Unfinished Business '15: Sewage and Treachery

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Hello folks, it's Raiders week and I will discuss the Viking game and take a look at the road game against Jack Del Rio's team.

Minnesota - The Vikings came into Denver with an awful lot of their fans also in attendance. I will comment on that issue later on, so on to the game! Minnesota started on offense and mustered one first down and two sacks. Denver took the ball and drove to the Viking 15, but then stalled. Brandon McManus hit his FG and Denver got the lead. On the next series, Minnesota got the offense going and got to the Broncos side of the field. They were forced to punt again thanks to T.J. Ward sacking Teddy Bridgewater and knocking them out of FG range. Denver then proceeding to do nothing on offense thanks to a holding call on Cody Latimer and Peyton Manning taking a sack. The Vikings took the ball to the Denver 20, but missed the FG. The Broncos made them pay for the miss by tossing the ball to Ronnie Hillman for a 72 yard TD run. The blocking was outstanding on that play with the seal blocks to spring Ronnie for the score.

Denver's special teams struck by pinning the Vikings on their own 5 yard line and the defense forced a 3-and-out. The offense took over at the 43 and drove to the Minnesota 17. Unfortunately Denver started to move backwards thanks to Ryan Harris' illegal formation penalty and then a sack on Manning. McManus added to the lead with another FG. Minnesota then drove 60 yards thanks to a horrible phantom holding call on Aqib Talib while Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware were sacking Bridgewater on 3rd and 7. They then got a 25 yard pass against Bradley Roby, but fortunately the defense forced a FG. Manning started the two minute offense only to get picked off by Anthony Barr with 32 seconds left in the half. Minnesota made the Broncos pay for that stupid mistake by scoring a TD in 15 seconds. Denver then knelt down for the half leading 13-10.

In the second half, Denver opened with an 80 yard TD drive thanks to a 43 yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders. They added another 15 yards thanks to a horse collar penalty at the Minnesota 7. The offense got to the 1, but couldn't punch it in on the ground. On fourth down, Manning floated a pass to Owen Daniels to give Denver a 20-10 lead. Both teams exchanged punts on the next three series. On the next series, Denver had a 4th and 1 on the 49 and they elected to punt instead of going for it. The punt was outstanding with the Vikings being pinned on their own 3. After an offsides penalty, Minnesota drove down the field with the pass. Bridgewater had a ton of time in the pocket and hit his receivers. On 3rd and 17, he hit his receiver a yard short on Denver's 48. On 4th and 1, Adrian Peterson ran right up the middle for a 48 yard TD. Denver's D gave up a huge hole and they paid for it dearly. Denver then became too generous thanks to a Manning overthrow that led to a pick. Minnesota made them pay again by hitting a short FG. Denver then responded with a long drive thanks to Sanders and Bennie Fowler snagging a catch. They did try for a TD, but the pass to Demaryius Thomas was broken up. The offense stalled out and they settled for a McManus FG to take the lead. Minnesota had a chance to tie or take the lead, but the defense rose to the challenge. T.J Ward clinched the win with the defense's seventh sack and first turnover. He hit Bridgewater, forced the fumble, and Von recovered it. Manning knelt the ball and Denver goes to 4-0 with a 23-20 win.

As for my impressions of this game, this game should have been a more lopsided win. The Broncos offense was again hit and miss. Manning did not play well overall and a lot of his passes had more loft and float than a hot air balloon during this week's Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque. This is not an offense that can just overcome a turnover like in the past. The OL did hold up reasonably well and there were flashes of a running game. I am wondering if C.J. Anderson is still not 100% though. There were many holes that he used to be able to get through and he is not getting the extra yardage. At least Hillman took up the slack with some explosive rushes. On the goal line, I do wish Juwan Thompson was able to run yesterday on the short yardage. Hillman was stoned cold twice before the 4th down TD pass to Daniels. If you noticed the playcalling was balanced, you were not alone.

The defense was overall OK, but not at its best. They were on the field a ton and it showed with the lack of pressure on Bridgewater in parts of the second half. Minnesota's WRs played out of their minds with Mike Wallace giving fits to all of the CBs. When Denver pinned the Vikings at their 3 (on a 4th an 1 punt), no one envisioned a 97 yard TD drive out of the Vikings. 99% of the time with the defense Denver has now, I would have made the decision to punt too. The Vikes made some huge plays and the defense left a gap wide open to allow Peterson's TD. Good thing is that this defense came up huge when it needed to and we can't discount that at all. Denver got the win this week, but if that kind of game happens against the Packers or Patriots*, the probability of a loss is very high. Minnesota has a decent team and I'm glad we don't have to go against them yearly.

Now for my final thought of that game. What the heck is up with all of the purple sprinkled all over the place? There were so many of them that the offense had to deal with crowd noise at home! That is just plain sad. Were there that many people that had better things to do than to watch an undefeated team on a gorgeous Colorado October Sunday? Have those ticket holders started becoming Chargers fans? I do get it, it's a free country and the NFL does not have a special visitors section like in college football. If you folks think that it was bad on Sunday, just wait until the Packers game in a few weeks. The last time Green Bay came to Denver was during the Favre love-fest in 2007 and there were tons of Packers fans that night. Let's hope the crowd will be more home team friendly for Denver's next home game on November 1. Now that I have downloaded my thoughts on the last game, it's time to take a glance at Denver's next opponent.

Oakland- Denver goes on the road again to the Black Hole (famous for its plumbing issues) to play their old rival, the Raiders. Oakland is coached by former Broncos DC Jack Del Rio (traitor) and led by Derek Carr. They come into the game at 2-2, fresh off a close road loss to the Bears. Their offense was anemic last week with a mere 243 total yards. Carr was sacked twice (the only times he took a hit) and Latavius Murray gained a mere 49 yards and lost a fumble. Defensively, they have the ageless Charles Woodson in the secondary and two good pass rushers in Mack and Aldon Smith.

For the Broncos to take this game and keep the road division win streak going is to play mistake free football. The Raiders are not an offensive juggernaut by any means. Shut down Murray on the ground and blanket their young and talented WRs. Forcing the Raiders to throw more gives the Broncos pass rush an opportunity to get Carr down on the ground. Carr is mobile like Bridgewater and is able to make all types of throws. Harass him enough and there won't be as much of a threat.

On offense, the Broncos need to get more consistent. The makeshift OL did well last week and we will see if Sambrailo is healthy enough to play. If he is ready to go, then there needs to be some support since he will be facing Mack and Smith a lot. The guards need to keep watch since Manning was sacked again last Sunday on a delayed blitz. If they can clean it up, then we can stay among the ranks of the unbeaten. That is all I have for now and GO BRONCOS!

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