There’s no cat to let out of the bag here. As we expected, the Jacksonville Jaguars looked like kittens in their 35-19 loss to the mighty Denver Broncos. And that’s with the Broncos not looking so mighty.
If you’re playing pro football anywhere in the state of Florida, it better be in Miami. With MRSA cases in Tampa Bay, and Jacksonville losing by 16, the state may want to ship those two clubs to Cuba on the fastest boat available.
Ugly Broncos win? How many other teams won by 16 on Sunday?
“I’m just pleased that we’re sitting here 6-0 and getting two games away from the bye week,” John Fox said.
The Broncos got things going right away after denying a fake punt by the Jaguars. Giving Peyton Manning a short field (27 yards) is like bringing a meal-skipping 350-pound offensive lineman to a buffet. He’s going to eat it up with reckless abandon. The Broncos’ first score was set up by a 28-yard catch and run by Knowshon Moreno and capped off by a 3-yard touchdown pass to Julius Thomas. The Broncos have now scored on their opening drive in the last three of four games.
Just a few minutes later, Wes Welker had a 20-yard touchdown reception, which made him just the second undrafted player to record 800-career receptions.
In just one short quarter, we clearly saw why Manning running the no huddle is like watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel. In the first quarter, he painted his way to 88 yards on 8-for-11 passing a two touchdowns. It was a classical “classy” Manning quarter.
Then things turned a bit ugly. Manning botched a snap and threw a pick-6. By the time halftime rolled around, the Broncos had just a 14-12 lead, making heads in Las Vegas spin.
The corrals opened a bit in the second half and the Broncos threw up 21 points, which included two more Moreno touchdown runs, the series of a lifetime for Malik Jackson (a sack, a run stuff, and a sack), and a fake punt, which David Bruton took 35 yards to set up a Moreno score.
Speaking of Moreno, his three touchdowns on Sunday make him the league leader in rushing touchdowns. He finished the day with 42 yards on 15 carries, and 7 catches for 62 receiving yards.
The offensive line didn’t falter when right tackle Orlando Franklin left in the third quarter with a knee injury (He was seen on crutches after the game). From then on, Chris Clark and Louis Vasquez lined up at left and right tackle, respectively. Manny Ramirez stayed in the middle, and Zane Beadles and Chris Kuper manned the left and right guard positions.
Denver’s defense was highlighted by the return of Champ Bailey and a couple of interceptions to close the deal. Bailey drew a tough match having to cover Justin Blackmon. Blackmon finished with 14 catches for 190 yards while Bailey had 6 tackles and 4 passes defensed.
As a whole, the secondary missed tackles and blew assignments, but like last week, when push came to shove, the team made plays down the stretch. Kayvon Webster and Danny Trevathan came up with picks on Chad Henne in the second half.
The team’s run defense continues to dominate as they held the Jaguars to 71 yards on the ground, with Maurice Jones-Drew averaging less than four yards per carry and putting up one touchdown.
Manning was rather onery in his press conference. He ended the day going 28-for-42 for 295 yards, two touchdowns, a pick-6, and two fumbles. Even the great one on a bad day is better than at least half the quarterbacks in this league.
Next week, the Broncos will welcome Von Miller back while the city of Indianapolis will welcome Manning back. The return of both will be big. You can bet on that, 26.5-point spread or not.