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2007 Best and Worst Broncos' Moments #13

Moment #13 -- One of the Best

-- Marshall turns back the tide.

When Devin Hester tied the CHI game with his first return for a TD, it was up to the Broncos to find an answer, and try to re-establish momentum.

Cutler turned to his budding playmaker and on the first play from scrimmage following the return, he found BMarsh on a 68 yd that netted a quick 7 points and put the Broncos back in the lead.

The play showed just what Denver had in two of its young players: guys who could step up when the going got tough. Sometimes the best way to answer a playmaker like Hester is to show that you have a playmaker of your own, and Brandon showed exactly that. It is a combination of dependability and pure ability, and it amazes me sometimes how Brandon can exhibit it so clearly on the field but somehow shortcircuit and fail to apply the same skill off the field. Maybe he just doesn't take matters off the field as seriously as he takes his job. He wouldn't be the first, not would he be the last to lose his job because of an attitude like that.

But its moments like the CHI game when it becomes clear that whatever it is that this kid needs to do, he can do it. That is going to make for some exciting Sundays for Broncomaniacs for some time to come.

Is the big play threat alive and well?

The question really has two aspects, is Brandon Marshall a legitimate big play threat and is he the only one if he is?

While Marshall has not "officially" faced the top coverage of opposing defenses, a strong case can be made for the fact that it was rare for us to see him working in an offensive environment where other players were taking a lot of the pressure off of him. Stokely was the one player who consistently drew his share of the coverage, while Graham was relegated to a blocking status and Scheffler never really came on until the the first third of the season was over. Walker was nowhere to be seen starting with the PIT game, and our platooning RB squad could barely muster a combined 100yds in most games, and in pretty much all of their late season efforts.

It can definitely be argued that Marshall has been fire tested by NFL defenses, and the results are very promising, even if the case for other playmakers turns out to be that they are scarce. Stokely should certainly be considered a playmaker, but only as a slot, where he is a factor of 10 times more effective. Scheffler is ceratinly a playmaker, but his foot troubles are bothersome. Graham will have to wait and see if he is needed on the line before one can definitively speak for his playmaking ability, and our RB corp, while solid in the running game, may not prove to be the all around threats needed to take some of the pressure off of BMarsh.

And with extra pressure, will Brandon Marshall be able to keep up this impressive growth that has seen him catapult into star status before us? If that ear to ear grin doesn't disappear anytime soon, I would say yes.