Get ready for the fireworks (I'm rolling glass half-full) - this could get crazy….
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So far the only fireworks have been in the media buffet line – Broncos D mans up and hold the Titans to three and out while Orton and Co. pull their own three and done – let the chess match begin.
VY comes out with a little more determination – nice mix of the run and pass – Titans are moving it – down to the Broncos 17 – here comes the field goal – BLOCKED… Tatans walk away empty.
Broncos follow with a little more real estate – everybody's getting a little more comfortable on field except for Orton whose getting slammed in the backfield. Front line looks like a bunch of rookies – oh wait – they are a bunch of rookies – ball advances to the 49 for another Colquitt punt.
VY's got them moving again – steady march downfield – again it's a good mix of ground and air game – something the Broncos could learn from. Ball on the Denver 29 with Young out of the shotgun – FUMBLE – Broncos slam the door for the second time of the afternoon… What can I tell you – Broncos D is playing it tight.
Orton and Co. get one final possession as the quarter comes to a scoreless close….
Blah, Blah, Blah the boredom starts – Broncos forced to punt – Titans forced to punt – nobody's really showing anything impressive at this stage – Orton and Co. take the kick and start the drive at their own 32.
Ok – here we go – Orton finds the rhythm – Broncos are moving the ball – Royal and Buckhalter are finding the rock. Of cours some ill advised penalties on the Titans don't hurt. Broncos ball on the Tennessee 2-yard line with Orton out of the shotgun – strike to Royal and Denver lights the board. Prater splits the uprights and the Broncos lead 7-0. Excellent drive – nice confidence…
Oh Oh - Broncos D gets completely run on the Titans first play from scrimmage – Javon Ringer off left end picks up a sweet 57-yards – nice facial for Denver. Titans punt it from the Broncos 17 – three plays later VY lights it up with a quick toss to Kenny Britt. Kick is good and we're all locked at 7-7.
Evidently Denver's still reeling from the Vince Young backslap – worst possible time in the world to go three and out – but the Broncos go three and out… terrible possession.
Young keeps moving it but D is playing it strong – seven plays – tons of yardage but they hold tight when it counts. Titans drive stalls at the Broncos 35 and Orton gets another crack at it with just under five left in the half.
Here comes that Orton magic – Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royal play out huge in the drive – Orton's looking confident even while he's scrambling for his life – under pressure all day – ball advances to the Titans 27 where Prater splits it sweetly down the middle – Broncos on top 10-7 with twenty-eight seconds left in the half. Excellent clock management if the defense can just hold on a little longer.
A little longer is apparently harder than I thought – especially against Vince Young. Of course giving up 22-yards on the kick didn't help either. Young on the scramble for eight and he's out of bounds – clock stops. Incomplete to Britt and we're down to six seconds left in the half. Young to Britt on the Denver 37 – out of bounds with one tick left… OUCH – Rob Bironas has got a leg – splits it from 55-yards out and the Titans walk away with a tied game, a breath of fresh air and a crazy hometown crowd.
McDaniels decides to come out firing and Orton responds nicely – after dropping a yard to Daniel Graham he strikes twice to Gaffney and Lloyd for a first down. Back on the ground and Maroney goes backwards… is anybody blocking out there? Rushing game blows.
Out of the shotgun Orton fakes the handoff – quick toss to Royal who busts it out for 41-yards – Broncos ball on the Titans 21. Back to the running game – Maroney for a loss of four – this is almost comical. Back to the shotgun – Orton to Royal at the 17. Once more out of the shotgun and Orton throws into triple coverage – lucky it wasn't picked – flag thrown on a hold brings up 4th down. Prater to the rescue – connects from 36 and Denver's back on top 13-10 – Whew…
Did I mention that I'm really starting to dislike Special Teams? Ninety-eight yard kickoff return for the score – nothing like a little national embarrassment to make you feel good about yourself – Love to be a fly on the wall on that meeting… Amazing in a kind of a "We stink" frame of mind.
Redemption time – Demaryius Thomas busts it for 65-yards – but the drive stalls at the Titans 22. Flags fly on the Titans offsides – ball advances 5-yards and Prater keeps them in the game trailing by one 17-16.
Thinking it might be time to start drinking… Almost scared to see how this kick's gonna roll…
WOW – they only give up 30 – what an improvement… here comes Vince Young – watch out. Another nice mix of ground and air – he's picking it nice. OUCH – Hagan gets tagged for roughness and you can tack on 15 more yards to the Titans. Drive stalls at the Broncos 28 and it's a battle of the field goal – Bironas connects from 46 and the Titans increase the lead 20-16.
Broncos are looking at 3:26 left in the third and the drive starts on their own 20. Titans jump early – ball moves five and it's Buckhalter up the middle for the first. Shotgun falls incomplete to Lloyd. Down the sideline to Gaffney picks up nine – Shotgun again and on third and one Orton finds Lloyd for another nine. Back to the ground game – and it's another waste of time – no gain brings up 2nd and 10.
More flags on the Titans – move it up five and it's second and five for Denver. Incomplete to Thomas – Third and five – huge play – here comes the rush and out of the shotgun Orton gets nailed – Broncos flagged for holding…so much for this drive – Colquitt to punt with about a minute left on the clock.
Fair catch at the Titans eight - two plays later the quarter comes to a close.
Nice defensive stop for the Broncos – Titans are forced to punt and Orton will take it on the Denver 30. More flags on Tennessee – tack on another five. McD's still mixing up the play calling – Mulrony gets a few before Orton connects with the new Brandon in Denver – picks up 12-yards. Ground game gives back five of those with Buckhalter getting tagged in the backfield… (man it hurts to laugh – but I'm laughing).
Orton out of the shotgun – a big four-yards to Gaffney and the Broncos are looking at third and eleven…back to the shotgun and Orton throws a perfect strike to Michael Griffin – unfortunately Michael Griffin is the Tennessee Titans Free Safety. First pick of the day for Orton, which is amazing considering he's been running for his life all day…
Every major prop in the world for the Broncos defense – Titans fail to capitalize on the turnover and Denver takes possession on their own 30. Still rolling the shotgun – Orton hits Thomas for nine – Shotgun Part Two – deep right to Gaffney – underthrown but he makes a great recovery for a sweet 28-yard pick up. Another Titan injury – a breath of fresh air and they break it to Buckhalter for 12 and another first down. Ball advances to the 16 with a quick toss to Daniel Graham (remember him?) and it's second and five. Orton's on fire – toss to Buckhalter brings up third and one.
On the ground with Buck – no gain – no gain – no gain….. McD goes for it on fourth – crowd goes crazy – QB sneek – officials take a time out to figure the spot… they're bringing out the chains – Broncos grab it by inches…. Blessed by the gods of football – Titans challenge. Challenge the gods of football? That's a ballsy move…
Tennessee takes a facial – play stands as called – Broncos are looking at first and ten from the eleven. Orton in the corner of the end zone for Lloyd incomplete – quick toss to Buckhalter moves it to the Titans 4 – Third and three from the 4 and it falls incomplete to Lloyd – here comes fourth down – McD takes a time out to come up with something magical…. (I think I can, I think I can, I think I can)…
Out of the shotgun - Orton looks for Gaffney – INCOMPLETE – ball is turned over to the Titans – (I guess they can't I guess they can't). It's all up to the D at this stage…
Love when it gets chippy – Titans roll it back to back on the ground and pick up the first down at the 15. Champ Bailey is hurt – hobbles off the field with help from the trainers – this can't be good.
Keeping it on the ground and chewing up the clock – Broncos D traps the run for a loss – third and eleven from the 14 with just under three remaining. Young to the air – Dawkins comes in for the kill and Young throws it away – Broncos get another shot…. Brilliant defensive call by Martindale.
Broncos take it at the 49 – Orton to Lloyd on the sideline stops the clock with a first down. Back to the air – Orton to Royal – flags fly on Clady for holding negates the catch…brings up first and twenty. Titans bring the heat – loss of five on the Orton sack and we hit the 2:00 warning… (Definitely think a drink is in order here).
Out of the shotgun – near sack – Orton unloads it for Gaffney in the end zone – flags fly as the Titans get tagged for pass interference – Broncos get the auto first down at the one-yard line… Not really sure this is a good thing.
First and goal from the one – Orton on the keeper – doesn't llok like he made it. Flag on the play moves it back anyway – illegal formation is a loss of five – 2nd and goal. Orton for Gaffney in the corner comes up empty – 2nd and goal from the six and Orton heads the other way – quick toss to Buckhalter and it's a Denver Broncos touchdown… Prater tags the PAT and Denver pulls out a 23-20 lead with a buck thirty-three left on the clock…
Short kick by Prater – ball bounces – rookie Marc Mariani flames it and the Broncos recover at the the Titans 17… HUGE blow out by the rookie – that one's gonna hurt all week – I'm almost feeling sorry for the kid
Broncos killing time – clock winds down to thirty-three seconds and it's Prater for the icing – splits it down the middle and Denver pulls up by six at 26-20.
Titans get a huge return – called back for holding – VY takes it at his own 23. Incomplete – Incomplete – Delay of game – Incomplete… Game, Set, Match – the Denver Broncos pull it off on the road – McD is actually smiling on this one - nice way to bail it out - Now it's off to Baltimore.
Seriously think the caffeine is killing me…
Notes and Quotes to follow
Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past twelve-years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio and Internet stations around the country. You can follow all of Schon's updates on Twitter - Facebook or drop him an email at Michael John Schon
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