Broncos Report Card vs. Houston

Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan took blame for maybe working the players too hard in the short week, and admitted he was outcoached by his longtime assistant, Gary Kubiak.

REPORT CARD VS. TEXANS

PASSING OFFENSE: B -- Considering the Broncos had no running game to speak of, Jay Cutler did the best he could. He was sacked five times, but stood in when he had to drop back almost every play. He had 254 yards and his touchdown pass to tight end Tony Scheffler kept the Broncos in the game in the third quarter. Cutler didn't throw an interception but the Texans dropped a few chances.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D-minus -- The Texans took away the Broncos' running game early by putting extra defenders in the box. Then, without tight end Daniel Graham, the Broncos pretty much gave up the running game. Travis Henry got more playing time, even though he still seemed limited because of a knee injury, and had 27 yards on 10 carries. Selvin Young had 34 yards on eight carries, and 20 of his yards came on one carry.

PASS DEFENSE: C-minus -- Texans backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels had a solid day, passing for 200 yards. The Broncos seemed confused by Houston's bootleg plays, even though that is a staple of Denver's offense. Denver didn't sack Rosenfels once, which was another reason they gave up some big plays.

RUSH DEFENSE: F -- Houston had Darius Walker, a rookie, and Ron Dayne, who didn't figure to play because of an ankle injury. And yet, the Texans gained 158 yards. Walker averaged 5.1 yards per carry. Dayne didn't even play the first half because of his injury, but came in and gained 67 yards while averaging 6.1 yards per carry. The Broncos' rush defense has been bad most of the season, and the Texans loss was merely the latest episode.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Andre Davis had a 50-yard kickoff return against Denver, which set up a field goal. That was on the only noteworthy play on special teams from either side. The Broncos did a fair job covering kicks other than Davis' long return, but couldn't produce any big plays themselves on special teams.

COACHING: D -- The Broncos had a short week, but it should have been a plus that they knew the Texans' offense so well. After all, Gary Kubiak was Denver's offensive coordinator for 11 years. But the Broncos were helpless against some of the same plays they see in practice every day, while the Texans seemed to know how to slow down Denver's offense. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan took blame for maybe working the players too hard in the short week, and admitted he was outcoached by his longtime assistant.



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