This past week, I wrote two articles detailing Denver's struggles in a couple statistical areas. You can read them again here as a reference.
More after the jump.
My first article discussed how Denver, coming into Week 10, was significantly worse than Kansas City in almost every statistical category. I even detailed in my Key Stat for a Victory how Denver was last in my Misc stat that takes the average ranking of net turnovers, averaged penalties per game and finally net third and fourth down conversions. The only advantage Denver had was with the play of Kyle Orton. Sunday against Kansas City, Denver was drastically different.
The chart below shows how Denver improved in my Misc stat.
|Weeks 1-8||Wk 10 vs. KC|
|Net TOs||-5.5 (29th)||+1|
|Penalties Avg.||6.3 PG / 66.8 YPG (22nd)||3 Pen for 28 Yards|
|Net 3rd/4th Down||-7.1 (29th)||+13.4|
Instead of throwing away possessions, Denver never turned the ball over and forced a key KC fumble.
Crucial mistakes were avoided, as Denver finally showcased fundamentally sound football with only 3 penalties.
Denver not only performed admirably going 6 of 11 on third and fourth down, but they held KC to 7 of 17 (41.2 %) on third and fourth down. Through the first quarter, Denver only faced 1 third down, and converted it.
These stats show Denver avoided negative down situations that had resulted from a poor running game, sacks and penalties.
I closed with what I believed to be the most important aspects of Denver's failures this year. In my Areas of Focus section, I wrote Denver needed to protect Orton and help Moreno average 4.0 YPC. Sunday, Orton was not sacked, and Moreno had his first 100-yard game and averaged 4.8 YPC.
The most important part of that stat, though, was that Moreno had 47 yards on 6 carries and the o-line helped Denver rush for 69 yards on 8 carries in the first quarter. For the first time all year, Denver ran effectively on a consistent basis and opened the passing game drastically.
My second article address the rather bland nature of Denver's defense and special teams. Through 9 weeks, only Denver and 5 other teams had failed to score a non-offensive point. Sunday, Denver provided a wonderful surprise with a defensive touchdown by OLB Jason Hunter who returned a sack-fumble by Mario Haggan 72 yards for the score.
This was not only a huge play by itself, but it stopped KC from potentially pulling within 28-7. Instead, Haggan and Hunter put the game away 35-0. While Denver may not have needed that touchdown to defeat KC, it provided an exclamation point to an incredible performance in a first half I could never have predicted, even if I had focused on this topic the week leading up to the game.
So now Denver is 3-6 and faces San Diego on Monday Night Football. How do they carry this over to next week? They need to remember how they felt the week prior to the Kansas City game and realize that they are still in the same situation. They are last in the AFC West and are playing a heavily favored divisional team.
They must execute the small things and take care of business on their side of the game. For them to win, they must continue to improve in turnovers, penalties and net third down percentage. They must be able to run the ball and they must protect Orton.
Denver performed well in all of these areas this week. Its time to do it again for a second week in a row.