To begin the season, Willis McGahee carried this Denver Broncos offense as Peyton Manning and his receivers got used to each other.
Heading into Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots, he was averaging 81.3 yards on the ground per game. He also has 3 rushing touchdowns on the season. He’s a team captain and a guy his teammates look to when they need a pick-me-up both on and off the field. That’s why it’s so hard to see a guy like that struggle the way he did against the Patriots.
McGahee carried the ball 14 times for 51 yards which isn’t a horrible day, but he made two critical errors in the game. First the Broncos had a 4th-an-one at the New England 47-yard line with 10:50 left in the game. McGahee dropped an easy catch and run with the Patriots up by just 10 points. It was a sure-fire first down play that had McGahee turning his head before he caught the ball.
“I just have to be a better pro than what I’ve been doing lately. All I can do is say I’m going to get better.” – via Lindsay Jones (Denver Post)
The next gaff came when the Broncos were surging after recovering a Stevan Ridley fumble. The team moved the ball from their own 32-yard line to New England’s 14-yard line in less than two minutes with 3:42 left on the clock. After six straight passes on that drive, the Broncos handed it off to McGahee who had the ball punched out by Rob Ninkovich and recovered by Jermaine Cunningham.
That was essentially the Broncos last week five gasp. The Patriots more first downs and then let the clock wind down for their third win of the season.
“Any time you turn the ball over, it hurts you,” head coach John Fox said following the loss. “It’s a proven fact, and we were minus two tonight (Manning had the other fumble). You go on the road against a very good football team, in particularly in their offense and their tempo, and their skill set, it makes it tough sledding. The guys hung in there and we fought back, but at the end of the day, it’s still minus two and that usually relates in a point differential.”
It takes a full team to lose, so it take a full team to win too. McGahee has done his part. It’s time for the others to carry him through this rough game.