As we turn the page on yet another Denver Broncos second half collapse, we are left wondering what kind of team we actually have here. Is it the one that dominates defensively and does just enough offensively to win ten games out of fourteen or do we have a team that doesn't score second half points and blows huge leads?
With the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs both emerging victorious, the Broncos could find themselves in a situation where they could actually miss the playoffs. The team needs someone to galvanize them for the playoffs and so far, I'm not seeing anyone doing that.
Let's get on with the highlights and lowlights of this debacle.
Highlight: Having all the feels at halftime. I should have stopped watching then. This Denver Broncos team is starting to feel like one that could lose not only the AFC West, but a chance to even play in the tournament in three weeks.
Lowlight: Vernon Davis is playing himself out of a job after a second straight week with critical drops with the game on the line. This time he appeared to be more worried about getting hit low than he was with securing the ball. I'd never demand a guy risk injury to make a play, but you cannot be that timid running across the middle like that as a tight end. Running across the middle is, like, your job. If you can't do your job, then get off the damn field.
Lowlight: Chris Harris Jr. If you want to be considered one of the top corners in the game you need to shut down the top receivers in the game. Brown consistently beat Harris(and Roby) all game. He finished the game 16 receptions for 189 yards. Your shutdown number one corner isn't supposed to do that. Harris entered the game without giving up a touchdown since 2013. He ended the day with 2 TDs allowed in one day.
You can't do that. I love Harris like everyone else and understand Brown is a top 3 receiver in the league, but this can't happen. In the playoffs you're going to face A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopkins, Brown, Edelman, and other great WRs. Harris needs to do better.
Lowlight: Coaching. Kubiak and Wade were brought in to take us over the hump and get us to a place where we kick and scream in the playoffs. Instead they have our team wilting in winnable games as they fail to adjust to what the opponents are doing in game. I had thought the ineptness at in-game adjustments was done with Fox, but I was wrong. Pittsburgh adjusted to the butt kicking we were giving them. We never did in the 2nd half and had a meltdown of epic proportions.
The team isn't catching the ball consistently. The line isn't blocking worth a crap in the run game. Our secondary plays press man for 2 solid quarters where it is getting beaten like a drum. There is a lot of blame to go around, but to me it mostly needs to go on the coaches. They did a completely crapped the bed on the team in the 2nd half.
Ian St. Clair
Highlight: The Broncos actually scored touchdowns in the redzone? That calls for a celebration since they haven't been able to do that all season.
Lowlight: Halftime. What happens to this team when it goes into the locker room? From now on Gary Kubiak should force Denver to stay on the sideline. The locker room is off limits to the Broncos during halftime. You want to go in there during the break? Earn it. Show up in the second half. Until you do, sit on the sideline.
Highlight: The passing game in the first half. Brock Osweiler threw four touchdowns and snuck one in himself during the first half of the game, giving the Broncos a twenty point lead at halftime. Demaryius was catching his targets, Sanders was laying out and catching beauties like we are used to seeing from him. Norwood looked like he knew what he was doing out there. It looked like the good old days, and we had a comfortable lead going into halftime.
Lowlight: The passing game in the second half. Nothing looked right in the second half, which is becoming a pattern. The Broncos don’t have an answer to other teams’ halftime adjustments and it’s becoming a problem, fast. Our receivers weren’t catching passes, our line was letting the pressure get to Brock. This is exactly where we are missing Manning; he is able to adjust to defensive changes without the help of the coaching staff, which is something Osweiler will have to learn, but time is of the essence in week 16. Heck, maybe we should just throw Manning in during the fourth quarter of every game.
Broncos at Steelers: The No Bull Review
The Denver Broncos faced the Pittsburgh Steelers sunday in a match of playoff teams. We rode THE biggest roller coaster. Let's discuss what happened, why I think it happened, and what it tells us about our team.
Highlight: Getting to watch Chris Harris, Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby match-up against Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton. Without starting safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart the no fly zone had a lot of ground to cover. Casually one would suspect that the main thing missing from a T.J. Ward-less defensive lineup would penalty yardage, but Denver matching up Talib to Bryant and Harris to Brown seemed to be an attempt to negate a size mismatch. As many times as Harris was beat by Brown, he shut him down, but Brown is one of those receivers that if you target him 18 time, he's going to catch 16 of them. Roby didn't get exposed so much as the Broncos defensive coverage did over the middle (again, thanks in large part to injuries to Ward and Stewart). What the match-up did was put the NFL's best against the NFL's best, Denver just came half suited.
Lowlight: Losing to a team that you probably had down as a loss at the beginning of the season anyway. Denver's not even supposed to be here, with a broken quarterback that went 7-2 and a misguided backup that has been able to muster 3-2. No offensive line help, receivers with some type of football catching related illness. This team is not only missing both starting tackles and their starting quarterback, they went into the game missing both safeties as well... That's 5 of the key pieces in a 22 man roster, Brock Osweiler isn't playing lights out, but he's giving the Broncos all that they could ask for in the first halves of games in the last 3 weeks and 4 weeks ago he beat the New England Patriots. To a normal fanbase that may have been the highlight of the season, to this fanbase it seems to never have happened at all. The fact is, if Denver can go 5-0 over the next month and a half that's a Super Bowl winning team and no one had Osweiler OR Manning doing that this season.
Highlight: The defensive line. They were so dominant against the run that the Steelers just didn't even try to run. The were held to 23 yard on 17 carries (1.4 ypc). Malik Jackson and Derek Wolfe also combined to put pressure on Big Ben.
Highlight: Peyton Manning not signing the terrible towels before the game and then calling "bullshit" after the game on NFL Network's report that he said he wouldn't be a backup. OK, OK, my real highlight - Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders has had an up-and-down season in terms of production and injury and last week was one of his worst games as a Bronco. A lesser player might have crumbled under pressure of playing at the stadium where he used to call home, but Sanders rose to the occasion, caught 10 passes for almost 200 yards and added a touchdown. It was great to see him have a good day in Pittsburgh. Too bad it didn't matter enough.
Lowlight: My clothing ensemble. It was a hot mess, so I'm taking the blame. Well, me along with bad offense, sluggish defense and poor coaching. I'll let those other three share some blame, I guess. But seriously, what else besides something so random as my clothes could explain a team dominating 27-13 at half and then folding like a deck of cards? Are the Steelers led by one of the best QBs in the game? Um, yeah. Was it always going to be a fight? Of course. So how did the Broncos look so caught off guard by Pittsburgh's adjustments in the second half? You know the answer ... and sadly, it isn't my clothes.
Highlight: Everything in the first half. Our offense was unstoppable and our defense was asserting their dominance. It was the perfect storm and gave all of Broncos country an enormous smile to wear, if only for an hour plus.
Lowlight: The entire second half. For as amazing as both sides of the team looked in be first half, the second was equally brutal to behold. Our unstoppable offense lost their bite, and our defense forgot how to play. That giant smile turned into a defeated look on millions of people's faces. If you can't play for 60 minutes, you won't be winning in December and January.
Lowlight #2: For the second week in a row, my lowlight goes to the coaching staff for their inability to make halftime adjustments. When a team goes from "can do no wrong" to "also rans" during the 15 minute intermission, that's in he coaches. Period.