This was a game the Broncos should have won easily, but I think they had more problems than they were expecting. Yet again, the "breakout game" didn't happen. The offense showed more signs of life than they have lately, but again it was the defense that kept the Broncos in the "W" column. That MUST change next week. 17 points almost certainly won't be enough against a Colts team that seems to be peaking offensively.
Plummer has by far his best game of the year, but his two INT's were very
worrisome, since they were pretty poor decisions and throws. He was also
lucky that two other sure INT's were dropped by the Cleveland DB's. But
still, he did show signs of confidence that I think have very rarely seen
this year, and this performance can only help him for the future.
The running game looked good, but I think the absence of Kyle Johnson was
felt more than they were expecting, both in run blocking and in blitz
pickups. Tatum Bell is still making his statement to the rest of the
league, and will give future opponents more to think about.
The offensive line was, sometimes, offensive. They let Cleveland get pass
rushers into the backfield way too often. Here's where a healthy Lepsis is
mandatory next week. Once he went out, the Cleveland rushers pretty much
ran roughshod over Pears.
You can't keep 'em out of the end zone every week! As usual, another very
good performance for the defense. I've not kept count, but it seems like
Al Wilson must have around 500 tackles so far this season. He's really
been the heart and soul of this defense this year.
The DB's did another great job. Yet again, a young quarterback chose to
challenge Champ Bailey, and Champ made him pay for it. Darrent Williams
played a bit more loose this game than I think he typically does, and he's
going to have to tone that down a bit next week against Indy.
As for the defensive line, it's essential that Warren play next week. You
could see the dropoff on the pass rush and run defense when he went
out. Elvis Dumervil continues to impress. I think the first few games on
the bench gave him a hunger for playing that's translating to him making a
real impact when he's on the field. Overall, the pass rush was adequate
for a QB like Frye, but they're going to have to step it up against
Manning. With the receivers Indy has, Denver could get burned by blitzing.
Special Teams: C+
The wind played havoc with Elam, so I'll give him a pass on the missed
field goal. However, I thought this was the first game where Ernstner
looked like a rookie on the field. It seemed he had a fair amount of
difficulty dealing with the windy conditions on his punts. Morgan made a
horrible decision on his first kickoff runback, and I suspect he's going to
hear more on that in the team meetings this week.
I thought Shanahan really crossed Cleveland up by throwing so much in the
first half. I suspect Cleveland was more prepared for run, run, run, and
they didn't get it.
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