Keep your heads up, Broncos fans. Though Sunday's game resulted in a loss, a lot was learned from a game which was there for the Broncos' taking.
I think it's important for some fans to develop thicker skin. In reading the pre-game comments, not many of you expected the Broncos to win this game, but seemed pretty fired up when they lost.
Obviously though, those of you who projected a loss were correct, and I was not. I predicted the Broncos would win by three points, and looking back at the game, they should have won by three touchdowns. I hate the hypothetical game, but you can't help but wonder "what if?" when looking back at the Broncos' red zone opportunities. The 2008 offense seemed to make a comeback today, as the Broncos were 0-5 in red zone opportunities as far as touchdowns go.
That is a putrid number, and even more frustrating as it was a point of emphasis in practice this past week. It will be a point of emphasis again this week, and I think we will hang 30 points on the Titans next week. They have no idea the passing juggernaut that is about to invade their stadium, and the Broncos will turn those opportunities into points this week. Otherwise, jobs will start to be lost.
More rant after the jump...
I really take a lot of good from this game, so if you're in the mood for some feel-good from today's loss, this is the place to be.
The defense played a great game. I know, I know--27 points allowed isn't exactly what you want to see from your boys, but I'll tell you what, we made them work for every one of those points.
The run defense was stellar today. The Colts tried to establish the run on almost every drive, and the Broncos would have none of it. Joseph Addai followed up his stellar week two performance with 29 yards against the Broncos. Needless to say, I think Don Martindale called a good game. You aren't going to be able to pressure Peyton Manning, so you have to try and take away his options.
We all but eliminated Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark from the game, which was encouraging. It also seemed like we had the Colts in third and long at least once on every drive, which will do wonders in beating the Tennessee Titans next week. Force Vince Young to win that game, and the Broncos are in good shape.
Champ Bailey on a bum foot is better than most cornerbacks on a good day. Just ask Perrish Cox, who was picked on all day. Shades of Darrent Williams today (RIP, Darrent) as Cox was absolutely torched by Austin Collie, who had a career game of his own. Blair White got away with a push off on the short touchdown, but Cox was going aggressive anyways and wouldn't have been able to defend the perfect throw from Manning anyways.
Also, let's not crucify McDaniels just yet. I've seen him coach better games, but let's not get out of hand here. The call on 4th and 3 was an option route from Lloyd. Orton read short, Lloyd read deep, and they made our coach look stupid.
On the plus side, our pass protection was absolutely incredible. The only sack from the Colts today was a coverage sack, and wasn't really that Mathis burned Beadles on the right side. In fact, Beadles and the pass protection were absolutely dominant most of the game, and Orton had all day to throw. I think he might even have knit a sweater back there a time or two.
Unfortunately, the good protection did nothing for Orton in the red zone, and the Broncos could not convert on five attempts. I touched on this earlier, but that is an unacceptable statistic.
Still, for as many times as we have passed the ball this season, the pass protection has been fantastic.
On the flip side, the running game was atrocious. As good as the pass blocking was, the run blocking was equally as bad. Laurence Maroney, in his first real action of 2010 including camp, looked rusty. Correll Buckhalter was also rusty, but when three backs give it a shot and there is no success, you've got to look at the guys up front.
Fact of the matter is, the formula for beating the Colts does NOT include three turnovers and zero touchdown in five red zone appearances. You can attribute this loss to failed opportunities and mental mistakes yet again. You cannot have muffed punts against the Colts. You cannot have interceptions cut down good drives. You cannot fail when you get inside the 20. It’s unacceptable.
Like I said in the comment threads. This game proved to me that the Colts are not only beatable, but the Denver Broncos are good enough to beat them and compete against the best in the NFL. Execution will kill you, no pun intended.
We just threw all over the #2 pass defense in the league, and this team can do some damage this season. IF they take advantage of opportunities. Today was not one of those days, and it cost us a quality win against a top tier AFC opponent.
To all tose who lost teeth from their knee jerk reactions, take a deep breath and look at the big picture.
The Chiefs are 3-0 right now, but we all know how meaningful that is in the big picture.