Ouch....that loss hurt. Now we all know how the 2012 Chargers felt after giving up a 24 point halftime lead. It's extremely deflating. The game couldn't have started off any better. Defense was all over Pretty Boy Tom Brady and the game was turning into a college level route. Up 24, I still had this uneasy feeling about the second half. The struggles in the passing game the first half left me questioning how ready we would be for the inevitable second half run by the Patritos. Unfortunately, our vaunted passing game was grounded by the elements for the most part, and the dream quickly turned into a nightmare....
Photo By: Denver Broncos - Associated Press
The Gift And A Curse
We are so fortunate to have arguably the best QB to ever play the game. We should be thanking our lucky stars that Elway had the swag to get Peyton to choose Dove Valley over the rest. With the wins and stats racking up, it's easy to say we hit gold with this gamble on an aging, reconstructed HOF QB. The flip side of that coin, comes the negatives. Since his arrival, the Broncos have seemingly turned the ball over at an alarming rate. The formula for beating this Broncos team is out. Of the 6 losses under the Peyton regime, we've given up on average 34 points and 3.16 turnovers per game.(twice to the Patriots) Turnovers are the great equalizer for any team, but when you're dealing with a record pace setting offense, clearly turnovers are your only chance. This week's game was considered to have a playoff feel to it. Eerily reminiscent of our 2012 playoff one-and-done. The passing game was once again affected by the elements and Peyton could not get this offense jumpstarted. Sadly, it once again ended with a late turnover in OT that lead to a short FG attempt. Sad to admit, but my confidence in this team hoisting the Lombardi took a major hit.
Knowshon Moreno comes out with his career performance on SNF. I figured we would run it more this week due to the elements and Julius being out of the game. This also keeps Manning upright more often than not, but no one could have predicted the straight up MAN game Knowshon had last night. He ran the ball a 1960's throwback era style 37 times for 224 yards at 6.1 a pop and a goal line TD. He ran with great vision and read his blocks perfectly. He's finally got it folks. He's no longer thinking, but just running naturally. Way to step up and carry a team on your back that includes a HOF QB. As sudden as his break out game came out, so did his exit. He pulled up lame in OT and hobbled to finish the game. He was on crutches in the locker room. Could his M.O. have caught up to him yet again? Hoping he avoids any major injuries because he is clearly way ahead of the other horses in the stable. We may not see Montee for the rest of the year. Rest up Knowshon. You are indeed a major part of this offense.
Introducing Your 2013 Von Miller
As questions kept getting louder and louder about Von's sub-par performance(by his standards) so far this year, he comes up big on the big stage. He looked more fluid than in previous weeks. He looked quick and agile as he constantly dipped and ripped to beat his opponents to the QB. The spin move finally started working for him this week as it has constantly failed in his first few weeks back. I was questioning his weight gain as he's looked slower than we expect. I still didn't see the get-off that he's displayed in the past, but it was sure quicker than the average LB. Quick enough to lead him to a stat line of 8 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for a loss, 3 QB hits, a fumble recovery and a scoop and score for 60 yards. He followed up that score with a strip sack of Brady that Knighton almost took to the house. Welcome back Von, we're going to need you more and more as the temps keep dropping and our offense gets grounded.
Air Game Grounded
All the stats leading up to this point mean absolutely nothing come playoff time. If you don't win the ring, the season is a failure. Especially when you have a team built like these Broncos, anything but a championship is a loss. Sure the air attack is pretty to look at, but what happens when that attack stalls? Decker was basically irrelevant. DT couldn't get open until the end of regulation. My main focus is the Ex-Patriot, Wes Welker. He had his shot to stick it to the team that basically dumped him for a fragile, younger, more expensive version. He caught 4 passes out of 8 targets for 31 yards. Problem with that stat line is he dropped 3 of them. 2 were critical in meaning points vs punts. The biggest came in OT where he dropped a pass on 3rd down that would have given the Broncos a shot at a game winning FG or possibly a 4th and 1 conversion. The drop ultimately lead to muffed punt and the loss. In a playoff scenario atmosphere, our stars disappeared.
Boy our fellas were hitting out there last night. Woodyard started it off with an outstanding fill of the hole and popping the ball from Ridley's grip for Von's scoop and score. Von added his own and even Duke Ihenacho got in on the action. One of my notes coming into this game was how the buzz around Duke had pretty much subsided. Then he has a game like this and becomes a difference maker. He had 2 notable blasts on the night and that "Nacho Crunch" on Blount put the RB to sleep leading to Trevathan's fumble recovery. He reminded me of Atwater roaming the secondary. Duke isn't the biggest safety in the league, but he brings the wood. In total, the Patriots put the ball on the ground 6 times, most of which were forced by bone crushing hits. Didn't like the score, but I liked the physical play by our defense. This isn't the finesse defense of yesteryears.
Jacob Tamme deserves a lot of praise. He's been non existent on this Juggernaut offense due to the emergence of Julius Thomas. We didn't hear a peep from Tamme. He just kept coming in and playing special teams like he's been asked and has done it quite well. He is surprisingly really good on special teams and leads the team in tackles. Then he's asked to pick up the pace in the passing game and he made a seamless transition catching a TD going into the half. He even lead the team in receptions and yards. Actually, he caught every pass that was thrown his way. I'm glad the FO didn't listen to me when I suggested trading him before the last round of cuts. That depth really came in handy.
Little Quick Notes:
- The Broncos Bash Brothers(Von, Woodyard and Trevathan) all made a hit that put the ball on the ground. Are we not set at LB for the foreseeable future?
- Sly Sylvester finally got in the line up again, and didn't do anything with it. Our 1st round draft pick is a wash this year. Still have patience that he develops going forward.
- Did our running game hamper our passing game? Seemed like it took forever for our offense to get warmed up through the air. Never got a rhythm.
- Derek Wolfe was as irrelevant in the game as he was in the stat sheet. Need some of our young studs to really step up when the lights are their brightest.
- Penalties still killing us. Where is the discipline? 9 penalties for 85 yards and 3 for first downs.
- Can someone please show Chris Harris Jr. how to wear a ski mask? He's far to smooth of a player to be looking like that.
- Just as Montee Ball was having his best game as a pro, he put the ball on the ground yet again. Leading to a momentum swinging TD. Fortunately for him, Knowshon will probably miss some time so he and Hillman will be activated for games. Here's your second/third chance Ronnie.
A stunning defeat after being in total control in the first half. Like the saying always goes, you have to play a full 60 minutes. In some cases, even more. The fortunate thing is we still hold our own destiny. We win out and we're the #1 seed going into the post season. It's a different game in Denver. The crowd will be on our side and we can run the "hurry hurry" in silence. Sure it's a loss on the record, but there's underlying benefits that come out of these types of games. These are playoff scenarios and we're practicing for when it really counts, the playoffs. The Broncos will have possibly 3 more games in extreme conditions preparing them for the frigid weather that comes in January. They'll have plenty of opportunities to play in the elements leading up to the Super Bowl where more than likely, weather will be a factor as it's played in Giants/Jets stadium of New Jersey. By then, the Broncos will already be battle tested. Now we go against the Chiefs for the second time in 14 days. They're just as beat up as our Broncos. Losing Tamba Hali and Justin Houston is HUGE. Rivers was able to pick apart that "immovable object" of a defense and light them up for over 40. Can someone please point out where Marcus Cooper is on every play then go that way. Now comes in a pissed off Peyton and company. The division is up for the taking. Let's get this 8 game winning streak started. Go Broncos.