In typical Colorado fashion, the sky opened up and one hour before kickoff with a virtual downpour, moved into a light sprinkle, then faded out just prior to kickoff. Perfect weather for football in the Mile High City.
Broncos - Titans
Paul Ernster kicked off for the Broncos, sailing it five-yards deep in the end zone. So far this preseason Enster has looked impressive handling kicks and may eventually earn himself a roster spot if his success continues.
The Titans opening drive started strong as quarterback Billy Volek connected on his first two passes, moving the ball eighteen yards in the process. From there however, things stalled with consecutive sacks by D.J. Williams and Demetrius Veal, forcing a Tennessee punt.
Denver found considerably more success in its initial drive as Jake Plummer and the starting unit engineered a nine play, 53-yard drive for the games opening score. The drive was sparked by a sixteen-yard completion to wide receiver David Kircus on 4th down play form the 33-yard line. Rookie Mike Bell capped the drive with a one-yard plunge, the first of his NFL career and the first for the Broncos starting unit this preseason.
Ernster nailed a 77-yard kick on his second attempt and The Titans were again forced into poor field position. After moving the ball to their own 33-yard line, Broncos safety Nick Ferguson spoiled their plans, stepping in front of Bobby Wade for the games first interception.
The change of possession gave the Broncos a short field and they quickly took advantage, as Jake Plummer hit Nate Jackson on a 35-yard roll out to put Denver up 14-0 with just over four minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The Titans finally found the scoreboard moments into the second quarter as Rob Bironas split the uprights from 41-yards out to cut the Denver lead 14-3. The field goal came on the heels of an eleven play, 55-yard drive, once again led by quarterback Billy Volek.
After two consecutive touchdown drives, Jake Plummer continued the streak, marching 80-yards to give Mike Bell his second touchdown of the evening. The Broncos used a good mix of runs and passes throughout the drive, with both Mike and Tatum Bell finding carries. Rod Smith also found action, catching two passes, one for 17-yards and the other for a 12-yard gain. The touchdown itself was a culmination of three consecutive runs by Mike Bell, trying to punch it in from the one-yard line. Three's a cham for the rookie tonight. Don't be surprised if he finds his third score of the evening before all is said and done.
Facing a 21-3 deficit the Titans turned to highly touted rookie quarterback Vince Young, who promptly came out and quickly lived up to the moniker of rookie. Looking a little like a deer in the headlights Young connected on 2 of five passes for 15-yards but the Titans turned the ball over on downs after Young's attempt to hit Courtney Roby fell short, once again give the Broncos a short field to operate.
After three consecutive scoring drives the Broncos offense took a breather, leading way for Jay Cutler and the second unit to take over, and take over they did.
Cutler came out and put down a drive of his own, seven plays, 65-yards, finishing up with a six-yard strike to his new favorite receiver, fellow rookie Tony Schefler.
With all the momentum clearly in Denver's favor, Tennessee hoped to close out the first half without any further damage, but a quick four and out almost put an end to that idea.
Cutler almost struck gold again marching the team half way downfield as the clock wound down. With seven seconds remaining Jason Elam trotted out to attempt a 51-yard field goal, which luckily for Tennessee sailed wide right – first half complete and the Denver Broncos hold a commanding 28-3 lead at the half.
Insult to injury – the Broncos continue to pile it on, taking the opening drive of the second half and marching sixty-five yards over eight plays for their fifth consecutive touchdown of the game and a commanding 35-3 lead. Cutler led the drive with four straight running plays by Damien Nash, gaining 6,6,5 and 3-yards respectively. As the Titan line focused on the gorund, Cutler once again connected with Tony Scheffler, this one for a thrity-yard gain down to the Tennessee 15-yard line. Nash again took control picking up a smooth fourteen-yards on second and ten, then followed up with a one-yard plunge into the end zone for his first career NFL score.
With Denver leading 35-3, former Colorado native LenDale White made his debut for the Titans, picking up three-yards on his first carry. His second caryy went for no gain and the offense was hit with a holding penalty, moving them even further from any possible scoring chance. From there Young melted, throwing two straight incompletions and forcing another Titan punt. To this point Young has only completed two of nine passes for a total 15-yards.
Denver's sixth possession of the game turns sloppy with two 10-yard penalties on Todd Devoe for holding and a five-yard false start penalty on Dwayne Carswell. A third offensive holding penalty, this one on guard Chris Kuper negates a possible fourth down conversion and the Titans finally stop a Denver offensive drive, taking over possession on their own 20-yard line, with just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Titans stage a bit of a comeback moving the ball towards midfield as the clock winds down to end the third quarter – Denver leads 35-3.
Believe it or not, there's a breath of life left in Tennessee, as they mount their first touchdown drive of the game, an eleven play – 80-yard drive, topped out with a thirteen-yard run by Rob Bironas. During the drive Vince Young connected with Courtney Roby for a nice 23-yard gain, then caught the Broncos off-guard with a scramble up the middle, which was fumbled – then recovered for a Titan touchdown, narrowing the gap – 35-10.
With the first and second unit done for the evening, Bradlee Van Pelt lead the third team out, running on the strength of Cedric Cobbs, who had back to back runs of 15 and 14-yards followed by three straight carries for a total 24-yards.Unfortunately an offensive holding penalty and a delay of game cost the Broncos significant field possession and they were unable to produce any points on their final drive.
In the closing minutes of the quarter the Titans looked to erase a bit of the nights' embarrassment, but were stopped short on fourth and goal from the Denver five-yard line as linebacker Cameron Vaughn dropped Quinton Ganther for a three-yard loss.
The 35-10 win improves the Broncos preseason record to 1-1 as they prepare to face Gary Kubiak and the Houston Texans next Sunday at Invesco Field.
Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past ten 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 stations around the country.
Schon can be reached at Schon@prostarmediagroup.net
Schon: Broncos Game Blog - 8/19/06
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