This article is sent with all the love and God’s blessings to the victims of yesterday’s tornados.
So earlier this year my wife and I rescued a puppy from a shelter. Teddy is a mutt for sure but was listed as a Boston Terrier mix. Well the DNA testing just came back and the most prevalent breed in his makeup, you guessed it…Boston Terrier. To make a short lead-in long, I just hope that this news is not an omen. But we’ll talk Pats a little later.
This Sunday night’s most recent “Game of the Year” pitting our Denver Broncos against division rival Kansas City Chiefs was expected to be the irresistible force of the Broncos offense versus the immovable object of the Chiefs defense. Both of which were ranked first in the NFL respectively. For the most part, the game played out as expected. Well, that is except for the forgotten unit, the Denver defense. That said, let’s get started…
The Good: The offensive line! This has been a beleaguered unit all year with the absence of left tackle, Ryan Clady, center, J.D. Walton, and other various injuries along the offensive front. Last week was probably their worst game of the year; especially in light of the collective gasp let out by Broncos Nation when quarterback Peyton Manning was hit low on the last drive of the game, re-aggrivating an already ailing ankle. On Sunday night though, Manning was kept upright all game long. In fact, he was only touched twice all game and in both cases it was after the ball was thrown. It was actually the perfect synergy between PFM and shorter, two-step drops and quick releases, receivers getting open quickly, and the the line putting up a brick wall against the perceived best pass rush in the NFL. That said, the line was great. A special mention goes to Clady’s replacement at left tackle, Chris Clark who has had his struggles at times this season. He pretty much dominated Chiefs defensive end, Tamba Hali. Hali not only got nowhere near Peyton, I think Clark kept him parked in LoDo while the game proceeded at (Sports Authority Field at) Mile High Stadium. I appreciated Clark’s post game interview.
Of course Peyton Manning gets recognized in this category. It has become a time-honored tradition. Manning was 24 for 40, 323 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions…yadda yadda yadda!!!
The ball had not been spread out as evenly all year like it was on Sunday. Demaryius Thomas caught five passes for 121 yards, Wes Welker 8 for 72, Eric Decker 5 for 71, and Julius Thomas 3 for 43. Heck, even Montee Ball got into the act with 3 catches for 16 yards.
Speaking of Ball, I was prepared to rail against him for a fumble with about six minutes left in the first quarter, deep in their own territory. However, I called up to the booth and asked for them to take a second look at it. After further review, my decision to rail was reversed as it was clearly just a cross-up between he and PFM. Instead I am going to tell you that we can see why he was a second round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. While Knowshon Moreno was given the rock between the 20′s, Montee was the primary option in the red zone. He powered his way in from the one yard line at the 9:07 mark of the second quarter. He would follow that up with an eight yard yard run at the 2:23 mark of the third quarter to, along with the extra point, give the Broncos a 24-10 lead; one which would never seriously be challenged.
I could go on and on about the offense, but the forgotten unit I wrote of earlier is the Broncos defense. I really don’t mean to qualify this segment in any way but we have to keep things in perspective. The Chiefs offense is not exactly akin to facing the New Orleans Saints offense. All of that aside, the defense shifted into total beast mode on Sunday night. There was an expectation heading into the game that there was going to be some big boy hitting but mostly by KC. I got the sense that the modern day Orange Crush defense felt a bit slighted during the week leading up to kickoff and were out to prove that they are a defense to be taken seriously. The first shot fired across the bow was provided by Danny Trevathan. On the first play, immediately following the miscommunication fumble between Manning and Ball, Trevathan stuck Chiefs fullback, Anthony Sherman after a catch in the flat. In doing so, he put his hat right on the ball and forced a fumble which was recovered by cornerback, Quentin Jammer. Travathan also had six solo tackles and 4 assists to go along with the forced fumble.
Speaking of Jammer, he had a few big hits and defensed passes in addition to the fumble recovery. This was probably his best game as a member of the Broncos. Shaun Phillips continues to make us all forget about Elvis Dumervil and his faulty fax machine. Phillips had 7 solo tackles, 3 assists, and 1.5 sacks. Derek Wolfe also sacked Chiefs quarterback, Alex Smith once and Malik Jackson shared the other half of the Phillips half of a sack.
The Broncos’ whole secondary had a very good game. They held Smith to under 50% completion rating, defended a lot of passes, and really laid the wood to the Chiefs. Without question, this was the hardest hitting game for the Broncos defense, especially the secondary, all season.
Special teams were also good. Punt coverage held one of the best return men in the league, Dexter McCluster to six yards on five returns. Matt Prater nailed a 53 yard field goal and put 5 of 6 kickoffs out of the back of the end zone.
Lastly, the Broncos were very good at protecting the ball. Aside from that one fumble, which was a Broncos mistake, they were able to protect the ball against the leagues top defense.
The Bad: There really wasn’t a whole lot which I can point to in this game as being bad. I think this is the most complete game Denver played all year. The offense was good despite being held to 14 points below the season average. The defense played one of its best games of the year…if not its best. Special teams were good. If I have to point to one bad aspect of the game (and lets face it, no team is perfect and there is always something to improve upon) it would be the 13 penalties for 82 yards. That is far too many penalties. Denver must tighten that up. Holding penalties to keep the defense off of PFM are completely understandable. The infractions that are most frustrating are the false starts and offsides. At this point in the season, these kinds of mistakes should just not be happening.
The Ugly: In a word, injuries. Wes Welker came out of the game early in the fourth quarter with concussion-like symptoms. The Broncos have and continue to follow league protocol related to concussions. Welker was cleared to return last night but symptoms flared up and he was promptly removed from the game. There is no timetable for his return. Rahim Moore left the game in the second quarter with a lower leg injury. It turns out that he had to have surgery today to resolve an issue with bleeding in the left calf muscle area. He will be out indefinitely. Julius Thomas suffered a sprained knee, but did return to the game. He is listed as day-to-day. Clearly, Denver’s defense was not the only unit laying the wood last night.Up Next: It’s back to prime time television next Sunday night as the Broncos travel to Foxboro, MA to knock heads with the New England Patriots. This will be the 14th installment of the Peyton Manning v Tom Brady rivalry. As usual, Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth will have the call. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 Elway Standart Time. We’re still awaiting word as to whether or not the league will allow Brady to wear his Uggs on the field during the game. Either way, Giselle is standing by for post-game analysis. Remember, her hubby cannot throw the ball and catch the ball.