The upside to all the madness is the fact Tim Tebow will be making his first official start at quarterback in the NFL – and weighing in the factor that it's almost impossible for the Broncos to slide any further down the food chain, there's light at the end of the tunnel.
That's more than I can say for my picks….
Here's the inactives for Denver – Matt Prater, Kyle Orton, Brian Dawkins, Laurence Maroney, Cassius Vaughn, Eric Olsen, Demaryius Thomas and David Velkune are all relegated to clipboard duty…
Less than 15:00 away from kickoff, caffeine's beginning to settle in and as a standby I've got a case of Coors Light hanging close – expecting that kind of day – let's get it started…
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The excitement is almost overwhelming – the results, not so much, at least on the Broncos side. In his highly celebrated debut Tebow busts out two uninspiring runs and an incomplete toss to Brandon Lloyd – but we're not discouraged just yet…
Second Denver drive produces more of the same but it's the defensive side that produces the bailout - interception at the line by Kevin Vickerson – excellent field position if the Broncos can take advantage.
Four-plays later it's a reality – Tebow takes the snap out of the shotgun and takes it in from 40-yards out to lock it at 7-7 – expect that one to get some play on the highlight reel… told you not to worry.
Raiders set to start it from their own 24 – McFadden moves the chains and Campbell keeps it on the ground – D stop number two – McFad coughs it up and the Broncos grab more life on the Raiders 32-yard line… this is getting interesting.
Tebow on the ground with Moreno – backfires and it's a loss of one – time for another highlight – under center Tebow drops and fires it deep to Lloyd between two defenders in the end zone – (impossible) catch is made but ruled out – Studesville throws the challenge and minutes later the Broncos find themselves with back to back scoring drives… this kid Tebow looks pretty good – I'm officially giving Kyle Orton permission to worry.
Took nearly two minutes to catch my breath on that one… meanwhile the Raiders go about business as usual, grinding it out behind McFadden – Eight plays, sixy-nine yards and Michael Bush does his best to spoil the party from the one – Raiders with the tie 14-14 and I'm beginning to smell a rivalry.
Eric Decker (always an afterthought in McDoogie's game plan) is is slamming it on kicks over the past two weeks. Drive starts at the 30 with Denver's new Messiah pushing the envelope – nice mix of ground and air game – Tebow and Co. roll it to the Raiders 24 to close out the first… even the media looks stunned.
Broncos drive hits the wall but the position is there – Hauschka (Prater's current stand-in) splits it straight and the Broncos regain the lead and momentum 17-14. Kind of makes you wonder how different the season would be at this point if McBumble hadn't jacked it up?
Win the battle of turnovers and you're half way home… Broncos D comes through again – Renaldo Hill picks Campbell and the crowd looks ready to boil – Broncos take possession at midfield.
Raiders D locks it tight – two runs and an incomplete fail to move the chains – time to breathe… Colquitt sends it about 5-yards too far and Oakland takes the touchback at the twenty.
Drive finds the better side of the 35 but the Raiders are forced to punt – Syd'Quan Thompson on the return - survives a near decapitation and dances it out 24-yards in style – unfortunately it's all coming back. Illegal block to the back on Woodyard seals it and Tebow will take it on the 15.
Despite the reservations, despite the throwing motion – Tebow is the best thing to happen to Denver since alcohol sales on Sunday. The excitement alone is immeasurable…
Downpour opens up – drive stalls at short of midfield and it's back to Colquitt – 49-yards to the Oakland eight – just under four remaining in the half.
Weather is definitely a factor – Raiders roll three and out and the Broncos look for another short field – but it's not going to happen. Thompson muffs the punts and Campbell and Co. will get another shot at stardom, this time from their own 46.
Twenty-three yards later and it's Janikowski with his fifteen seconds of fame – splits it from 49 and the Raiders have tied it up at 17 with just enough time to get a head start on the beer lines.
What more could you ask for?
Raiders take the second half kick and look to grab some of the excitement Denver generated – Campbell and Co. move the chains and near midfield before the Broncos tighten the grip. Illegal hands to the face drops them back even further – Boos start to cascade from the rafters. Raiders are facing third and twenty-two just past the 40 – complete but wickedly short - Thompson on a short leash watches the flags fly as the punt bounces out of bounds – holding on Denver moves it inside the five… this is not pleasant.
No go – three consecutive runs pull up a grand total of five yards – Colquitt from the back line of the end zone sails it 56-yards. Take 15 off of that for a brutal facemask penalty and the Raiders are sitting pretty on the Broncos 24.
Still not worried… now that my new best friend Tim Tebow is in the fold anything is possible. Pretty sure…
Broncos D limits it to three – Janikowski and his spare tire nail the chip shot from 35 and Oakland regains the lead 20-17 - back to Tebow Time.
Dude is on the money – 24-yards on a pass interference to Lloyd, 19-yards to Lloyd and the chains keep moving. Then it opens up – perfect strike to Lance Ball in the end zone – unfortunately it hits him right in the hands, which evidentially he wasn't expecting – ball falls incomplete. Drive is saved by the New Kid on the Block who patches it in from 35 – Denver ties it at 20 with just over nine remaining in the third.
Generally I hate third quarters – this might be the exception. Campbell and Co. are playing it like they've actually got a shot at the playoffs… Playoffs? Playoffs? Drive stalls at the Broncos 29 and the tire's back out to try and break the tie – case closed – straight down the middle and Oakland lights the scoreboard 23-20.
Didn't know you could have this much fun sober… back to Tebow Time.
Quarter comes to a close with Denver facing third and six from their own forty, thanks to another false start on the O line… Tebow can't cure EVERYTHING I guess.
Needless to say – the drive stalls out and it's another change of possession. Change doesn't last long – Raiders take advantage of the fact Denver forgets how to tackle. Campbell connects with Marcel Reece, who dances untouched 73-yards to paydirt. Embarrassingly sloppy coverage for Denver – no excuses.
Raiders open up a 30-20 lead.
They're opening up the playbook – Tebow rocks it to Gaffney for a 32-yard pick up then follows with Lance Ball on third and two for the first – chains move – Tebow's pumped and overthrows Lloyd in the end zone. QB draw out of the shotgun comes up short and it's Hauschka to the rescue – buries it from 45 and we've got a seven point game 30-23 with 10:04 left on the clock.
When the tough get going – the defense blows. Amazing number of missed tackles – McFadden picks up an easy twenty virtually untouched. Oakland drive finally stalls out on the Broncos 40 and Raiders elect to punt. Lechler on a beauty – ball is downed inside the Denver 10 – you guys ready for some football?
The Raiders are – Broncos game plan comes up about as stale as Carrot Top's act – loss of four on a first down run up the middle – back up the middle for a loss of two and that's what they call a SAFETY… Broncos give up two points and also lose possession. Kick sails 69-yards but they pull fifteen off of that thanks to a roughing penalty on Nate Jones along the sideline – Raiders drive will start at the Denver 47.
This might be a good time to start worrying.
Raiders take full advantage – Eight plays, 47-yards and it's Michael Bush up the middle from the one to seal the deal. Oakland closes it 39-23.
This one hurts – but at least it opens up the option of keeping Tebow under center for the final two games. Interesting to see which way Studesville and Bowlen will roll on this one – but honestly, does it matter?
Unless they're ready to bust out the playbook and let the kid throw – it's all a waste of time anyway…
Welcome to 3-11 Broncos fans… Anyone want a drink?
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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