365 days and this team has finally exercised their demon. The pressure of losing last season's game has fizzled away. This team could have easily cracked and played tight against the "eventual Super Bowl champion" Chargers that MSM was hyping up. Instead, they came out and played dominating football for the first 3 quarters. It was just embarrassing how in love the "experts" were with the Chargers and their corny bolos. Sorry, not on this day. Peyton and crew went to business as usual and moved on to the AFC Championship game where we run into our old dear friend, Tom Brady. This will be a tough win even though they've lost about half their squad to IR. We all know what Tommy boy is capable of. Where even a 24 point lead is not enough. The nerves are starting to boil as the days start counting down to destiny. On a side note, I think bolos look lame.
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Whatchu Talking About Willis?
Supposedly our defense was such a liability that we were going to get upset in the first round again. Especially with Peyton's terrible playoff output. The Chargers were the flavor of the month and what were the Broncos supposed to do to stop them. This defense came in disrespected and punched the bolo in the mouth, literally. The Cinderalla team from the Whale's Vagina was only capable of mustering a total of 45 yards in the first half. And this is a playoff team? They only managed 13 first downs the entire game and only 1 through the ground. The defense held the Chargers to 4-12 on third downs. And "they" asked how this defense was going to get off the field. Rivers was in panic mode all day long to the tune of 4 sacks and countless hurries. To better put it into perspective, The Chargers' 2nd and 3rd most effective receivers were RBs(1 rec by Royal doesn't make him effective so I disregarded him). And the Bronco killer, Antonio Gates, only managed 10 yards on 2 receptions. Gates has always killed the Broncos. Even when he's supposedly banged up. Not this day. Defense answered the bell and held a potent offense to just 17 points. If not for Chris Harris going down, Keenan Allen doesn't shine and this is a blowout. Allen was the only one that showed up today, but a rookie WR is not going to beat a historic Bronco team all by himself. The clock has struck 12, Cinderella. Time to go home.
Wesley Woodyard has been a leader on this team since the day he stepped on the field. He started the season off in hot fashion. Making me believe that we may already have our MLB of the future. Then we started to see Paris on the field more and more. Then we were given the excuse that we wanted to rest Wood for the playoffs. The playoffs are here and our captain is still on a rotation. Now that I think about it, did this FO really want to use Woodyard as their MLB, or were their hands forced? From the outside, it looked like they placed Wood in the middle until Paris could get caught up. Lenon is the natural MLB and is now playing in that spot. Plenty of negativity was thrown towards Paris when he first started getting reps, but it's been pretty quiet lately. When was the last time Paris blatantly blew a play? In actuality, he's been making plenty of plays around the line of scrimmage. The hate sure has died down for Lenon. Crickets out there. Nowadays, I barely even notice Woodyard on the field. And when I do, it's usually on special teams. And there's no way he's going to replace Trevathan in his natural position. At this point, as much as it pains me to say it, Woodyard can walk during free agency in my opinion.
So quick to judge are fans. When a backup player starts getting reps, apparently they expect Pro-Bowl output. Neglecting the fact that players need weeks of live bullets to get the game to slow down. Paris Lenon is a prime example. He came in and was immediately tabbed as the worst defensive player on the team and should be cut once Von returned. Now he's our weekly "starter" and has really helped in the run game.
Nate Irving "the bust" came in for a suspended Von and played well. Then he was relegated to backup and special teams after week 6. He makes a bone head play on a punt by the Chargers and he's thrown to the wolves and should be cut immediately. Now Von is gone and Irving quickly gets a sack against the Raiders. In strong fashion I might add as he rag dolled Pryor to the ground.
Which all brings me to Quentin Jammer. What a horrible day he had against his former team. He really started seeing the field in the final quarter and he just wasn't ready. A lot of blame goes to JDR for leaving him on an island, but Jammer constantly looked lost out there. Even looking around like he wasn't just trailing Allen before making a big reception for chunk yardage. Even when we forced the final FG by SD, Jammer was badly beaten by Gates to the pylon. Easy TD. Luckily there was enough pressure to force a bad pass. I'm trying to not to judge too quickly and quit on Jammer. He had a bad game. Let's leave it at that. Not like we saw him play like this all season long. If he's really the next man up, let him get first team reps. Even with all that said, I'd prefer one of the other DBs getting more reps in practice this week. I say it's time to put Kayvon back into the game. If anyone noticed late in the game, he was matched up against the red hot Allen. Rivers immediately looked to this matchup after the snap. With great technique and blanket coverage, Rivers was forced to go to through his progression and incompletion. Win Kayvon. The kid still has the ability. Time to lay some trust back into the rookie.
Bye Week Blues?
Of course the first round bye is important. I'm tired of hearing all this consistency/momentum talk. A bye week IS important. Look how healthy our team was going into this game. We were full systems go and we played like it. The defense played with a fire that championship teams show up with around playoff time. The offense was clockwork like expected. There weren't any 3 and outs like the 3 consecutive in their last meeting. The offensive line played determined football and really made this game a lot easier than the score indicated. The Chargers didn't get a single punt or kick return the entire game. Box score all zeros. I commend Gase for turning down all coaching interviews until the end of the season. Just look at Whisenhunt and his 3 interviews in the past week. Shows you who was all in for this season. Gase used that bye week to better prepare for their upcoming opponents. Whisenhunt used the week to find a new job. Less then 24 hours after the game, he was already a coach in a new city. I hear you loud and clear Gase, and I thank you.
Horses In The Stable
In my last writeup, my bold prediction was Knowshon would be our postseason MVP. He finished the day with 94 total yards and a game sealing TD. He was just awesome with the short yardage. Consistenly moving the chains on clock dwindling drives. Short yardage used to be our achilles. Not anymore. We've constantly pounded short yardage all season long. Knowshon has drastically improved in his decision making and vision. Slicing through holes that are yet to develop. Not sure if anyone picked up on it, but the game sealing first down rush by Moreno, he fell to the ground untouched by a defender. After realizing what just happened, he quickly embraced the ball with both hands and falls to the ground again. Quick thinking that a younger, inexperienced bone head player would have let go of the ball in celebration. I've seen it happen before. Quickly, things could have turned for the worse. With a solid performance, my prediction is still in play.
As good as Moreno is playing, I want to see more of Montee. He has matured through the long season and is really peaking right now. I already believe he is the better runner of the two and probably faster and quicker. I have full confidence in him now that he's gotten over his fumblitis. He's also improved in pass protection and receiving that, as much as I hate to say this, I think Moreno can walk at the end of the season. There's a lot invested in these young RBs that we selected high in the draft. Can't keep Ball in the backup role. I fully believe he's a featured back on some other team this year. Similar to, if not better, than the other starting rookie RBs. Ball had 556 yards at 4.7 ypc and 4TDs. Compared to Le'Veon Bell (860 yds 3.5 ypc 8 TD), Eddy Lacy (1148 yds 4.1 ypc 11 TD) and Gio Bernard (695 yds 4.1 ypc 5 TD). And these guys were featured backs in their systems. We were down early on Ball, but he's earned my trust back.
Bring Your A Game
First and foremost, these drops need to stop. This is the AFC Championship game. Play your best ball or go home for another calendar year. Julius pressed the snooze button for a while there in the middle of the game, even dropping a pass himself. Decker gets hit in the chest with a TD, but doesn't get his hands up to secure it. This is Manning, he'll get it in there. It's up to the WR to complete it. Welker drops a couple. One down at the 2 yard line that would have sustained a drive on 3rd and 11 at the 27 yard line of the 3rd quarter. It would have been a game sealing TD that would have broke the game wide open. It was THE perfect back shoulder throw on a covered receiver by Peyton. Hit Welker right in the chest and he had both arms around the ball. Where is the concentration? Speaking of concentration, Decker trips himself yet again. Trindon finally shuts up all the haters with a TD return then the constant screw up Bolden get's it called back. That's 3 TD returns in two playoff games for Trindon.....sure let's cut him like the Texans.
Little Quick Notes:
- Let's win the coin toss next week, shall we. Then defer to the second half.
- It was awesome to see us throwing on 3rd down late in the game. May not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but apparently a Fox is receptive.
- DRC = awesome
- Tony Carter, time to step up and make plays like last year. These are smaller receivers and shouldn't be able to muscle you like the bigger receivers you struggle against.
- To be fair, if Bolden doesn't block in the back, there's no TD for Trindon. Let's not kid ourselves.
- Is it safe to say Peyton's arm is back? He's been throwing lazers out there. His ankles appear to be fully healthy too, which is just awesome.
- Chargers fans said Melvin Ingram was good and made a huge difference to their defense. Did I miss something?
- Want to hear something funny? Chiefs believed they had a defense comparable to the 85 Bears! Hahaha as they close out the season 2-6. Best D of all time.
Living in Rhode Island, I'm stuck in enemy territory, but still represent to my fullest!
The stakes are higher in the win-or-go-home format and it makes it waaaaay more exciting....and scary. This is it. Top two teams of the AFC go head to head. There weren't any fluke plays. These were the best of the best doing what they're supposed to do to below competition. The Patriots got through Indy unscathed and as healthy as they were going into their divisional game. I don't think any player stayed down at any point. Other than Harris, we came out of the game pretty healthy too. No excuses at this point. I don't care how much they lost and how Tom doesn't have anyone to throw to. Blame your GM then. We've lost a ton of players. 2 All-Pros at that. And our coach freaking had a heart attack! We've gone through so much adversity and kept on trucking. Here we are. At the fork in the road. One road leads back to home. The other leads to NJ and Giants Stadium...Choose your path wisely. Go Broncos!