The Denver Broncos are 2-1 after losing to the Seahawks in OT, 26-20. They were down 17-3 at the half but clawed their way back to a 20-20 tie at the end of regulation. Although, let’s face it, nobody really expected the Broncos to win in Seattle, they certainly showed vim and vigor in their fight back into the game.
Ware and Miller showed up. This is the first time that the Broncos’ pass rushing duo came to play together, and let me tell you, it was impressive. They each notched 1 sack, 1 TFL and 1 QB hit. 7 total tackles for Miller and 2 for Ware. Ware had what initially appeared to be a strip sack at the goal line in the fourth quarter. The referees called it back. On the next play, Miller crashed the edge, forcing Marshawn Lynch outside, where Ware was standing his blocker up. Nate Irving and T.J. Ward cleaned up for the safety, sparking the comeback.
HC John Fox and DC Jack Del Rio
Del Rio finally got the talent to perform and finally brought a blitz on a third and long. However, you have to spy Russell Wilson. That is not optional, it’s mandatory. Wilson tore the defense apart on the last drive with his legs.
As for Fox, my beef is with personnel decisions. I love Virgil Green, and getting him involved as a blocker, receiver and runner is great. But it is important to realize that that one player is the linchpin of the Broncos’ gameplan. When he went out injured, everything that the offense tried to do fell apart. Julius Thomas and Jacob Tamme are both receiving TEs, not blockers. To only have one blocking TE on the roster and build a gameplan around that one player is foolhardy, and bad coaching. In addition, to not involve Julius Thomas in the passing game more is ridiculous – a TE caught 3 TDs against the Seahawks last week. I saw Thomas staying in to block on passing downs far too often.
WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Wes Welker
I long maintained that Sanders would have a good game against the Seahawks. His small, quick gamestyle is exactly that team’s kryptonite. But I didn’t predict the success that the two of them enjoyed. How could Emmanuel Sanders follow up his first 100-yard game? With another, more impressive one. Sanders caught 11 balls (15 targets) for 149 yards. Welker had 6 catches (9 targets) for 60 yards. Four of his six went for first downs.
The Offensive Line
The Broncos’ OL makes an appearance in the “Down” category once more. The run game went 20 carries for 36 yards, a horrific 1.8 yards per carry average. The Broncos gained exactly 1 first down from the run, and it didn’t happen until 10:31 remained in the fourth quarter. There were zero holes in the line. Seattle has a very talented defensive unit, but these struggles were ridiculous. The big boys need the bye week to figure out the run game.
Tim TebowPeyton Manning
I’m normally pretty averse to listing Manning in these pieces, because he is such a bright light. But the way he showed up on Sunday transcends tradition. No, he wasn’t perfect, with a 64.2% completion percentage and a bad interception (31/49 for 303, 2 TDs and 1 INT). But Manning took charge of the team and marched them 80 yards for the TD and 2 point conversion. Against Seattle. In Seattle.
Like it or not, Seattle undoubtedly has the most talented secondary in football. And Manning not only found the holes consistently, but spread the ball well, with 9 different players getting receptions. Kudos to Manning for the ice-cold blood running through his veins on that drive. Let’s get some of that blood and clone him.
WR Demaryius Thomas and TE Julius Thomas
I don’t know what it was, but Denver’s dynamic duo were not themselves. Demaryius was obviously nursing some kind of injury. Recall that in the Super Bowl, Demaryius put up 13 receptions for 118 yards and a score. In Sunday’s game, he didn’t even make his first catch until the end of the third quarter (1:33 on the clock). These two elite players combined for 7 catches for 48 yards on 13 targets. The Broncos have enough offensive weapons to survive without them, but it’s far easier when they perform well.
Honorable and Dishonorable Mentions
Up: S T.J. Ward
Ward is easily the most versatile player on this defense. He can play SS, FS, LB and even pass-rushing OLB. He showed great poise to get the sack of Wilson and also flashed his hard-hitting ability on several other plays.
Down: RB Montee Ball
I’m not blaming Ball for the struggles in the run game. But that fumble was inexcusable. Two hands on the ball, Montee.
That’s my thoughts for this week. The Broncos head into their bye week with a matchup against the Arizona Cardinals looming on the horizon. They definitely have improvements to make.