What a great night of sleep I had. A big win for the Broncos always lets me sleep like a baby. I woke up this morning refreshed, looking forward to, what esteemed contributer KoolAid so astutely pointed out, a second BYE week. And though I do subscribe to the "any given Sunday" theory, there is no way Shanahan will let this team ease up getting ready for the Raiders. Let's take one last look back at last night and revel in our huge win.
It didn't look good early on, but in the end the Broncos did win the turnover battle 3-2. Once again the Broncos defense rose to the occassion, holding the Ravens to a field goal after Tatum Bell's fumble in the 1st Quarter. The red-zone defense, #1 in the NFL coming in, flexed it's muscle again at the end of the 1st half intercepting Steve McNair's ill-fated fade route.
For about 50 minutes of this game Jake Plummer looked miserable, seemingly playing to get off the field and back into his parka as quickly as possible. Playing with a glove on his throwing hand, Plummer's accuracy, never a strength to begin with, was even worse, with several passes sailing high or behind intended and often open receivers. When it counted, however, Jake made the plays down the stretch, including a gutsy third down Quarterback sweep during the Broncos' go-ahead drive. Here's hoping we have some good weather next Sunday Night, because if anything can level a playing field it's the elements.
If the Champ Bailey interception wasn't the play of the game, it was the shank punt by the Ravens that lead to the Broncos' go-ahead drive. Todd Sauerbrun will probably be looking for work today as Paul Ernster did a great job maintaining field position. Sure, he didn't have a punt downed inside the 10, but by keeping the Ravens hovering around the 13 yard line in the 2nd half made sure that Baltimore was going to have to go 60+ yards just to get into field gaol range. The defense kept the pressure on and never let McNair get comfy in the pocket.
As I discussed, there were opportunites for some big plays that Plummer wasn't able to capitalize on, but in the end made enough to get the win.
I have to give a Guru Salute to Larry Coyer and Mike Heimerdinger. Heimerdinger was the offensive coordinator in Tennessee during McNair's glory years, and it was obvious that Heimerdinger and Coyer got together to discuss waht gives McNair trouble. The Broncos mixed up there schemes and coverage beautifully all night long, magnified on one play, when NT Gerrard Warren dropped into coverage and nearly intercepted a pass, that was picked by Dominique Foxworth. Through three games, against some teams that can put points on the board, has been dominant, and when you play in weather like was out there last night it's exactly the type of defense that needs to be played.
Make it 12 in a row at home, though the weather stunted the scoring a little more than I had picked. The Ravens team I watched the past two weeks showed up again, struggling to score, making critical mistakes at crucial times, and this time Steve McNair couldn't save them. I am excited about the win, but the Ravens were about 1 minute from being a 2-3 team so I am trying to keep it in perspective.
Time to turn the page on Week 5, and officially open the flood gates on RAIDER WEEK, baby!