Well, I don’t think anyone could sum it up better than Broncos safety Duke Ihenacho:
We ain’t even got Champ or Von back yet. That’s scary.
— Duke Ihenacho (@NachoLyfe) September 16, 2013
For the first half of play, the Broncos were actually pretty hard to watch. After the second half against Baltimore where the Broncos scored five touchdowns via the pass, it’s hard to comprehend how they could have zero in a quarter, much less an entire half.
But the Broncos took a 10-9 lead into the half, and came out firing. Peyton Manning hit touchdowns to Wes Welker and Julius Thomas, Knowshon Moreno scored two rushing touchdowns, and Trindon Holliday scored on a punt return as the Broncos had a much more balanced scoring attack, also adding two Matt Prater field goals in a 41-23 rout of the New York Giants…and Peyton’s brother Eli.
It was a mixed bag performance for the Broncos overall, but a win is a win especially when you go into the house of a team like the Giants and absolutely blow them out. Here are some things that stood out to me about this game.
1. The officiating was horrendous
I mean, where to begin. The Broncos were called for an ungodly number of pass interference, defensive holding, or illegal contact penalties. It was simply astounding. Rewarding the Giants for the Broncos’ great coverage. Some of those penalties were certainly warranted, but plays like the one Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC) made against Hakeem Nicks on third down on the Giants’ drive that ended in a Brandon Jacobs TD should have never been called.
The Giants had 28 first downs on the day. Three of those came from rushing (wow) and 15 came from passing. That leaves a whopping 10 first downs that came strictly from penalties. It was one-sided in the penalty department and the league ought to be ashamed.
The Broncos were flagged for 13 penalties compared to the Giants’ four, amassing a whopping (using that word a second time) 132 yards. The Giants were gifted the Jacobs 1-yard TD run, and they were gifted an unnecessary roughness and defensive holding on their other TD drive in the second half.
2. Decker got himself involved
The Broncos force-fed the ball to Eric Decker, and for good reason. Decker needed to get his confidence up after a bad game at home against the Ravens, so leading the team with nine catches for 87 yards. Adam Gase/Peyton Manning were trying to concoct a way for Decker to get on the board in the TD department, and he just missed it. Those will come as the year progresses.
As a whole, I wasn’t overly impressed with the play of the Broncos’ wide receivers, but Decker had a nice game and led the team with 13 targets.
3. Hats off to the Defense
Wow, the defense was on point. They had those bogus penalties called that didn’t end up costing anything but pushing us down in the points allowed category (deceiving stat), but aside from that, they were nearly flawless.
Jack Del Rio devised a gameplan to really limit Hakeem Nicks in the passing game (four catches, 83 yards) and focusing on bottling up the run. The pass rush was seemingly non-existent but the stat line tells a different story.
The Broncos–on the night–had 12 passes defended, seven quarterback hits, seven tackles for loss, four interceptions, a sack, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Compare that to three passes defended, two QB hits, two tackles for loss, and ZERO sacks for the Giants.
The Broncos’ defense was on fire against the Giants, picking off those four passes and flying to the football. They used a bend-don’t-break strategy versus Victor Cruz, and took care of assignments elsewhere. Eli Manning’s only passing touchdown on the day was a garbage TD to running back Da’Rel Scott and really more about the play Scott made than the throw Eli Made.
Like Duke Ihenacho said, this is a team doing this without Champ Bailey and Von Miller to alleged top 10 or “elite” quarterbacks in this league.
4. The Return of Moreno
Knowshon Moreno was a stud against the Giants. He followed up a nine carry, 28-yard performance against the Ravens with a 13 carry, 93 yard and two touchdown performance. He also had three catches on the day, and looked every bit the part of the full-time back the Broncos need in their offense.
Montee Ball was nothing short of horrid, but we’ll give the rookie the benefit of the doubt. Ronnie Hillman wasn’t even out there for but one touch the whole game.
Knowshon is back, people, even though he was never really gone…
5. Orange Julius
Another solid performance for Julius Thomas, AKA Orange Julius, who had six catches for 47 yards and a big touchdown. Julius is huge for the Broncos’ offense because he adds a whole other dimension. With him making plays, you have four legitimate options at all times which makes it so confusing that the Broncos get off to slow starts.
I’m not sure what game plan they are running in the first half, but they should just play as though they are in the “Hurry Hurry” two-minute offense at all times. It’s their most effective method of moving the football, and Julius is a huge part of that.
6. Trindon Holliday
You take the good, you take the bad. Holliday was VERY good against the Giants, including an 81-yard score on a punt return.
STAT of the NIGHT:
The Broncos had 23 first downs, ZERO by way of penalty. The Giants had 10 first downs by penalty.
PLAY of the GAME:
Tony Carter reached in to break up one of 12 passes on the day for the Broncos, and it deflected off his hand, then off his foot, and into the arms of Chris Harris. It was a wild interception, but a huge momentum shifter for the Broncos.
The Broncos play host to the Raiders on Monday Night Football in Denver week three.