We've talked a lot the past 5 weeks about what the Broncos are - both in our minds and in reality. I talked last Sunday after an embarrassing loss to the San Diego Chargers that the Broncos are what I thought they were in July - a team with talent, but a team that is not good enough, or deep enough, to make up for bad play in 1 of the 3 areas of the team - offense, defense or special teams. We saw that on Sunday - all three aspects of the team play poorly and the Broncos lose 32-3.
Where to start? How about Brian Dawkins, who called a team meeting on Tuesday to get the Orange and Blue on the same page. The result? A defense that allowed 38 yards in the first half in shutting out the Giants at halftime for the first time since 2006. Dawkins was everywhere on the field, forcing a fumble and recovering a fumble. He also layed the wood to numerous Giants receivers and running backs making the G-Men pay for every yard. Dawkins left the game against the Chargers early and the team didn't seem to recover. Tonight, Dawkins led the way and the defense followed. A dominating performance.
Just how good was the defense tonight? Brandon Jacobs ran for 27 yards on 11 carries. Eli Manning was 24/40 for 230 yards - much of that in garbage time - while getting sacked 3 times. Manning threw a pick and also lost a fumble. The Giants has just 24 minutes of possession, and were 3-12 on 3rd down. Most impressive was the way the defense played in the Red Zone. They never had to. After allowing 17 Red Zone trips the past 4 games, the Giants never got inside the Broncos 20 until the final moments of the game. It was all Broncos, all the time.
What about the offense? The only thing that consistently stopped the Broncos was, well, themselves. Red Zone problems struck again early on when the Broncos had to settle for 2 field goals. One the Broncos' second trip, 3 procedure penalties killed the Broncos chances. That led to the now-famous F-Bomb by Josh McDaniels that NFLN played on it's broadcast. The Broncos listened, converting their next two chances. Overall, the team ended 2-5 inside the 20.
Kyle Orton was spectacular, save for one pass, in moving the team up and down the field. Orton ended 18/28 for 245 yards with a TD and a Pick. Most impressive to me was Orton's ability to sense pressure and slide around the pocket - something that many thought was a weakness in his game. As Orton has become more comfortable in the offense - behind a much better O-Line than he had in Chicago - many of you are seeing what I saw when Orton was at Purdue - a very, very good passing quarterback.
Knowshon Moreno was incredible as well. He's still trying to get that 100-yard game, but I think we can all see what made him the 12th pick in the draft. Moreno is starting to run with his eyes, and his instinct is taking over. Behnd Moreno, the Broncos ran the ball for 138 yards, and most importantly, the team was able to be well-balanced - 40 carries to 28 passes. Remember the Redskins game?? The exact opposite.
Of course, I can't forget about Brandon Marshall. The Beast was every part of that, making not one, but two amazing 1-handed catches at key moments of the 1st Half. For the game, Marshall had 6 catches for 86 yards. Tony 'Flash' Scheffler was solid as well, making 4 catches for 53 yards.
Kudos to the O-Line. After giving up a sack on the Broncos first play of the game, Kyle Orton was barely touched the rest of the night, and the running game showed some major signs of life. Russ Hochstein is proving to be a huge pick-up, and after struggling last week, Tyler Polumbus was steady at RT.
I have saved the best for last. The Special Teams group played their best game of the season - right up there with the group's performance against the Chargers nearly 6 weeks ago. Matt Prater was money - 5/5 on kick-offs, and 4/4 on field goal chances. Prater is now 15/17(88%) on field goal tries, and his re-found ability to kick the ball into the end-zone kept the Giants backed up all night.
Mitch Berger - the much-maligned Mitch Berger - was solid once again as well. Berger punted the ball 3 times, averaging 48.3 yards per kick, with a net of 41.7. The coverage was solid as well - with David Bruton once again showing he is going to be a player - he already is.
The Broncos now sit at 7-4, looking at 10-days between games before heading the Kansas City. Arrowhead is NEVER a fun place to play, especially in December(ask Pittsburgh). Nonetheless, the Broncos have some extra days to rest up, get healthy, and get ready for the final stretch run. It's fun again in Denver. The Broncos win!