Boy was it ugly out there for the offense. I've been on such a Kool-Aid high that I admit I was starting to get ahead of myself. It was right around Thursday that I decided to temper my enthusiasm because we haven't beaten any teams of any significance to this point. Cue in the Chiefs and we struggle to come away with a win against the worst team in football with their backup QB. I initially predicted a blowout but had the "but" scenario in my head because we all know about divisional games. No matter the record, division games always seem to play out different than what's on paper. Great to know that even when Peyton and the offense struggle to put up points, we still win games. A testament to the outstanding defense being played by Denver.
"Hey, what are you doing back there?"
Let's Get Saucey
Knowshon got the start and pretty much the whole bulk of the plays. I always thought it was peculiar how he went from being second in the depth chart to being inactive since week 2. I thought there was a plan in place for his services. Was it motivational? Was it to rest him for the stretch run? It just didn't compute that Lance Ball was getting so much playing time while Knowshon sat in street clothes every week. I don't think it was a rehearsal like some insinuated because this is a divisional game and you just don't play around with wins in the NFL. We are still shooting for a first round bye. Well, Knowshon did what he normally does to the Chiefs and that's produce. He accumulated 111 total yards on the day. I know he can be useful in this offense. Hopefully that fire John Fox lit under him will stick. Great game by Knowshon and hopefully he keeps it up because we're going to need him. And he didn't fumble!
Lean On Me
The defense came away with another dominating performance. Giving up just 264 total yards on the day will win you a lot of games. Denver passed for more yards alone. We were getting gashed from time to time by the run game, but the unit held tough. They were constantly put in tough situations by the offense but 1 drive alone and our half long deficit ended with a lead at halftime. I was expecting a lot more sacks and turnovers but I'll settle for 9 total points even after the constant 3 and outs by our offense. Let's not fool ourselves though. A performance like that by the offense in the playoffs will lead to an early exit. There's still time to clean it up, but time is running out.
What a BIG dud Matt Prater was for this game. Definitely took any momentum the offense was trying to establish. 2 missed FGs in a gritty fight usually leads to a loss. Luckily this defense has developed and Peyton is at QB. Matt was so pissed off by the misses that he kicked the third attempt OVER the net. You could just see he was pissed. Well, at least he ended the day on a good note. Hopefully his mental toughness isn't the size of Mike Vanderjagt's. Clean it up Matt. We're going to need you in the playoffs where it may just come down to you in the closing seconds.
It's Going To Be a Bumpy Ride
The offense just could not get into a rhythm. They'd put together some drives but end up with nothing to show for it after 2 Matt Prater missed FGs. The run defense by the Chiefs was pretty impressive. Knowshon did find some success but the defense was getting into the backfield way more than a playoff team should allow against the worst team in the NFL. I know the Chiefs have some pieces on that defense, but this is not a good team. Multiple drops and missed throws, especially on 3rd downs. More 3 and outs than they had all year. Again, this is a divisional game where players get to know each others' strengths and weaknesses. It's easy to blow out a Carolina Panther team when they don't even know how big and fast DT is running down the field. The Chiefs know what moves will work and what won't against Ryan Clady, who gave up his first sack of the season.
Why is our best defensive player sitting on the sideline? Von was a spectator more than I'd prefer. I wasn't sure if he was injured or what. At first I thought it was a strategy to keep him fresh, but when I see him on the sideline on 3rd and 3, then it shows me that's the game plan. We played a bunch of Nickel packages with Robert Ayers playing DE and DJ Williams at LB. My understanding is that we were using a Big Nickel where Robert and DJ are in to help against the run while we had an extra DB. I get the idea, but don't agree with having our best player on the sideline. Sure he's undersized at the line and DJ is a bigger body, but Von has more than proved he's an effective player against the run. He's made plays all year against the ground game where he leads the entire league with tackles for a loss. The Big Nickel was still getting gashed for big yardage. I hope we were just testing that personnel group rather than installing it. I don't like it. Keep Von in the game.
2nd Line of Defense
Saw some great safety play yesterday. Rahim Moore has really shown great improvement from last year. To this point, I would label him as reliable! He can really bring the wood coming down to support against the run or a crossing WR. He's getting more instinctual and playing at full speed. A lot weren't very happy with Rahim last year and rightfully so, but he's really turned the corner and has dramatically improved his game. It's night and day. Mike Adams was also a sure tackler. Open field tackles are important. Once a receiver would catch the ball, a defender is there a split second later to end the play. Thank you JDR for some great coaching. This is the most consistent safety tandem we've had since John Lynch and Nick Ferguson. It's too bad we lost Quentin Carter to injury, but hopefully he can improve the position when he comes back next year.
Sun In Your Eye
Not sure if anyone mentioned this yesterday in the threads, but DT's TD was amazing. Such great concentration. If you rewatch it, when he first looks back for the ball, the sun is in his eyes. Then he runs through a shaded area and right back to the sun right before the ball arrives. His pupils were out of wack in that 1 second span and DT was still able to catch the ball with ease. I've played football for a long time, and sun in the eye was always a big challenge. Catching the ball with the glare is impressive enough. Now doing it while your eyes transition from bright - dark - bright in a matter of 1.6 seconds is what makes it amazing to me. Keep it up DT. He came in raw, but he's being refined at a rapid rate under PFM.
The Champ is Here
Champ Bailey came back with a strong performance. D. Bowe was held to 4 catches out of 10 targets. Champ was all over him. Sure we were playing the inept Chief offense with backup Brady Quinn at QB, but Bowe was never really open. Champ was always within arms reach. Bowe was questionable for the game and Champ wasn't very happy about it. He always wants the challenge every week. Not many players have that mindset. Love his intensity and what he's about. He's so good at run support that he is arguably the greatest all around CB ever to play the game. Loved seeing him evade 2 blockers like a matador to make the stop on a run. I'm still torn on whether to buy a Champ(I played DB so I'm biased) or a Von Miller jersey. I just can't pull the trigger.
Little Quick Notes:
- Trindon Holliday is doing exactly what we brought him here to do. He's so fast that even if the defender has the angle on him, he has full confidence he can outrun it. He almost did it twice!
- Love how our WRs don't act like divas after a big catch. They're not out there talking trash to defenses and losing their cool. Love the character of this team. We don't have any loud mouths.
- Some really poor clock management by the referees. Consistently stopping the game for no reason. Get out the way and let the boys play. Geez.
- So did anyone hear if we resigned Jeremiah Johnson back to the practice squad? Would really like to keep him on the squad. I think he has plenty of upside.
- Eric Berry just isn't the same. He hasn't recovered to the point I'm sure he expected along with their fan base. He was outstanding as a rookie and looked to dominate the middle of the field for years to come. Now, he's constantly being targeted. He was even dragged from the 4 yard line into the endzone for Tamme's TD. He's no longer a force to wreckon with.
- Is Ronde Barber a Hall of Famer? How can he not be? He just returned another pick 6. He's been playing for so long and has consistently made plays year after year. I'm sure he's glad he chose to be a DB instead of a RB like his brother. Longevity is key.
Well, that wraps it up for this weeks' review. It wasn't as fun to watch as I had initially expected. Again, I've taken off the orange and blue sun glasses and will be more reserved. Until we beat the Bucs and Ravens, this team is NOT a contender. They've been good against bad teams. They've done what good teams are supposed to do, but until they beat a "real" team, I'm keeping 1 foot off the bandwagon. Bring on the Bucs and let's get some more sacks! Go Broncos!!