When you look at the head-to-head record of the Broncos against the Cardinals, you’ll see that with just one exception, Denver has owned the Arizona/St. Louis/Chicago team known for wearing red. That one loss? You can credit it to the tragic season of 2010, but not to often vilified clown, Josh McDaniels.
Although, McDaniels started 2010 as head coach, just 6 days before the match-up at University of Phoenix stadium the Broncos deactivated his keycard and took away his headset.
Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen has relieved Josh McDaniels of his head coaching duties. Details to follow on DenverBroncos.com. #fb— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 6, 2010
With McDaniels gone and Kyle Orton inexplicably ensconced as the starter of the 3-10 Denver Broncos, head coaching duties were handed to running backs coach, Eric Studesville. Tim Tebow was still marinating on the bench and the rushing attack was anchored by Lance Ball and Knowshon Moreno.
The 4-9 Arizona Cardinals weren’t having the greatest season themselves. This late-season game would be the first career start for their 3rd string quarterback, John Skelton. For all intents and purposes, this was one the Denver Broncos should have won. Instead, this one would go down as the first time in history the Cardinals beat the Denver Broncos.
The Broncos took an early lead with a Steven Hauschka field goal (kicker Matt Prater didn’t play and would be placed on IR in the following weeks due to a nagging groin injury). Arizona answered with a Jay Feely field goal... but ol’ Jay was just getting warmed up.
This is a game that I’m sure Feeley will never forget, because on this December day in Arizona, he would single-handedly beat the Denver Broncos. On a chip shot field goal attempt, Feely faked and ran 5-yards for the only touchdown of his career. He also kicked the extra point just moments later. It would be three more Jay Feely field goals before Denver could impotently respond with another Hauschka field goal.
With just over 6:00 left in the 4th quarter and down 22-6, Cardinals running back Tim Hightower finally scored the game’s first offensive touchdown. After an exhausting day of getting their butt handed to them by a kicker, the Broncos got into the end zone on 1-yard Knowshon Moreno plunge.
Time was running down and the Cardinals already had the game in-hand, but the juggernaut that was the 2010 Arizona Cardinals would not be stopped! Tim Hightower ripped off a 35-yard touchdown run with 3:00 to go in the 4th. Then, typical of the 2010 Denver Broncos, they couldn’t get out of their own way and just take the loss they had earned. To really demonstrate just how awful the team was, a Kyle Orton pass intended for Lance Ball was intercepted and returned 39-yards before being knocked loose by Ball, only to have Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett recover and carry it the rest of the way for Arizona’s final touchdown (Jay Feely kicked the extra point). Final score, 43-13, Cardinals.
This was the only time in Broncos history Denver has lost to the Cardinals. Denver scored 13-points and Cardinals kicker Jay Feely scored 22. Receivers Eric Decker and Eddie Royal fumbled, but the truly remarkable bit of trivia that came out of this game was Kyle Orton’s stat line. He threw 3 interceptions, was 19 of 41 attempts for just 166-yards, and lost a fumble.
While I want to say that Thursday’s game against the Cardinals could never be as bad as that game back in 2010, I’m not convinced. There are too many parallels to ignore. Like Studesville, Vance Joseph won’t be retained in a head coaching capacity next year. Case Keenum, I would argue, is better than Orton, but their ability to score points and take command of a game are crushingly similar. Both the Cardinals and Broncos are reeling. Like the 2010 match-up, the Broncos should win with one, but they also should have beaten the Jets. There is a real chance that Denver could go out and allow the Cardinals to double their win total against the Broncos. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen.