decker led the team in receiving again with 7 catches for 48 yards.
Perhaps the most influential play of the game came when John Fox decided to go for it on 4th and goal from the 1-yard line. The Broncos were up 14-10 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and Fox wanted to make it an 11-point game rather than kick the field goal. It was a game-changing decision because the Broncos failed and the Titans took it 95 yards down the field for the score. That Titans’ drive was highlighted by a 58-yard reception by Craig Stevens who made his only reception of the game at the best possible time.
Being away from home, the Broncos wanted to secure a large lead and take the crowd out of it. You can’t blame the normally conservative coach for wanting to swing hard for the homerun or strike out trying.
The Broncos 3-point loss against the Titans shows that the team is making progress. Helmets were flying off left and right because of the intensity and energy that the Broncos were playing with.
The record books will show a loss and tomorrow players will be feeling the kind of pain that only a smooth Tennessee whiskey can numb, but they can rest assured that progress in being made.