Broncos will have to do without Brandon Stokley - Stokley's still got pain in his left knee and missed practice sessions Tuesday and Wednesday. Back in the lineup is Javon Walker who sat out last week's blowout against KC.
Other Broncos inactives include - S Nick Ferguson, who was ruled out yesterday with a knee injury, FB Mike Bell, OL Isaac Snell, DE's Paul Carrington and Larry Birdine and S Marviel Underwood.
Kickoff is less than thirty - strap it on and try not to get too toasted. Be sure and refresh your browser for all the latest madness…
They've got the roof open and the Texans are wearing their ungodly looking red uni's - there ought to be a law… the only thing that could be worse is if the Broncos were wearing the putrid orange jerseys.
Hand it to Houston - they've got a hot blonde doing the anthem - Kimberly Caldwell, American Idol finalist. Always nice to start a game off with someone that actually causes your pulse to rise… Texas definitely has its strong points.
Is it just me or does Jay Cutler look like he just blew a spleef with Snoop Dog?
Houston takes the kick - ball is brough out to the 30. Sage Rosenfeld is the man in charge - and he's moving it quick. Two quick passes and the Texans have advanced to the 40. Facemask on Dre Bly - that's not a good sign. Texans are attacking Bly - another completion and the ball rests at the Broncos 20. Rosenfelds is 4 for 4 through the air.
One quick drive and the Texans are on the board with a bootleg to the end zone.
Beautiful smack in the face by Kubiak… Broncos defense looks pathetic...
Cutler and Co. take it at the twenty - nice toss to Marshall and it's a pile drive to the turf - limps off with what looks like a shoulder issue. Selvin Young on a nice pickup. Martinez picks up a big chunck and the Broncos are near the Houston 30 - gain of seventeen.
Broncos get tagged for a false start bringing up third and fourteen - Cutler out of the shotgun - Marshall down the left side but it's broken up at the goal. Elam heads out for a 50+ field goal - it's a punt - Elam drops it inside the five. Broncos first drive comes up empty - Houston takes it deep in their own end zone with a 7-0 advantage.
Rosenfels is going through the motions but the Texans aren't picking up much - Third and six and Daniels breaks a tackle to nail the first. Abdullah blew that coverage - sixteen yard pickup by Houston. Here we go again - Rosenfels is 6 for 6 through the air and he's the backup… this isn't good…
Rosenfels takes to the air - Champ nearly gets the pick but falls to the ground and trainers take the field. Denver takes a time out - while Bailey heads to the sideline. Foxworth is in as replacement.
Houston moves it to midfield but the drive stalls and Turk sails it deep. Ball is caught in the air by Houston's special teams and downed at the seven. Maybe someone on the Broncos coaching staff could take notes on special teams play.
Cutler's moving it - Screen to Marshall moves it close to midfield as the first quarter comes to a close - Houston‘s on top 7-0.
Young dances his way to the Houston 47 - Cutler hits Marshall at the 40 for a first. Cutler out of the pocket - QB sack - Mario Williams nails him for a three yard loss. Follows it up with a short pick up to Young. Third and eight and Cutler hits Marshall for the first - ball is down at the 25. Young for nothing - Cutler to Walker moves it near the twenty, still short of the first.
Travis Henry's in the backfield - straight up the middle is good enough for the first at the 13. Cutler on the scramble - but it's ruled delay of game bringing up second and fifteen. Toss to Young is a waste. Third and 20 - Cutler to the end zone - nearly picked, Broncos dodge a bullet on that one - Elm from 41-yards out split's the uprights and Denver's on the board 7-3.
Texans return the kick 49-yards. If Denver's special teams coach Scott O'Brien isn't working at Wal-Mart next year it'll be a miracle.
Rosenfels to Johnson - wide open - moves it to the 23. Two incompletes later and Rosenfels is looking at third and ten at the 23. Ball is batted at the line of scrimmage and Kubiak elects for the field goal. Kris Brown nails it and Houston is up by seven 10-3.
Martinez takes it near the goal and returns it to the 23. Cutler to Marshall, breaks the tackle and moves it out to the 35. Back to back Cutler to Marshall and Denver moves it down field. Cutler to Walker - obvious interference but it doesn't get called. Third and twelve from the Houston 30 - deep to Marshall in the end zone busted up by Fletcher and it brings up a fourth. Elam from 47 is an automatic and Denver trails 10-6.
Houston takes the kick inside the ten and returns it to the 35 - Broncos special teams is garbage. Rosenfels moves it out past midfield but the drive stalls and Houston is force to punt - Martinez lets it bounce - hit's a Houston player and Dre Bly picks up the rebound and moves out to the 23 with 2:39 remaining.
Drive is going nowhere - Cutler almost gets pick at midfield. Houston has got it covered - third and nine - under pressure and Cutler misfires badly. Broncos are force to punt with 1:51 on the clock. Short kick - Houston will take it at the 25 leading by four.
Texans stumble and it's three and out for Kubiak - Houston takes a time out - punt to the Broncos with less than a minute left.
Bounces out at the 33 with 47 seconds left. Cutler out of the shotgun - hits Marshall for three. Scramble up the middle goes nowhere. Broncos let time run out and head to the locker room trailing 10-6.
Broncos take the kick and it's a touchback - ball moves to the twenty. Cutler to Marshall moves it for a first at the 33. Young for less than nothing - second and eleven - Cuitler to Scheffler picks up another first near midfield. Another toss to Marshall crosses midfield and it's first and ten from the 40.
,br> Cutler to Scheffler is short of the first but it moves it down inside the 35. Williams busts through with another sack - Denver's facing a fourth and seven from the 38 - toss to Young comes up short and the Texans take over at the 45.
Rosenfels is on the move - Nine play drive 66-yard drive and and former Bronco Ron Dayne walks it in for a quick seven. Houston takes a 17-6 third quarter advantage.
Broncos need to do something before this gets out of hand… kick is returned to the 30 as Cutler an Co. take the field. Henry for a few on the ground. Play fake to Scheffler moves it 30-yards to Houston's 36. Young for zilch brings up third and ten - near pick on the sideline - and Shanny goes for it on fourth. Absolutly nothing - Cutler throws it under pressure - incomplete - no idea who he's throwing to. Drive stalls - and unless something changes quick, the Broncos are watching their season go up in flames.
Rosenfels makes his first mistake - ball is deflected by John Lynch and picked off by Dre Bly - first turenover of the game and Denver has a breath of life with 2:00 left in the third.
Broncos take it at the Houston 20 - Cutler scrambles - out of bounds for a first. Quick toss to Scheffler - leaps into the end zone - ball is fumbled - initial rulijg is that it's a Denver touchdown as the crowd goes crazy. Officials rule that the ball crossed the goal propr to the fumble but Kubiak decides to challenge.
It's ruled a Broncos touchdown and Denver narrows the lead 17-13 with .36 seconds left in the third.
Houston takes it at their own 26 - Ron Dayne for one as the quarter comes to a close.
Third and three and Rosenfels lofts into zone coverage, beating Bailey and the Texans pick up a first and ten at the Broncos 38. Dayne inside the thirty for the first - sweet thirteen yard pickup. Handoff to Walker busts it down inside the ten - Broncos get flagged for another five on a facemask - moves it near the five.
Fake to Dayne and a toss to Walker gets nothing bringing up third and goal. Rosenfels to Johnson on the left side and it's an easy Houston score - 24-13 with 10:05 left in the fourth.
Martinex moves it just past the thirty - Henry for maybe a few. Henry to the opposite side - not much there. Henry is down on the field - looks like he giot his bell rung. Cutler scrambles and it's Williams for his third sack of the game. Sauerbrun's is forced to punt from the Broncos 30.
Houston takes it at the 31. Dayne busts it loose - beautiful 25-yard pickup. Walker on the ground keeps it moving - Denver's run coverage is abysmal. Sad part is the Kubiak knows it.; They're making it look easy. Rosenfels rolls to his left - fires it deep - bootleg to Andre Johnson and Champ Bailey knocks him out at the one. Kubiak's running Denver's playbook right back at them - and it's working.
Shanahan's gotta be burning inside.
Texans keep it on the ground - Leach takes it up the middle for a score. Houston busts it open 31-13 with 3:20 left on the clock.
So it comes down to this - Denver needs a miracle and Jay Cutler's behind center.
Seven plays later and the fattest lady in Texas is singing. Drive stalls out at the 47 and Denver's season comes to less than stellar close. Mathematically it's not over - but it's over - For the second consecutive season Mike Shanahan and the Denver Broncos will be looking at the playoffs in hi-def.
Talk about job security - it's anybody's guess who'll be left standing after this one.
Pupil schools the teacher - that'll sit well in the 5280.
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
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