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.
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.
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
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-
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.
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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