The Titans, along with the elements, were no match for this speeding freight train. With all our offensive weapons back on the field, there was really no chance for the Titans' number 1 pass defense to stop them. There's just so many options for Peyton on every single play that someone will beat their defender. A telling fact is that 4 different players now have scored at least 10 total TDs. Even more impressive is the fact that each of these players(DT, Julius, Welker and Knowshon) have already surpassed their career best for a season. Every TD from here on out is just adding onto their personal record.
Photo By: Denver Broncos - Gabriel Christus
Not So Obvious Observations
1) With the freezing temperatures at kickoff, many assumed that we would grind out the win through the running game. The two headed monster of Knowshon and Montee were dominant in accumulating 155 yards on just 29 carries for an average of 5.3 yards a carry. Two of which found paydirt. You'd think we played a ground and pound game. Flash back to preseason, the rain started to come down halfway through a game. The starters were well out of the picture at that point. All of a sudden, you see Peyton throw on his helmet and start warming up. Fox had to literally tell him "no" on the sideline as Peyton looked like a scolded child asking to take a lost dog home. That was Peyton looking for an opportunity to get live reps in live elements. Fast forward. On a freezing day where there's expectation that the passing game will get affected, We turned it up through the air. My conspiracy theory is that we took this opportunity to prepare for the expected elements that will come with the postseason. Especially if we lock up home field throughout and reach the Super Bowl in the open stadium of NJ. 59 pass attempts, which is a season high by 10 attempts, against the best pass defense leads me to this assumption. Foxy wanted this offense to keep their rhythm no matter how cold it is outside. In practice, teams constantly go through situational football. Well, this was a great situation to prepare for knowing the road to the Lombardi trophy will most likely include blistering temperatures. Our players will know beforehand how to adjust for the elements and not miss a beat. Imagine San Fran/Seattle in NJ under snowy weather. They may take a whole quarter just to settle in and adjust to the weather. That is an advantage for cold weather teams in regards to this year's unique Super Bowl location. When you have THE most prepared QB of all time, there may just be some substance this theory.
2) A few weeks back there was a lull in our offense where it seemed like we started to lose some steam. After back to back games scoring less than 30 points followed by a 150 yard outing from Manning against the Patriots, it looked like this offense had come back down to earth and the scoring/TD records were in jeopardy. Then the offense snapped out of it and scores 9 TDs against 2 of the better defenses in the NFL these past 2 weeks. My assumption is Peyton is healthy again. The zip on his passes these past two games makes me think he found the fountain of youth. If not for so many dropped passes, Manning would have looked even more impressive. If that's even possible. There is a stark contrast between a hobbled Peyton(Jags/Colts) vs a healthy Manning(Ravens/Titans). Keep the man clean because he is the key to the promised land.
They Have a Mark
Kayvon Webster looked great the first half of the season and flashed plenty of promise. Well, the film is out. He is now the target of opposing offenses. Where ever he is, that's most likely where the ball is going. He got beat early on the first drive for a huge 57 yard gain that eventually lead to a quick opening drive TD for the Titans. Despicable defense all around to start the game. We played what looked like Cover 1 defense as Omar Bolden floated to the deep middle on the snap. Kayvon had his man one-on-one and plainly got beat and eventually outran. Bolden saved the TD. Kayvon was repeatedly targeted and lost on the majority. Could Webster have hit his rookie wall? Until he starts to make more plays on balls and even add some interceptions, he will consistently be the mark on this defense. We have a good one, but it will take time for him to get where we want him to be. To add insult to injury, he was responsible for the penalty that erased Andre Caldwell's return for a TD. Not a good all around day for the rook.
Teaching An Old Fox New Tricks
The knock on Fox before the hire was that he was an old school coach stuck in his old school ways. Run, run, run and possibly punt. His conservative play has constantly been brought up in Denver losses. I think he gets it folks. On the opening drive for Denver, he went for it on 4th down.....not once, but twice! This is far from the old school coach that got stale in Carolina. He knows what he has under center and he's putting his trust in the greatest QB to play the game. I for one, am proud of Foxy and his ability to change with the times. We passed the ball 59 times to 32 rushes. This ain't the same old Foxy. That killer mentality is exactly what we'll need for the postseason.
Calling All Reserves
This defense flashed both the good and bad of this unit through this game. The ugly was the first 21 points. Then we went on a dominating streak to close out the game. There was another TD sprinkled in that span, but the defense was rocking after an early lapse. We had backups playing all over the defense to start the game. I may have missed it, but why was Paris Lenon in for Woodyard. I eventually heard we may have been resting our captain. But we still played him on special teams? Why not just rest him. Special teams have tons of violent collisions. Ask Nate Irving. Then Omar Bolden was roaming the deep center to start the game. Why was Duke not playing? I don't recall him being all that hurt last week. Was it a demotion? Champ, what the heck happened there? He was a full participant in practice all week until he was downgraded on Friday? Did he get hurt again? Not looking good for the Champ. I feel bad for the guy cause I feel his time is limited on this team. Sly Williams played well yesterday. Chris Johnson was only able to churn out 3.8 a carry, but we did give up a big chunk to Shonn Greene. Other than that carry, Greene was only able to average 2.25 a carry. We held the Titans under a 100 yards on the ground. Keep it up big youngin.
Are we leading the league in dropped passes yet? Yesterday may have been our worst day of dropsies. Welker had about 4 drops in this game. 1 was for a TD. Living in the NE area, all I heard after we signed Welker away from the Patriots is that he drops too many passes anyway. Ungrateful fanbase this bunch. Welker was a beast for the Patriots and they unceremoniously walked him out the back door. After almost a full season, I guess they were right. Welker may come up with some amazing catches, but he drops way too many on-targets passes. He was notorious for some big drops in Super Bowls. We can't have the same happen in an orange jersey. Wes was not the only one with an issue yesterday. The drops were happening all around the offense. Montee has stone hands whether it's cold or not outside. That is his biggest weakness. He clearly doesn't catch the ball as smoothly as you'd expect from a Knowshon replacement. DT gets a pass because he's clearly injured. If you look at his TD and when Peyton comes to congratulate him, you can see DT is favoring that left shoulder as he shakes Peyton's hand. These drops seem to be occurring more and more which is the exact opposite of what you'd expect as the season progresses.
Secret Studs in Waiting
1) Montee Ball with back to back promising games. After last weeks 100+ rushing day, he followed it up with another strong 77 yards at an average of 5.1 a carry. Statistically, he makes more people miss and gains more yardage after contact than his RB counterpart, Knowshon. I've mentioned it before, but Montee has awesome wiggle and makes the first defender miss time after time. He also displayed a lot of power in this game. His TD looked stuffed at the 1 when he powered through into the endzone. That was a free run head to head collision with Bernard Pollard and we know what Pollard is capable of. He got his first 100 yard game under his belt last week, but this game really opened my eyes to his potential...this year! After all the fumbles, I pretty much wrote his rookie year off. Figured he'd pick it back up next year with more understanding of the pro tempo. This game gave me hope that he will be a major contributor to a championship run. He ran with awesome vision and power to go along with the make-you-miss-in-a-telephone-booth ability. He's even holding the ball high and tight protecting it from being stripped. He's catching up to Knowshon which is a good thing for this team.
2) I've had Malik Jackson on my notes these past few games but wanted to wait until he was more significant on the stat sheet. I've noticed him for weeks causing problems for offenses during game day but not getting on the all important stat sheet. If you look at the game winning FG by the Patriots a couple weeks back, one player stands out and it's Malik Jackson breaking through the line with arms extended. Closest person to blocking the kick. Little things like that have stood out for me. I will go out on a limb and say he will be a Pro-Bowl player in 2 years, if not next year. Derek Wolfe has gotten all the press from that draft, but Malik is a gem not many really know about. We've seen him dominate an entire possession all by himself earlier in the year. Yesterday he had 4 tackles(3 of which went for a loss), a sack, and 2 QB hits. He was like a hurricane out there causing havoc. Did you even realize he has 5 sacks as a backup? He was selected in the 5th round!
Record Back In Denver
What a season Matt Prater is having. There was a lot of talk that he was overpaid. Had a not so perfect season on his new rich contract and that talk had credence. He's 18-19 for FG attempts this season, the lone miss being from 50+ yards. He's also made all 65 of his extra point attempts. If it wasn't for this juggernaut of an offense, he may have had a chance at the scoring title for a season. We just score too many TDs and not enough FGs. Thanks a lot Peyton Manning. So selfish, Geez. With the temperature being so low, I was quite surprised by Matt's kickoffs. They were all going deep into the endzone. Some even went out of the endzone. This must have been a factor in his record breaking FG attempt of 64 yards. I don't know if Matt ate his Wheaties, but he was booming the ball in the Denver cold. We've all wanted and thought Matt had the leg to set the record. I just didn't think it would happen in 18 degree weather. The stars just never aligned for this opportunity....until now! The key was the quick pass to Tamme and gain 7 more yards before stopping the clock as he went out of bounds. Thank you Peyton. Without that gain, Prater is short on his attempt. 64 yards away and boom goes the dynamite. The record now belongs to the Broncos!
Little Quick Notes:
- Big shout out to the offensive line keeping Manning clean once again. They've settled in and have only given up 1 sack in the last 4 games. Would love to know how many sacks each player has given up this year because I know that one of the better young tackles in the league, Tyron Smith of Dallas, has already given up 8. Where is the sky-is-falling crowd nowadays?
- As OCD as Peyton is about being a QB, why does he have flutter on his passes? I never understood why the greatest and most studious QB never perfected his release to a point of perfect spirals every time. Why is he known for a flutter?
- It all makes sense now why I kept complaining about Wolfe this year. I constantly mentioned that he was invisible throughout the season. Now we find out that he actually had food poisoning and dropped all the way down to 275 lbs in the early part of the year. That's 20 lbs lighter than when we drafted him. He's been struggling with health issues all year. Get well young buck. You have so much potential.
- Get well soon our ailing soldiers. We'll need you. Our reserves have shown they can hold the ranks for the time being.
- Chris Harris Jr's tweet:
"Good team win , coach said eliminate Kendall Wright #eliminated #broncosup"Kendall had 2 catches for just 17 yards.
Awesome game where we were down early 21-10, but never actually worried. That's an awesome feeling to have. After giving up the first TD in just over 2 minutes, I turned to my friend(Cowboys fan) and told him they're gonna need to score at least 30. They didn't. It's truly a gift to be so comfortable being down by so much in a game. We are spoiled by Peyton's greatness. We have to win the ring this year. Anything else is a such a lost season for such a great team. It all comes down to injuries. Keep everyone safe and heal up for the playoffs. We may be a sieve on defense, but I take comfort in knowing that our starters will eventually heal up and be ready for when the games really count. Another division game is on the menu. Let's eat greedy. Go Broncos!