|3rd Down Conversions||4-15||4-13|
|Red Zone Att.||1-4||1-3|
The Denver Broncos have had one flaw all season - short yardage running. It has been a season-long struggle that reared it's ugly head again today as the Broncos lost to the hated Raiders, at home, AGAIN, 20-19. There was plenty to be annoyed with in this game - the defense against the run for much of the game as the Raiders chalked up 241 yards on the ground. How about 3rd Down Conversions? The Broncos are in the bottom half in the NFL in converting 3rd Downs. Today? 4-15. Not Good. The plain inability of the Broncos offense to score touchdowns in the Red Zone - they were 1-4 on the day, and of course, short yardage running. From 1st and Goal at the 3 in the 4th quarter, the Broncos were unable to score a touchdown, choosing instead to pass the ball 2 out of 3 times before kicking a FG.
That has been the moral of this Broncos season and because of it the Broncos are once again staring right in the face of a season lost - missing the playoffs for a 4th straight season when having it's destiny squarely in its hands.
Perhaps most frustrating is why JaMarcus Russell chooses the Broncos to give Raiders fans any hope that he might one day become a decent quarterback. Coming in for the injured Charlie Frye, Russell once again led the Raiders to a crushing defeat of the Broncos in Denver. The same Russell that was benched for, first Bruce Gradkowski, then Charlie Frye. The same Russell that is being run oout of town by his once-loyal fan-base.
So now the Broncos once again have their backs against the wall. They knew coming in to the game, after the Jets and Dolphins had both lost, that 2 wins in their final 3 games would be good enough to get the #5 seed. Now, they need both wins - in Philadelphia next week before a home game with Kansas City - just to hang on to the 6 seed. A loss in either? Well, nothing is certain then.
Mike Shanahan, and in large part, Jay Cutler, were run out of town for their inability to close late in the season. New coach, new quarterback, yet the same results in a late season disappointment at home. No time to feel sorry for ourselves, however, a tough game in Philadelphia awaits.
Congratulations to the San Diego Chargers, 2009 AFC West Champions.