Introducing, your 2012 AFC West Division Champions. 2 years, 2 division titles. Great start to the John Elway/Fox era. In just the second year they have constructed a team that can be considered a serious contender for the Lombardi trophy. An offense that can put up 30 points a game and a suffocating defense that gets after the quarterback. A big game is looming in the short distance, but if the Steelers can beat them I'm sure we'll have a good shot. Again, congrats on another division title. Now the focus shifts to playoff positioning. Texans look like they have the 1st spot locked but the second seed is still very much up for grabs. I'm not too disappointed in the Texans taking homefield because I don't mind Peyton playing in a dome on turf for the AFC championship. First off, let's go one game at a time. Let's stack these wins together and finish 13-3.
Dance the Night Away
Von Miller gets his first NFL interception along with his first NFL TD. Once again Von was a force throughout the game. He's a major headache for every offense. They have to specifically game plan for him and he's still getting it done. This is the best LB play in the NFL. It's a pleasure to see it every week on my own team. He lead the team in tackles and recorded another strip sack to his total. We really need to get on top of these loose balls more often though. Obviously no sophomore slump for Von. The best part about it is, he's not even in his prime! Which is a scary thought...for the rest of the league. Sure glad Marcell Dareus is in Buffalo!
Tale of Two Halves
First half was sloppy and inconsistent. Penalties killed drives and dropped passes with errant passes kept the offense off rhythm. Defense let the Bucs get in a little rhythm early in the first half with a 10-7 lead. The main difference with this team is I never get nervous. I have full confidence that we will eventually come back and take the lead. The second half supported that notion. Two 3 and outs forced by our defense to start the half lead to 2 offensive TDs. Mixed in with some outstanding special teams play. This game was well in hand before starters started seeing the bench. The Buccaneers made the score respectable, but there was never any real threat to the victory.
Let It Rein
Mitch Unrein just had his best game as a pro. He caught his first pass which turned out to be his first NFL TD. Great play call that left Mitch wide open as no one would have ever thought he would even be an option. Not only did he shine on offense, he also contributed to Von's first NFL pick 6 as he was all over Freeman's grill forcing an errant pass. If you rewatch that play, if Von wasn't even in the play, Chris Harris was in position for his 2nd pick 6 on the season. Great pressure lead to a very very poor decision.
Same Old Champ
Champ Bailey set the tone early with a vicious hit on the second play from scrimmage. A sure tackler and a lock down corner. He limited Vincent Jackson to just 2 receptions for 31 yards. The same Jackson that has been having another solid season. Well on his way to another 1000 yards. Thanks to Champ, he'll need to wait another week. Actually in Jackson's 12 games against the Broncos, he's never had a 100 yard game. This is a top WR in the NFL. Easy to guess who was opposite of Vincent in all those games. Jackson did have a 3rd reception for 24 yards but that was with Champ standing on the sideline as a spectator. What a luxury it is to have such an elite CB playing for your defense. It just allows the defense to do so much more when they can just leave Champ on an island and game plan against the rest. You could even see the shift in game play when Champ was sent to the bench. That's what it would look like if we had let this aging vet go in free agency.
Top 5 Defense
Del Rio's goal to start the season was to be a top 5 defense in the NFL. Well, we're there. Rush defense was considered our weakness but the unit proved otherwise today. Doug Martin has been one of the top RBs in the NFL as of late. A player many here in the community wanted to select with our first pick in the draft. Our stingy defense held Muscle Hamster to just 56 yards rushing on 18 carries. He started in rhythm early to gain chunks of yards but the defense held strong the rest of the way and made him a non factor. This defense gave up less than half of the passes they faced. Tight coverage all around. Chris Harris was beat deep early but locked down afterwards. Even got his hands on a bunch of passes. He was always in tight coverage as they kept challenging him. He was consistently in the mixed to break up passes and make immediate tackles.
Win Lose or Draw?
The offensive line really struggled to hold the point of attack against this tough Bucs front 7. Quite often Knowshon would get the ball with a defender already waiting to wrap him up. Beadles and Koppen were just completely blown off the line on separate plays. There was also a little more pressure up the middle than we're used to seeing. As weak as our line looked, we were still able to outrush the Bucs. We also didn't give up any sacks as Peyton had enough time to carve up the defense to the tune of 3 TD passes. Clearly there is more work to be done. Just hoping we have enough time before the playoffs begin.
Curious Case of Knowshon
Another solid performance by Knowshon against THE top run defense in the NFL. This was a tough match up but he was still able to outrush his counterpart, the Muscle Hamster. He had several great runs where he used his athleticism that I don't think Willis McGahee could have done. I'm not saying he's the better RB, but he definitely brings more of a playmaking ability to the position. It's clear after 2 games that the coaches view Moreno as the second best RB in the stable. So the big question is why was he inactive for most of the season? Ball got in the game again today and did nothing with his opportunities. Knowshon is a great pass protector so I don't even know why so many try to use that as a knock against him. Sure he blew a play in preseason, but I haven't seen him mess up since. I've always backed Knowshon and certainly glad he's been a positive contributor to the team. Hoping he keeps improving.
Little Quick Notes:
- Matt Prater has now missed 5 FGs in the last 4 games. Not sure what's going on in his head but he really needs to get out of this funk because the playoffs are fast approaching.
- Jacob Tamme had a great game. Got the most targets from Peyton today and he didn't disappoint with his 9 receptions for 89 yards.
- Matt Willis played well today. He was a reliable target. He's struggled a bit lately but he came up big playing in place of Stokley. Nothing flashy, but sure handed today. What does that say about Bubba Caldwell when Willis has been struggling lately.
- LOVED the 3rd and 1 conversion by Knowshon while he was on the ground and Peyton threw it to him anyway. Great heads up play by both Broncos.
- Trindon Holliday does it again. He's lightning in a bottle. Every time he touches the ball is potential of a big play. Great upgrade.
- Lavonte David was impressive today. Could have used that pick. Only time will tell where this situation ends up. Really hoping we did the right thing in taking Oz.
- Omar Bolden is this year's David Bruton on special teams. Hoping he doesn't end up just a specialist though. He's still a liability when he's in on defense.
- Of course the Jets finally bench Sanchez when Tebow is inactive. They're really testing his faith.
It's going to be a short week as we prepare for the inept Oakland Raiders. This is another division game so it's not going to be a cake walk. Would love for it to be a blow out but a win is all that matters. As long as the Broncos keep the momentum, I don't see another loss happening this year. The short week also leads to a long prep week for the Baltimore Ravens. Everything is really lining up for the Broncos. Let's keep the streak alive. Go Broncos!