For the second consecutive week, the Denver Broncos have faced defeat at the hands of a top 5 team. As the season progresses, I think most of us will look back and see that this was a boon and not doom for the Broncos. Time marches on and so the focus will shift to Week 4 and hosting the Oakland Raiders. But before we do, let’s look and see the Broncos who stood out in the tough 31-25 loss to the Houston Texans.
This is easy. Peyton Manning was 26/52 for 330 yards, 2 Touchdowns and no Interceptions. It was the 64th 300-yard game for the future Hall of Famer, breaking a tie with Dan Marino for the most 300-yard performances in a career. Those who felt compelled to believe that Manning was going to fall apart on his first hit were sadly mistaken. Peyton was not only Sacked 3 times, but absorbed a pretty good lick during the game for the second straight week. He also threw the most completions in his career on Sunday and cleaned up the 3 picks he threw last week in Atlanta. Even still, there are doubts about his arm strength
The Silver Horseshoe on Offense goes to Wide Receiver Brandon Stokley. Stokes caught all six passes that came his way, for 73 yards and a Touchdown. The score came on a 38-yard pass from Peyton Manning in the 4th quarter, two plays after Justin Bannan’s Fumble Recovery. The Touchdown was also the 28th such occurrence in NFL history that two players 36-years or older connected on a touchdown pass. Brandon is third on the Broncos in receiving with 11 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown after three weeks.
Wide Receiver Eric Decker gets the Golden Horseshoe Nail for his performance on Sunday. Decker caught 8 passes for 136 yards on 11 targets and was the leading receiver for the game. That yardage total was a career high for the 3rd rounder out of Minnesota. Eric leads all Bronco receivers with 17 receptions for 243 yards and 14.3 yards per catch. However, he has yet to find the end zone this season.
The Denver Defense was responsible for setting up 10 of the Broncos 25 points and directly responsible for scoring two. While they didn’t exactly solve the Houston Texans as a complete unit, some parts of the whole did well. Safeties Rahim Moore (9 TKL) and Mike Adams (6 TKL, 3 PD) were the leading Tacklers for the Broncos in Sunday, but part of that came as a result of missed assignments. The guys up front actually stood out the most on the Defensive side of the ball.
In my mind, the Golden Horseshoe on Defense should go to Defensive Linemen Elvis Dumervil, Kevin Vickerson and Justin Bannan. Doom got the party started by Sacking Houston Quarterback Matt Schaub in his own end zone for a Safety on the Texans first possession. Elvis ended up with 5 Tackles, a Sack, a Tackle for Loss, a Pass BreakUp and two Quarterback Hits along with the two-pointer. Doom has 12 Tackles so far this season.
"Big Vick" also contributed 5 Tackles in Sunday’s contest. His big play came in the 4th Quarter when he forced Texans Running Back Arian Foster to cough up the ball. Kevin is second to Dumervil in Tackles on the Defensive Line with 10 on the year.
Justin Bannan had 5 Tackles on the day as well, but he also knocked down a pass attempt by Matt Schaub and more importantly, recovered the Fumble that Kevin Vickerson caused. That recovered fumble was the second of Justin’s career. His first came in Week 2 of his rookie year. Bannan has 9 Tackles for the season.
As far as I’m concerned, the entire Special Teams Unit should get the Golden Horseshoe. Punter Britton Colquitt is tied for 4th in the league in Net Yardage with a 44.1 average and has been outstanding at flipping the field. The Punt coverage guys are doing well too, holding the opposition to a 5.71 yard return average. On Sunday, Houston Punt Returner Trindon Holliday was held to an exceptional 4.8 yard average in 4 return chances. Considering the league average is at 10.4 yards and usually hovers around 9.7 each year, I’d say Jeff Rodgers is earning his ST Coordinator’s salary.
Kicker Matt Prater has been a perfect 4-for-4 on Field Goal Attempts this year and notched a 53-yarder in Sunday’s game. Prater made three Field Goals against Houston and passed Jason Elam as the most accurate kicker in team history. Matt has made 94-of-116 (80.9%) field goals as a Bronco. That 53-yarder also boosted his NFL-record 50-yard career Field Goal percentage to 76.5% (13-of-17).
Matt also matched his career high of five Touchbacks on kickoffs in Sunday’s contest, not allowing the Texans a return opportunity. Out of his 16 kickoffs this season, 12 have gone for Touchbacks (75%). Of the four that have been returned, the Cover guys have held the return man to a 18.5 yard average. Those numbers add up to a big difference during the season.
That’s all I have this week. The next opponent for the Broncos is the Oakland Raiders.
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