Thoughts on the amazing win over the Chicago Bears at Mile High Stadium (In no particular order):
- Mile High Magic is back! I thought it had died years ago when the Broncos moved into the new stadium, but it turns out it was just lying dormant. What I saw yesterday was eerily similar to some of the wildest finishes in franchise history. Everyone who watched that Marion Barber fumble in overtime had to be reminded of “The Fumble” game in 1988 when the Broncos won the AFC Championship over the Cleveland Browns on an Earnest Byner fumble. The atmosphere and electricity flowing through the stadium literally jumped off the TV. I believe that there is no place in the league with a better atmosphere during games like that than Mile High Stadium, and that game was one you had to see to truly believe. When Denver failed to recover the onside kick after they scored to pull within 10-7, I let doubt enter my mind for a few moments. I should have known better. I was lamenting the fact the streak might be over just as Barber ran out of bounds while trying to kill the clock which gave the Broncos new life. I quickly snapped out of it and immediately realized that they were in fact going to win the game. I didn’t even need to watch the final drive or the 59-yard game tying field goal by Matt Prater. I knew his kick was going to be perfect before they even lined up. There is just no other way it could happen for this Denver Broncos team. That belief — the knowing that they are going to win — is exactly what Mile High Magic is all about. It’s infectious, and every fan and player on the field knows what is going to happen. This team has awakened the tradition and the spirit of the franchise, and I believe that their improbable run is just getting started.
- Once again, the Denver defense put forth an incredible effort. They held the Bears to only 12 first downs, 245 total yards, and a 2 for 15 rate on 3rd down attempts. D.J. Williams (2), Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil all registered sacks, and Williams led the team with 9 tackles and 4 tackles for loss. Wesley Woodyard made the play of the game defensively when he stripped Marion Barber in overtime and gave the ball back to a red-hot Tim Tebow. I love to see guys like Williams and Woodyard step up to dominate a game like that. If they can complement the consistent stars like Miller, Dumervil, and Champ Bailey, the sky is the limit for this group.
- So let me get this straight. Prater misses a 28-yard field goal due to a freakish block by Julius Peppers, but he absolutely drills a 59-yarder and a 51-yarder in crunch time? Sometimes football defies explanation. I give a ton of credit to Prater on those pressure packed game winning kicks. He always seems to be better from long distance anyways, but those kicks were on the money. They also both would have been good from about 65 or 70 yards. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about that 28-yarder a little bit more. I know there has to be equal blame on the offensive line for the block, but Prater has to sky rocket that thing when he is so close. That play was simply disastrous. Had Denver gotten those 3 points early the second half would have looked entirely different. For the second week in a row the Broncos left points on the field and it almost cost them in the end.
- Obviously the leadership of a veteran like Brian Dawkins is important to this team, and I thought it was very evident after he left the game with an injury. The defense still played well without him, but it seemed like they immediately started to bend more with him on the sideline. It was reported he suffered a neck injury, but as I’m writing this I haven’t heard anything concerning the severity and/or whether or not he will miss any time. With a big matchup against the Patriots looming, here is hoping he can get back on the field.
- CATCH THE BALL! I imagine every one of you screamed that at your TV at some point during the game just like I did. I am not quite sure what is going on with this group of receivers. Guys like Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas have made big plays for this team during the winning streak, but their untimely drops have been killing the offense. Even Eddie Royal, who didn’t play against the Bears, has dropped quite a few balls this season. Someone has to be able to step up and make a big catch when the offense gets bogged down and needs a kick start. If Thomas would have caught that sure fire touchdown in the 2nd half it would have been a completely different game. Add in the short field goal they missed in the first half and Denver should have been the team that was up 10-0 late in the contest. They should have cruised to the victory. Instead, they insist on making it hard on themselves. These mistakes have to stop, period. If the Broncos hope to beat teams like the Patriots or Steelers late in the year they have to make big plays early to match their clutch finishes.
- I thought Tim Tebow played great and is obviously improving as a passer. He finished 21-40 with 236 yards passing and a touchdown. There was at least 4 drops, so if he gets those catches he would have finished with more than 300 yards and at least another touchdown. People are going to keep criticizing him, that is just the way it is, but I believe Tebow will be the quarterback in Denver for a very long time.
- Denver has done a great job of limiting turnovers and capitalizing on mistakes made by the other team during their run of success. Yesterday however, the Broncos failed to win the turnover battle which makes it even more impressive that they were able to win the game. Tebow threw an uncharacteristic interception and the defense continued their knack of not forcing a large number of turnovers. Obviously they got the huge one in overtime which swung the tide, but they have to increase the number of turnovers down the stretch. Chris Harris dropped what might have been a pick six yesterday, and despite the fact that the defense is racking up some impressive sack numbers, they need to swat that ball out of the quarterback’s hands a little more.
- Due to this amazing victory over the Bears, It looks like the Broncos can win the AFC West as long as they beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the regular season finale. However, with that being said, it isn’t over until it’s over and I won’t mind one bit if the Broncos keep winning and lock up the division earlier than that.
- I am actually happy to see Denver go back to the underdog status with the Patriots coming to town next week. Being the favorite is nerve wracking and I like when the media doesn’t believe the Broncos have a shot. Clearly the Denver defense is going to have to play well and slow down Tom Brady in order to have a chance, but I think the offense is going to have a much easier time moving the ball against a soft New England defense. Tebow has already proven that he can keep up if the game turns into a shootout like it did against Minnesota, so I fully expect this one to be another close game where Denver can make a run at it towards the end. Broncos Country can also make a huge difference by whipping Mile High Stadium into a frenzy and maximizing the home field advantage. I think the Broncos will go out there next Sunday and shock the world.
- For the 6th time in a row: Enjoy this one Broncos fans!
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Topics: Afc Championship, Afc West, Brian Dawkins, Caleb Hanie, Champ Bailey, Cleveland Browns, D.j. Williams, Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos, Earnest Byner, Eddie Royal, Elvis Dumervil, Eric Decker, Julius Peppers, Kansas City Chiefs, Marion Barber, Mile High Magic, Tim Tebow, Von Miller, Wesley Woodyard