The Predominantly Orange crowd erupted on the very first play of the Denver Broncos defensive series as Elvis Dumervil got his first sack of the season, and made it a safety for good measure. Just like that, the Broncos appeared to be on the recovery train from their Monday Night loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
The Houston Texans, however, had other plans. They beat Peyton Manning for just the third time in 19 meetings, as the team put up 31 points by the end of the third quarter. It was too much for the Broncos as they had to settle for field goals up until the fourth quarter.
Just like week two, the Broncos lost by 6 points, but gave themselves a chance to win it at the end.
“We’ve just got to find a way to get off to a better start together as a team, not kind of alternate one side of the ball doing a good job,” Manning said following the loss. “We need to kind of feed off each other. We’ve done it at times, but we need to be able to do it for 60 minutes.”
Manning went 26-for-52 for 323 yards and 2 touchdowns, with his two scores coming on a 38-yard pass to Brandon Stokley and a 6-yard deflected pass that Joel Dreessen went up and got.
Eric Decker led the team in receiving with 7 catches for 123 yards.
“You feel like you have some momentum for the first time, and defense stepped up and we were able to get some things going, but it was too late,” Stokley said.
Manning didn’t have an interception in this one, but he was pressured all day long, especially by J.J. Watt. Watt had 2.5 sacks and hit Manning in the backfield three times to go along with his 4 tackles.
The Broncos defense gave up 436 yards of total offense and saw Matt Schaub throw for 290 yards and 4 touchdowns. Schaub even lost a chuck of his ear in the third quarter on a roughing the passer call, but only missed one play.
Tracy Porter had the big pick-6 against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week one, but there was no chance of that happening on Sunday. He was benched after the Texans got their second score.
Texans’ running back Arian Foster went off on the Broncos with 105 yards on 23 carries.
With the score 31-11 at the end of the third quarter, everyone was hoping for a little Mile High Magic.
As soon as Ben Tate lost a fumble and Justin Bannan recovered the ball, the Broncos were let out of their stable. Two plays later, Manning connected with Stokley for the team’s first touchdown of the day. The Broncos defense then forced the Texans into a quick three-and-out, and Manning executed another touchdown drive in a little over five minutes.
The Broncos once again got the Texans’ offense off the field without a score, but they only gave themselves 20 seconds on the clock. Too little, too late. It’s become the early theme of the Broncos’ season.
“One thing you don’t want to see is guys fold and not finish till the end,” Champ Bailey said. “We had a lot of guys that kept fighting so we just need to find a way not to get ourselves in that hole.”
The Broncos are 1-2 at this point, and have faced three very good teams. Next week, however, the real season starts with division opponent, Oakland. It’s certainly not time to worry.
“Are we a finished product? No,” John Fox said. “We’re three games into a 16 game schedule.”
Better is yet to come.