The Broncos were the better team and proved so for the greater part of three and a half quarters. Then it happened...4th and 5, and Keenan Allen inexplicably gets behind the coverage (sound familiar) and beats Quentin Jammer for a huge 49-yard gain. Allen beats Jammer again to the corner, Chargers get the onside kick, and with about four minutes left we find ourselves in a one score game after having lead by 17.
What happened next was a season defining drive, and just like most other Peyton Manning-led playoff outings, it seemed as if we were cursed. An absolutely terrible false start followed by a 2-yard loss followed by a Demaryius Thomas drop put the Broncos at 3rd and 17.
Chargers would get the ball back and tie it up right?
Not on this day.
Manning hit Julius Thomas on an out and go up the sideline for a first down. With one absolutely beautiful catch, Julius erased a games worth of lousy play. This year as opposed to sitting on the ball and burning the clock, Fox and Co. exorcised the demons of playoff past by doing what they needed to do - staying aggressive. The four minute offense saw to it that Rivers and the Chargers would not have another opportunity to shine against a fledgling defense.
- Defense first and foremost shined through most of the game. Heading into the 4th quarter, they held the Chargers to under 60 yards rushing and 100 yards passing. Rivers and the offense got nothing going and sputtered drive after drive after drive. Not only that, but the front 3 ---yes you read that right the front 3 (and 4) were able to get consistent pressure notching 4 sacks on the game.
- The Broncos offense played clock control just like the Chargers had done weeks earlier. Both of their 1st half touchdown drives ate up a total of 12:14 off the clock.
- Manning and his receivers had no issues deciphering the Chargers coverage schemes. More importantly, Manning was patient and moved the ball methodically.
- The Broncos underrated running game, the same one that some experts thought would be a liability picked up first down after first down. Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball combined for 134 yards on 33 carries.
- Drops. Too many. From Welker on what would have set up a first and goal from the 2, to Decker in the endzone that was deflected for an INT, our receivers had a tough time holding on.
- Though the offense moved the ball in the 2nd half, it had plenty of opportunities to put the game away and failed to do so. In fact this can be said about the entire team.
- Del Rio almost gave the game away late when he insisted on playing Quentin Jammer against Keenan Allen. Jammer gave up three huge receptions. Look, Jammer is our 9th best DB seeing time because the guys behind him are so much worse. In this situation he is your #4 corner. YOU DO NOT STICK YOUR #4 CORNER ON THE #1 RECEIVER. IN WHAT UNIVERSE DOES THIS WORK JACK? GET YOUR HEAD OUTTA YOUR ASS AND QUIT WITH THE NONSENSE!!!!
- Omar Bolden's block on what would have been a Trindon Holliday kick return for a TD was terrible and unnecessary. I can't wait till the offseason when the Broncos can upgrade this clown.
- Decker. Don't know what to think of him. He makes some great plays and then has some really odd momentum changing ones. From his deflection in the endzone, his meeting with the turf monster, or his late game drop on the onside kick, he seems to be one of those guys that just has weird things happen to him.
Too many plays left out on the field. Missed points on a deflected INT in the endzone, missed interceptions, lost points on a missed FG, false starts, blown coverages, bad luck. The Broncos are so much more dominant than the Chargers that thankfully these weren't enough to blow the game for a 2nd year in a row. I can guarantee, as dominant as they can be, if they play like this against New England, the Patriots will be moving on to New Jersey. It almost makes you feel better that this game ended up as close as it did. At least now the Broncos know they have a ton to work on this week.
The Broncos read MHR
A week or so ago, I wrote a piece on Trindon Holliday in which I proposed you have someone else return punts full time while he return kickoffs. The reasoning was simple, he muffs too much to be trusted on punts, but has more time to recover if that happens on kickoffs. This would maximize his possible positive contributions while limiting his possible negative contributions.
Well, the Broncos did just that having Eric Decker return punts while Trindon returned the kickoffs. Not sure how I feel about Decker doing it, but he did a fine job today turf monsters aside.
Thank you Broncos!!!
It's like a weight has been lifted. We don't have to hear one and done, Tebow has more playoff wins than Manning, the #1 seed is doomed to fail, Broncos can't get it done garbage anymore. Thank you for going out and getting us the W. Now let's just concentrate on the next game. The Patriots are coming to town and in the balance lies a berth to Super Bowl XLVIII. Much will be made of Manning vs. Brady bagillion, but one thing is for sure: The best team will be the one that moves on.