Ahhhh, October. The leaves are changing, the temperature falling, and the feeling of football is in the air. I woke up this morning, another beautiful, sunny day in the Mile High City, and I said to myself, "It smells like football."
Let's get down to it.
The 3-0 Washington Redskins are in town this week to do battle with our fearsome 3-1 Broncos at The Stadium Formerly Known as Mile High. There has been a lot of trash talk, crazy predictions, and worthy football-speak coming from both sides on both the Broncos Hardcore Message Board as well as the Redskins Addiction board, and I for one could not be happier about it. Two fan bases that know their team, know their players and know the game should be rewarded with an excellent showing on the gridiron this Sunday.
After predicting (correctly) the total points in last week's victory over the Jaguars, I will do so again this week. It should be a low-scoring affair, each offense banging it's head against the wall of defense that both of these teams have. According to NFL.com, the Redskins have the fifth-ranked total defense in the league, followed by – you guessed it – your Denver Broncos at number six. What does that mean? Truthfully, I don't know.
I've been amazed at how underrated both these teams are in the national spotlight; The Redskins, owners of a 3-0 record and a defense that has allowed 7, 13 and 17 points in each win, is being called by some "the worst 3-0 team in the history of the league." First, I find that logic debilitating and irrelevant, as I feel 3-0 is 3-0, the same as 0-3 is 0-3, and if they roll through the entire season unbeaten, would it even make sense to call them the worst 16-0 team in the history of the game? Of course not.
The Broncos, despite shutting down the Kansas City rushing game (less than 80 yards total from Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson) and the Jacksonville rushing attack (12 yards on the ground for Fred Taylor. TWELVE!), have not even sniffed respect in power rankings or in breakdowns of those games. Kansas City, it was said, was apparently "not as good as we thought," and Jacksonville is "clearly not ready for the big-time," after those losses. Fact is, those wins (and the three wins for Washington) belong squarely on the shoulders of two very, very underrated defenses.
I've learned another thing this week in preparation for the game - Redskins fans have a severe inferiority complex. Not winning a Super Bowl for more than a dozen years and watching as division foes (Dallas and Philly) get all the props has to be rough on a team. I've never heard so many people complain about how disrespected they are since I moved out of the Pacific Northwest. Not that it's totally unwarranted, but come on guys… lighten up. You're 3-0! Why does it matter what others think?
Once, when I was a little boy, these teams played in something called "The Super Bowl." I was amazed by the game, the pageantry (actually, I don't think I knew what "pageantry" was back then, but I digress), the teams… everything about it spoke to me. I had become a Broncos fan one season earlier; The Great John Elway led his team to win after win, into the playoffs, on a 99 yard drive in the final minutes in freezing Cleveland, then on to the Super Bowl where they lost 39-20 to a far superior New York Giants team. This year was different, I kept telling myself.
Indeed, it looked that way early in the first half, when Denver went up 10-0 to start the game, and I thought, "This is the greatest game I have ever watched." I even went so far as to go into the kitchen and say to my mother, "They're up 10-0, and I think they're going to win!" Keep in mind, I was eight years old at the time. Then I continued, "I think they play a lot better in their orange uniforms."
I left the kitchen just in time to see a long, long touchdown run by the Redskins.
The rest, as they say, is childhood trauma.
Alas, this wasn't supposed to be a history lesson. And I'm just trying your patience now.
Neither team will score in the first quarter. Second quarter, they'll trade field goals, but neither offense will get on track. Darrent Williams will break a punt return open for a touchdown, and there will not be too many men on the field. 10-3, Denver at the half. Yeehaw.
In the third quarter, Denver will give up a long run to Clinton Portis, and he will score. 10-10, as overconfident ‘Skins fans rejoice.
Denver will again be unable to move the ball. Jake Plummer will throw a pick. It will be thrown with his right hand. Washington will get great field position, but will be unable to muster anything more than a three-point try, which they'll miss. Still 10-10.
In the fourth quarter, Jake Plummer will come alive. He'll run, he'll pass, he'll hand off, and Denver will have one of its best drives of the year, somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 plays for 89 yards. Mistake-free, rock hard football, and Denver will score with five minutes or so remaining. 17-10, Denver.
Of course, as the Cowboys learned, the most dangerous time to have a small lead against Washington is in the last four minutes. But, as they say, lightning doesn't strike twice. A Mark Brunell sack will send him limping, and an ill-advised throw into double coverage will send him home. The Broncos will move the ball into field goal range and make it 20-10 Denver.
The ‘Skins will try (and fail) to get up the field. The clock will expire. The gun will sound. The Broncos will celebrate, and I'll be on my way to being drunk.
Good try, good luck, goodbye Redskins.
Sam DeWitt, or TheRealMoose as he's known on the message boards, is a sportswriter living in Denver. His columns appear regularly on BroncosUpdate.com and he can be reached via email at BUMoose@gmail.com
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