The O'Reilly Report

Broncos Update Contributor Dan O'Reilly discusses the teams' performance in Sunday's 31-27 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

This was a game the Denver Broncos gave away. It was theirs for the taking, and they let Kansas City take the game away. It was questionable decisions by Jake Plummer, it was a porous pass defense, it was no pass rush, it was 80+ yards for Larry Johnson in the 4th quarter, it was strange play-calling at times, it was a KC team that adjusted as the game wore on while the Broncos failed to. It was even a bit of bad officiating - but the officials didn't win or lost the game for either side.

The real problem with this game is that it means the Broncos are in a must-win situation the rest of the season in order to ensure a playoff spot. The margin for error is nil. And to do this, they have to go into Buffalo in December and win, and they have to go to San Diego and win. Somewhat incredibly, they've gone from a very positive 9-2 team to a questionable 9-3 team, and an 11-5 (or even 12-4) record may very well not get a playoff spot.

Offense: B-
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The Broncos moved the ball pretty well for most of the game, although they couldn't seem to put the time-consuming drive together when they really needed it, and their red-zone performance was very lacking. As has been the case this season, their real weakness is on third-down conversions.

Plummer had easily his worst game this season. After a long stretch of error-free ball, he gave up two easy interceptions today (and Lord only knows how KC missed a third one for a touchdown), the first of which may have cost the Broncos enough points to have won the game. I'm also wondering about the three-back rotation that's going on right now, as it sure looked as if Mike Anderson was unhappy with a number of the closeups I saw on TV. But there's also no denying that Ron Dayne, Anderson and Tatum Bell were all effective today.

Defense: D
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Too many points. To many big plays when KC needed them. To many drives kept alive by penalties of varying types. Yes, they intercepted Green a few times. But in the end, KC ate the Broncos' defense alive today. KC has a very good offense. But it wasn't THAT good.

After holding Johnson down all day, they gave him over 80 yards rushing in the fourth quarter. They gave tony Gonzales an easy touchdown when Darrent Williams allowed him to get off the line and get open without so much as laying a finger on him. We won't even mention Dante Hall so wide open for a touchdown that a wide-screen shot was necessary to see a Predominently Orange jersey in the same picture.

As for the pass rush, the best way to look at it is "what pass rush?". Kansas City quarterbak Trent Green wasn't really bothered much at all today by the pass rush. And that simply re-reveals a tendency of the Broncos defense all year: they live and die by the blitz. That MUST change, or the Broncos will (yet again) have no chance at a QB like the Colt's Peyton Manning.

Special Teams: B-
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Kicker Jason Elam's sort leg may have cost us 3 points at the end of the half (but given that it was a longish kick into a breeze on a cold day, it wasn't a gimmie). Too many long runbacks. Lousy kick coverage. Good returns by the Broncos, though.

Coaching: C
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The Broncos started with a pretty good offensive game plan. I thought the Bradlee Van Pelt running play was a master stroke (you could almost hear the KC defense thinking "what's going on HERE?"). But to stick to the run on first and goal from the seven, getting absolutely nowhere and forced to settle for a field goal, is odd play calling.

As for the defensive game plan, it would have worked better had the defensive mistakes not killed the inherent value in the plan. The other problem was, frankly, that KC adjusted to the Broncos defense in the second half, and the Broncos never seemed to make the counter-adjustment that they needed to (does that sound familiar?).



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