Week Sixteen -- San Francisco 49'ers @ Denver Broncos
Location: Invesco Field @ Mile High, Denver, CO
Kick-off time: 4:15 pm EST
Win and their in. It's that simple for the Broncos. Win today and they'll most likely head to New England next weekend in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs as the #5 Seed. Everything is set up for Denver, but the Niners and Frank Gore will try to send the Broncos home.
SBNATION CROSS BLOG -- NINERS NATION
MY PREDICTION -- BRONCOS 38 - 49'ers 9
GAME DAY NOTES:
*--Jay Cutler became the 1st rookie quarterback to throw multiple TD passes in their 1st 4 starts last week against Cincinnati.
*--A win would give the Broncos at least 10 wins for the 4th straight season, the best streak since the 1984-1987 seasons.
*--Denver is 6-4 all-time against the 49'ers in the regular season, including 3-1 at home.
*--Tatum Bell needs 23 yards to become Denver's 17-indivisual 1000 yard rusher under Mike Shanahan, and the 6th different runner to do it(1995-Pres.)
*--Denver comes into Week 17 as the NFL's least penalized team(59-429 yds) and is on pace to break team records in both penalties(63) and penalized yards(458)
*--Last Regular Season Meeting -- 24-14, 9/15/02 -- WIN
Official Gameday Press Release
LB Keith Burns
KR Brian Clark
RB Damien Nash
RB Cedric Cobbs
OL Chris Kuper
TE Chad Mustard
DL Kenny Peterson
DL Antwon Burton
Early Game Thoughts --
*--Just watched Vince Young ramble 30+ yards for a TD to bring the Titans to within 3 against the Patriots. The more I watch VY, the more impressed I am. His passing stats are nothing to write home about, but dude is just a winner, plain and simple.
*--Damn, do I hate the Cowboys. I'd like nothing more than for them to take an L to the Lions today. Classic!
*--Hate to be a Bengals fan. They are going to waking up in a cold sweat this off-season remembering that missed extra-point.
*--Jets take down Oakland 23-3 to punch their ticket...Raise your hand if you saw that coming...
*--Chiefs/Jags is getting closer, now 35-30. Remember, a Chiefs loss and we are in regardless of our game....
*--Larry Johnson just broke the NFL-Record for attempts. 411, congrats to LJ. Enjoy your career ending in a couple more seasons with that kind of abuse...
*--Tempors flaring in KC, with the Chiefs running the clock out...
*--New England looking to end the Titan's chances, scoring late to take a 10-point lead 33-23
*--Chiefs beat the Jags, forcing Broncos into a must win
*--Steelers end the Bengals season. Another disappointing year for Cincinnati
*--Detroit beats Dallas....Beautiful
FIRST QUARTER --
*--Time to get it on. If the Broncos can handle their business they'll head to to the Playoffs. Morgan to receive, but the kick goes out of the end-zone for a touchback.
*--And just like that Cutler gets the bacll to Scheffler for 28 yards. Scheffler has been re-born with Cutler at QB.
*--Another quick-strike to Smith. It is so nice to have the pass attack back in our arsenal
*--A promising drive comes up short, and the Broncos will be forced to punt. It is pretty obvious that Mike Bell is going to have to work on his pass-catching out of the backfield this off-season
*--Sweet save by Paymah and the defense will have the Niner's pinned right off the bat.
*--Three gives to Gore nets 5 yards and a punt for the Niners. Broncos should have nice field position
*--Niner's adjust early, blitzing on back to back plays and getting pressure on Cutler
*--Another punt, Ernster needs to keep field position, but this time no great play, and just like that the Niners will get to flip position
*--Darrent Williams gives up a 1st down, playing way to soft. Where is Dominique Foxworth?!?
*--Broncos bringing pressure, blitzing Lynch, enabling a loss on the end-around
*--Speaking of D-Fox, nice play keeping Eric Johnson from getting the 1st down
*--Niner's try to fake the punt, and it blows up in their face! Broncos will have great field position
*--Scheffler gets lit up, and the Niners get tagged with a 15 yarder. Broncos all the way to the 25
*--Another penalty coming, and the Niners are playing with the rough-shod style of a team that has nothing to play for
*--Bell runs to the cusp of the goal-line, looking for the early lead
*--Better button up the chin-strap, fellas, there is some hittin going on today
*--Cutler fumbles a snap, 4th time in his 5 starts
*--Broncos try to run again and nothing doing. maybe the Broncos forgot that the Niner's have on of the worst pass defense in football. They get 3, however, and take the lead. BRONCOS 3 - 0
*--Special teams lapse, and the Niners have nice field position to start their third possession
*--Gore gets 5, leading to a 3rd down and the ned of the quarter
*--END OF THE FIRST QUARTER -- BRONCOS 3 - NINERS 0
SECOND QUARTER --
*--Defense does another good job forcing the punt
*--Sweet return for D-Will getting the offense out of the shadow of their end-zone
*--Cutler gets crushed again, and the Broncos' offesive line is having a horrible day. A penalty gives the Broncos a first down, but if the Broncos want to have Cutler in the playoffs they had better start protecting #6.
*--Just as I say that Plummer trots onto the field
*--Jay definitely got his bell rung, getting slammed hard to the turf. For some reason I don;t worry about Plummer. He sees like the type of quarterback that could come in and play well as a backup
*--Not much a quarterback has to do when you can hand it to Mike Bell and have him run for 50 yards. First and Goal at the three
*--Plummer sacked back at the 5. Is anyone blocking on the O-Line?
*--Niners force the Broncos into another 3rd down, and another missed opportunity.
*--A QB sneak leads to another field goal attempt. Broncos are leaving points on the field and that usually comes back to haunt. BRONCOS 6 - 0
*--Another bad coverage job allows the Niners to start out near the 40 again...
*--Lost in the missed opportunities of the offense is the solid play of the defense so far
*--Chukwurah with the sack, forcing the Niners to punt. So far only 1 first down allowed by the Broncos defense
*--A penalty in the return pushed the Broncos back inside the 20, and Plummer readies to come back out. Looks like Cutler's day might be done.
*--We had to know at some time Jake Plummer would be needed to come through for this team
*--They show a shot of Jay Cutler, wrapped up in his cold weather gear. They say he is "probable to return", but I like to tell women I look like Brad Pitt. Our hopes rest with Jake Plummer
*--Exactly what we didn't need, a Jake Plummer interception, run back into Bronco territory. My stomach is un-easy to say the least
*--Defense may have to win this one for us, Broncos fans!
*--Defense comes up big again, sacking Smith and the Niners will punt again
*--Tatum Bell has eclipsed the 1000 yard mark, the 4th different guy in the last four years for teh Broncos. *--Broncos offense has reverted back to it's ultra-conservative approach with Plummer back in the game
*--Broncos run on 3rd and 11 forcing a punt. I forgot how bad this offense was with Plummer at the helm
*--Another 3rd down for San Francisco will come after a Niner timeout
*--Broncos get burned by the screen pass, and 26 yards later the Niners are in scoring position
*--Tipped pass picked by Champ Bailey, who returns it to the house for the TOUCHDOWN!!!
*--Bailey's 10th interception and a huge play for the Broncos defense. 66 Yards on the return in what could be the play of the game for Denver! BRONCOS 13 - 0
*--If there was any doubt about who the Defensive Player of the Year is, forget about it. 10 Interceptions, 11 overall take-aways...
*--Another big play for Gore takes the Niners to the Bronco 40, and the 1st half to the 2 minute warning
*--TWO-MINUTE WARNING -- BRONCOS 13 - FORTY-NINERS 0
*--The Niners offense looking to get some points back before the half and have moved the ball all the way to the 30.
*--D-Will nearly get a pick, but makes a nice play saving a TD
*--Third and one becomes third and 6 after a penalty. Big play for the broncos defense
*--Nice tackle by D-Will, bringing up a 4th and 3. The Forty-Niners will go for it
*--The defense does a good job in coverage, but Alex Smith is able to scramble and pick up the first down
*--Another first down run for Gore, and the Niners call timeout with 19 seconds to go, the ball sitting at the 13 yard line
*--The Broncos get to Smith, who fumbled the ball, and a huge mistake by Kenard Lang, who tried to scoop it up instead of falling on it. The ball goes out of bounds, and the Niners retain possession.
*--Joe Nedney kicks a 46 yard field goal and the Niners are on the board.
HALFTIME -- BRONCOS 13 - NINERS 3
THIRD QUARTER --
*--A shot of Jay Cutler with his helmet on and warming up is a welcome site to this Bronco's fan anyways
*--A Vernon Davis injury leads to a timeout. Is it me or has Al Wilson not played at all today?
*--Niner's really holding the ball now, in the midst of a 6 minute drive
*--Another third and short, and for the fourth time they convert, this time for a Touchdown. Just like that the Niners are right back in the game. BRONCOS 13 - FORTY-NINERS 10
*--After dominating the game early the defense has been victomized by two scoring drives back to back. The offense, regardless of who is at quarterback, needs to hold the ball, milk some clock, and score some points
*--Another shot of Culter with his helmet on, and out he comes to a big ovation from the crowd
*--Cutler's second play is a long pass, underthrown to Javon Walker leading up to a third and 7. The last thing we need is a three and out...
*--Broncos get the first down, but a holding penalty brings it back....
*--Now a 3rd and 17, and the interception is brought back for a Touchdown. The wheels are starting to come off, and the playoffs are in serious doubt...FORTY-NINERS 17 - BRONCOS 13
*--The question has to be, is Jay Cutler healthy?
*--A huge return for Quincy Morgan gets the ball to midfield. Great field position might be just what the doctor ordered for the Broncos
*--A quick pass to Rod Smith moves the Broncos inside the 40. All those field-goals earlier are haunting the Broncos
*--Another completion, this time to Scheffler, and Cutler has the Broncos right back into field goal range
*--We've seen the quarterback called for a flase start, and this time Tatum Bell
*--Denver usues it's first time-out. A huge 2nd down coming up. Need the TD, ust tog et the lead back before our defense takes the field
*--Brocnos get 10 yards on 2nd and 15, bringing up a huge 2rd and 5
*--What a throw by Cutler to Rod Smith to the 5 and a big Broncos First Down. Nice to see ROd Smith back in the flow
*--The Broncos, knowing the importance of this drive and getting 7, call their second time-out
*--First and goal is stuffed by the Niners, 2nd and goal. 5 runs inside the 5 today have netted absolutely nothing...
*--Cutler gets crushed again, and the Brocnos have had no answer for the blitz today
*--WHo needs those pesky timeouts?? The Broncos must not as they use their third and final timeout before a third and goal from teh 17. The most important thing now is points...
*--WR screen gets the Broncos back to the 5, but they'll have to settle for another field goal. If they lose this game, that's why
*--The field goal is good...FORTY-NINERS 17 - BRONCOS 16
*--Time for the defense to get the Niners back off the field.
*--Three first and goal situations inside the 5, three field goals. UGLY!
*--The third quarter ends with the Niners picking up another third down. The achilles heel of the defense today, no doubt...
*--END OF THE THIRD QUARTER -- FORTY-NINERS 17 - BRONCOS 16
FOURTH QUARTER --
*--The quarter starts with Frank Gore run, 7 yards, and the Broncos defense is starting to wear down against the physical Gore
*--Give the Niners credit, they aren't going into a shell, with Smith drilling a pass to the 16
*--Third and 5 for the Niners at the Broncos 11. Defense needs to hold the Niners to a field goal here...
*--And they do. Nedney kicks it through and gives the Niners a four point game again. NINERS 20 - BRONCOS 16
*--Another kick-return for Morgan would be huge right now....
*--Not bad, from 4 yards deep, to the 28 yard-line, and the Broncos take over with their season on the line. A lot to ask of a rookie quarterback
*--No need to forget the run game, though it appears the Broncos have
*--Screen pass nets 16 yards and a Bronco first down
*--Tatum Bell definitely fumbled the ball, but appeared to recover, or at least fall on the ball, because no one seemed to recover
*--This is going to be an interesting call. The Forty Niners will get the ball after another key Tatum Bell fumble. A iffy call, but Tatum Bell cannot fumble in that situation...
*--Time for the defense to take some chances...
*--Broncos need all the help they can get, and a holding penalty gives them a 10-yard gift
*--Huge third down and seven. Broncos defense needs to get off the field
*--Another strange play. It's called a fumble, but will be overturned. A huge first down for the Niners
*--This game has been a microcosm of the Broncos' season. Costly turnovers. Missed opportunities on offense. Tatum Bell has punched his ticket out of town with 3 December fumbles. All costly.
*--The play is overturned, but called incomplete instead. The Niner's will have to punt.
*--Cutler still looks like he's a step behind, a side-affect of that bell-ringing from the 1st half
*--A big third and long, but from deep in our own territory
*--A quick three and out, and the Broncos will have to punt
*--Another missed opportunity after the fumbled punt. Another bad punt by Enrster...
*--Broncos can't stop Frank Gore
*--Another big 3rd and long upcoming for the defense
*--San Francisco uses their second timeout
*--Good coverage by Paymah on 3rd and long and the Niner's will try a long field goal -- which will be 5 yards closeer thanks to a penalty. 46 yards, and he drills it. A TD just to tie for the Broncos now. FORTY-NINERS 23 - BRONCOS 16
*--And the drive will start from the 20 after a touch-back
*--A run, and a drop by Walker leads to a third down and 7
*--What an ugly way to end a season. Sloppy all the way around
*--Screen play, this time to Mike Bell, and no fumble. A huge first down out to the 40
*--Another first down and the Broncos are across mid-field
*--A pass to Kircus, followed by a run bring up a 2nd and long at the 35
*--Huge catch by Marshall, and the Broncos are down to the 15, with a first down!!
*--TWO MINUTE WARNING -- FORTY-NINERS 23 - BRONCOS 16
*--Another great run by Mike Bell, who is proving to be the best back on the team puts the Broncos at the 9!
*--And the drive is complete with a pass to Tony Scheffler for teh touchdown!!! Elam adds the extra-point and the game is tied
*--BRONCOS 23 - FORTY-NINERS 23
*--A lot of time left, but the Niners only have one timeout remaining
*--Niners start from thier own 34, looking for the winning score. A turnover would be great now!
*--Third down after an incompletion on the screen.
*--A run won't get a first down and that should take us to OT
*--Or, one second to go, but a kneel down will end regulation
*--END OF FOURTH QUARTER - BRONCOS 23 - FORTY-NINERS 23
*--The coin toos -- Heads is called, and it's tails, the Broncos will receive!
*--Morgan has done a nice job today, and returns this one out past the 27. Legends are made in games like this!
*--WR screen nets nothing on first down
*--A completion to Rod Smith has the Broncos close to a first down, with the help of a friendly spot
*--Mike Bell runs the ball out to the 45, and at least we have some field position
*--A game like this is starting to take it's toll, with players from each side having trouble getting on their feet after every play
*--Three runs in a row and the Broncos will have to punt
*--Brandon Marshall misses a key block. Nice punt by Enrster pushes the Niners back to their own 12
*--Gotta stop Gore here...Defense needs to be big!
*--Broncos have missed Al Wilson in the run game today...
*--Gore give the Niners their initial first down of the OT
*--A tie gets the Broncos into the playoffs, something to keep in mind with less than 10 minutes to go.
*--The Niners get another first down, with no pressure getting to Alex Smith
*--To mid-field. The Niners stopped the Broncos running game, the Broncos cannot
*--Nothing this time brings up a 3rd and 4
*--And Smith throws an incompletion. Time to punt. The Broncos need to take some time off the clock
*--Broncos start from their own 10 yardline, looking to drive for the win
*--Cutler's first pass is tipped, incomplete.
*--A nice catch by Walker will get a first down. Down inside 6 minutes...
*--A Tatum Bell sighting nets 4 yards on a screen
*--So much for the Broncos breaking a record for least amount of penalties...
*--Almost a great catch by Marshall, but not to be, and it brings up a third and long
*--Cutler thorws it into the dirt and the Broncos will have to punt
*--Nice punt for Ernster, but a nice return and the Niners have teh ball at their own 39. Defense needs a 3 and out
*--Reverse gets the ball inside Bronco's territory. Credit to the Niners, they are going for the win.
*--58 yards from where they are now...
*--No doubt the Niners will try a field goal on 4th down, but they get a first, and the Broncos season might be coming to an end
*--Not enough defense when they needed it
*--TWO MINUTE WARNING -- BRONCOS 23 - NINERS 23
*--Nedney will come out to try and win it. 36 yards for the win
*--And it's good, and the Broncos' season comes to an end. FORTY NINERS 26 - BRONCOS 23