If I had told you 2 months ago that our first victory of 2011 would come in a game where Elvis Dumervil, Champ Bailey, Knowshon Moreno, and Brandon Lloyd were all out due to injuries, how many of you would have believed me and how many of you would have thought I needed to be locked in a mental institution? I would have probably signed myself up for the institution. Nevertheless, it did indeed happen as our Denver Broncos defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 24-22 on Sunday afternoon despite a plethora of victories. There are a lot of things to take away from this game and we will get into a bunch of them, but the main thing is that the Broncos are now 1-1 and tied for 1st place in the AFC West. Can't ask for anything more then that. Now, let's jump into the Studs and Duds.
His day was far from perfect. He made a few mistakes, but his positives definitely outweighed the negatives as he capitalized off of the absence of Brandon Lloyd by catching 5 passes for 113 yards and 2 TD's. He made a couple very nice plays today. One of those plays was a beautiful 25 yard slant route in which the CB had no chance against the big WR from Minnesota. Decker, a favorite for breakout player of the year, has had a strong two weeks for the Broncos. Last week he had his fantastic punt return for a touchdown and this week he had his first 100 yard receiving game of his career. In his first two games of 2011, Decker now has 8 receptions for 166 yards and 2 TD's. He has already surpassed his entire stat line from 2010 (6 catches for 106 yards and 1 TD). So far, he looks like he has the "breakout player of the year award" on lock.
Someone call and make sure Cedric Benson is okay because the man ran into a brick wall on Sunday Afternoon....more then once. Joe Mays played his best game as a pro against the Bengals absolutely dominating Cedric Benson. He wasn't perfect (partly responsible for the big pass play to Caldwell in the 4th), but other then that, the man was an absolute stud. He finished the game with 8 tackles (2nd best on the team) and 2 TFL (best on team). Mays still has work to do, but he was undoubtedly one of the reasons why the Broncos came away with a W on Sunday.
Oh and I just got off the phone with Cedric Benson. He's headed to his therapist because whenever he closes his eyes, he sees #51 running full speed at him.
For a very long time, there have been a lot of people who thought LB Wesley Woodyard could do just as good of a job as D.J. Williams. After Sunday's performance, it's impossible to deny the legitimacy of the argument. Wesley Woodyard played fantastic against the Bengals. He was a tackling machine totaling 13 tackles, 1 TFL, and 1 pass deflection. Woodyard was instrumental in stopping the Bengals run game and securing the win for the Broncos. The aforementioned pass deflection was extremely impressive. He picked up the Bengals WR, stayed with him step for step, and made a diving deflection as the ball got there. It was Champ Bailey-esque and was the type of play that I've never seen out of Williams in coverage. If Woodyard continues to play this well, one has to wonder whether DJ Williams becomes expendable at the end of the year.
The #2 overall draft pick in the 2011 draft is on his way to super stardom. Miller officially recorded his first sack of his Bronco career on Sunday when he came off the edge to sack ginger QB Andy Dalton. Miller is ridiculously quick off of the snap. It's almost unbelievable how quick he gets into the back field. He finished the game with 3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 pass deflections and 1 QB hit. Miller is a mismatch against bigger, slower tackles. I expect his first sack is just a prelude to a whole lot more. Imagine how good he could be once he gets Doom back on the other side.
Here is something that Denver fans have not seen in awhile: The Broncos had a running back rush for over 100 yards on Sunday. Willis McGahee, starting in place of Knowshon Moreno, carried the ball 28 times for 101 yards and 1 TD. Lance Ball helped out carrying the ball 6 times 28 yards. After showing no signs of a running game last week, John Fox showed he was committed to the run by calling 36 running plays on the day as opposed to 25 passes, a sharp contrast from last week. McGahee and Ball had great games against the Bengals. McGahee's 101 yards was surpassed just twice in 2010. Knowshon Moreno ran for 106 and 161 yards last year in his two meetings against Kansas City. If I'm John Fox, I have to seriously consider making Willis McGahee my feature back for the foreseeable future. That is of course as long as Willis realizes he isn't supposed to run out of bounds while we are trying to kill clock..
I think this might have been the best game of Robert Ayers career. The stats don't show it: 1 tackle, 1 pass deflection, and 1 QB hit, but Ayers was instrumental in shutting down Cedric Benson. He sealed the edge perfectly and even applied some pressure to Andy Dalton. The play of the day for him was at the end of the game. The Bengals ran a play action pass with Dalton rolling to the right. Ayers wasn't faked for a second and was immediately on Dalton. Dalton threw a lame duck pass fell incomplete as Ayers was pulling him down to the ground. If not for this play, the Bengals might have gotten a first down and who knows how the game ends. I don't believe Ayers will ever be a great pass rusher, but he is still a very solid player. He's the DE version of Broderick Bunkley.
What has gotten into Britton Colquitt? He punted the ball 6 times today for a 55.8 average. That is insane. The play of the day for Colquitt was a punt which netted 82 yards. I repeat. 82 YARDS! The play was called back on a b.s. penalty on Chris Harris after he was pushed, fell down, and took too long to get back in bounds according to the ref. Nevertheless, Colquitt is playing at a pro bowl level. Keep it up Britton.
The Stormin Mormon had a heck of a game against the Bengals. Larsen not only was good in his usual FB duties, but he caught some nice passes out of the backfield and he played excellent on Special Teams. In a lot of ways, I would consider this a break out game for Larsen. He carried the ball 1 time for 4 yards (a 1st down) and was 2nd on the team with 3 receptions for 23 yards in addition to his regular duties. Who would have thought we would see the day where Larsen was 2nd on the team in receptions?
4th quarter. Bengals on a game winning drive. Broncos need a play? Enter Jonathan Wilhite, the dreaded warrior. Wilhite was sent on an overload blitz by the very clever Dennis Allen. Wilhite sacked Dalton, setting up a long 3rd down for the Bengals. Wilhite played sparingly in last week's game against the Raiders, but with Champ out, Wilhite got more time this week. He capitalized totaling 4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL, and 1 QB hit. After the performances of Andre Goodman and Cassius Vaughn, it wouldn't surprise me if Wilhite got more playing time in the coming weeks. His 1 sack was one more play then Nate Jones made in his time in Denver.
Return Of The Mile High Salute
A thing of beauty.
It was a pretty good outing for Orton. He had a nice stat line: 15 of 25 for 195 yards and 2 touchdowns, but he still left points on the board (1 of 2 in the red zone) and Denver was just 5 of 12 on 3rd downs. Orton made some nice throws (particularly his throws to Decker), but his performance left me wanting more. If Denver would have lost that game on that final drive, would he still be a stud? I'm not so sure, but it doesn't matter. Denver won so Orton deserves a spot here.
Gather round kids. I'm going to tell you one of my favorite stories. The Legend of the Wolverine and the Fountain Of Youth. There once was a football player they called Wolverine. He was a good man, full of strength and vitality. However, as the Wolverine grew older, he noticed his strength and vitality were waning. Hoping to regain his once glorious form, the Wolverine set out to find the fountain of youth. Unfortunately for the Wolverine, the quest would take a long time. So he devised a scheme. He used his intelligence and his wits to create a machine he called "DeMaurice Smith". This machine was programmed to stop the football season so the Wolverine could go on his long quest. The machine came up with and executed a plan to stop the football season. As the machine was executing the plan, the Wolverine traveled all over looking for the fountain of youth. He went from New York to California and across the whole country looking for the fountain of youth, but he could not find it. Then, one day, on his way home, he stopped by at a restaurant called "Elways". As he was eating, he realized the fountain in the lobby was the fabled fountain of youth. So ran to the front of the restaurant, cupped his hands, and drank from the magical fountain. Immediately, he was filled with the vitality he once had. That is the story of the Wolverine and the Fountain of Youth.
Andre Goodman and Cassius Vaughn
Did we re-sign Nate Jones and Perrish Cox while I wasn't looking? No? Okay, just making sure because I couldn't tell the difference between Jones/Cox and Goodman/Vaughn. Goodman was constantly getting beat and Vaughn wasn't much better. Two of the Bengals receivers went over 100 yards receiving on the day. Vaughn had looked good in the pre season and in week 1, but he showed he is clearly a ways away from being a full time starter. By the looks of it, Denver may need to have CB high on their 2012 draft list *cough Dre Kirkpatrick cough*. So rest up Champ because we need you back ASAP. Also, I would expect Denver to sign S Darren Sharper on Tuesday to bolster the secondary.
Does anyone know if Clady switched jerseys with Orlando Franklin before the game? Clady looked awful against the Bengals getting 2 holding penalties and being responsible for a strip fumble. I'm not sure why Clady played so poorly, but he definitely looks like he has regressed from his previous pro bowl form which is a scary thought. Maybe it was just a one game thing? We can only hope...
I don't get it. The Broncos entered the year with 5 Wide Receivers: Brandon Lloyd, Eddie Royal, Eric Decker, Matt Willis and Demaryius Thomas. Demaryius Thomas is still weeks away from playing. That left us with 4 WR heading into the season. Brandon Lloyd got hurt in the opening game against the Raiders. That means Denver had just 3 healthy WR on the roster. Why didn't Fox promote pre season stud Eron Riley? Why didn't he cut a crap player like Manny Ramirez to promote Riley for the game? It's not like we recently picked up Riley and he doesn't know the offense. No, instead Fox had Tim Tebow act as the emergency receiver. Some fans got a kick out of it, but I am not one of them. That is absolutely atrocious planning. He needs to be better prepared then that.
Now, the Broncos are without 2 pass catchers: Eddie Royal and Julius Thomas. Royal had a groin injury and Thomas suffered a high ankle sprain. Denver's offensive weapons are shrinking every day. Denver's injury list now consists of Brandon Lloyd, Knowshon Moreno, Eddie Royal and Julius Thomas. Those are 4 key starters on Denver's offense. I would expect Eron Riley and possibly D'Andre Goodwin to be activated. Dare I suggest a certain player with initials of T.O?
For the second week in a row, the Broncos lost the turnover battle. Denver lost two fumbles on Sunday. One was when Orton got strip fumbled and the other was when Decker lost control of the ball after making a reception. It didn't come back to bite the Broncos this time, but it certainly will against teams who know how to capitalize off mistakes.
Last week, the Broncos committed 10 penalties for 91 yards. This week, 7 penalties for 55 yards. Technically, that is progress, but it's certainly not enough to make me feel comfortable heading into week 3. Denver needs to clean up all the holds, off sides, and false start penalties need to stop. They are going to end up costing us games.
That's it folks. The Broncos are 1-1 and tied for 1st place in the AFC West. It wasn't easy and we could have easily lost, but we didn't. The team rallied around each other and pulled out a W. Folks, this is something that the team could not do last year. A lot of credit goes out to our defense, specifically the linebackers who stopped Cedric Benson from running all over us. There is a lot of football left to play and it will be exciting to see if we can build off this momentum. Next week we got Tennessee. Until next time, MHR.