Unfinished Business: Exorcising the Demons

Jim Rogash

Hello folks! Mdierk here with your pre-Thanksgiving edition of "Unfinished Business". I will talk about the Sunday night game in Foxboro and discuss the upcoming game in Arrowhead.

Patriots- Ugh what a gut wrenching loss on Sunday night. We all know what happened. Denver gets up 24-0 at halftime thanks to some New England fumbles and a turnover on downs. In the last minute of the first half however, there was something that happened. Trindon Holliday muffed a punt which led to the Patriots having a chance to get another shot at a score. Tom Brady threw into the wind and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie dove for the ball that had no Pat near it. In the process, he hurt his shoulder and forced the Broncos to make some ill-fated adjustments. After the half, the Pats marched for a TD. With Denver's lead at 24-7, another nightmare occurred. Montee Ball caught a screen pass from Peyton Manning which led to a very costly fumble. Thanks to Denver losing its best DB, Brady had many open receivers and was not harassed nearly as much as in the first half. Manning later threw a pick that led to another short TD drive. The defense finally stopped them and forced a FG. Manning led the Broncos on a long TD drive to tie the game with a pass to Demaryius Thomas. As the game went into overtime, the Broncos and Pats moved the ball, but stalled out. With about 2:30 left in OT, the defense forced New England to punt. Because of Holliday's bobbles earlier, Denver was forced to put Wes Welker out to field punts. As the punt floated in the air, Welker was late in signaling everyone else to get away and the ball hit Tony Carter. The Pats recovered and kicked the FG to give the Broncos a killer loss. I have some thoughts on this game and what has got to happen to keep this from happening again.

Knowshon Moreno had a fantastic game with over 200 yards rushing. The OL was outstanding on run blocking and I was loving the smash-mouth approach to the game. Sadly, the play calling by Gase/Manning at times was puzzling at best. Many times on third and short scenarios, they would call a pass. Denver's receiving corps was garbage at best with a ton of drops. Most of these drops were a result of the WRs not fighting for the ball. When your outside WRs are 6'4" and over 220 lbs going against smaller DBs, there is NO EXCUSE for not fighting for the ball. If anything with the way the refs were letting the Pats receivers push off, our guys should have been able to do the same. I hate to say this, but I saw more physical WR play when Tim Tebow was throwing the ball. Maybe these guys are spoiled with Peyton throwing the ball so accurately. I'm not sure what that factor is, but there needs to be more toughness out of these guys. This loss was a waste of Moreno's effort and Jacob Tamme's clutch catches.

Defensively, they were a mixed bag with making some huge hits forcing fumbles in the first half. As far as the second half was concerned, Tom Brady had all day to find his receivers. I saw little to nothing from Shaun Phillips and he had no sacks. Special teams were craptastic with Holliday muffing a punt and bumbling a kickoff return. Britton Colquitt was OK with the exception of one very short punt. There was a bad penalty on one of Holliday's returns that put Denver's O inside the 20. Prater hit his FG and all the XPs, but because of the wind in OT, there was no chance to kick a long FG for the win. Coaching was poor at best with no adjustments when the Pats got warmed up and started chipping at the lead. Some others here at MHR have been observing that Denver is letting off the gas if they have a good lead at the half. Perhaps it's time to keep stepping on the throat when there is a lead. One day this season this team will play a complete game. Let's hope that happens before the end of the season. Denver will probably meet New England again and the weather will be just as crappy so they need to find a way to take games like this in conditions like Sunday night.

If anything this game reminded me of the 1997 season. That season, Denver was tearing up the league with Terrell Davis leading the league in rushing. That year, they went to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers. Denver had an impressive lead at halftime only to see the Steelers come back and dominate the second half. John Elway suffered many drops from his WRs that game as well. We all know the story that happened later, Denver paid back Pittsburgh that year and went on to win it all. That's all I have for this game and it's time to look at Denver's next opponent: The Kansas City Chiefs.

Chiefs- Denver heads to Kansas City to play the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium for a late afternoon battle. Sadly, Arrowhead is the "House of Horrors" with Denver losing most of the time (especially in December) . I did some research on the W/L stats and saw that Denver is 2-18 all time in December at Arrowhead. It didn't matter if the Broncos had good teams or crap teams, they just always had problems at that time of year. I also looked at Denver's record in late afternoon games at Arrowhead and found that Denver was 4-7 in late games (after 3PM CT) since 1974. The last win for the Broncos in December at Arrowhead was 2009 and the last late afternoon win there was in 1994. While that is slightly more encouraging, the records don't lie. If there is anything that is kryptonite to Denver, it's Arrowhead. This year may be different with Denver having a cure: Peyton Manning. Manning is 8-1 all time against the Chiefs and had a win last season in Kansas City. The weather may be more cooperative than Foxboro with the forecast in the mid to upper 40s with some rain possible.

The Chiefs are coming off a close loss to the Chargers. They lost both Tamba Hali and Justin Houston last game and it is not looking good that Houston will play this Sunday, but it does look like Hali will be back. Without these two, Philip Rivers had a fantastic day with almost 400 yards passing. This will be a huge advantage for the Broncos if these edge rushers are out. Arrowhead will be loud and both Chris Clark and Orlando Franklin will have to be stout with the noise. Knoshown left the locker room in crutches, but it looks like a bruised ankle and he should play. If not, we may see a lot of C.J. Anderson, maybe Ball and (gulp) Ronnie Hillman. If Hali and Houston are out, the Broncos should have more of a luxury of using their regular offense. We should hopefully see Julius Thomas back this game and Denver is going to need him if the other WRs can't man up and get as physical with the Chiefs DBs. Defensively, they need to play similar to the effort against Alex Smith in Denver. Jamaal Charles was outstanding against a poor Charger defense and Smith aired out the ball more often. The Denver D needs to sniff out the screen passes and keep Charles from going off. We will hopefully get some good news on the injuries (especially DRC) this week. The AFC West is at stake and Denver can't afford another loss. With the loss to New England, the Pats now have the tie-breaker if they and Denver finish with the same record the Pats could get homefield advantage in the playoffs.

Well, that's all I have for this week. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving, enjoy your family/friends and as always GO BRONCOS!!

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