Broncos Report Card vs. Minnesota

The Denver Broncos deserve credit for playing hard with nothing on the line, against a Vikings team that was still in the playoff race.

REPORT CARD VS. VIKINGS

PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Broncos second-year players Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler had big games. Marshall and Scheffler combined for 17 catches and two touchdowns from Cutler, who was sharp the entire game. The Broncos knew they wouldn't run much against Minnesota's strong front seven, so they let Cutler carry the offense. He finished his first full season as a starter on a positive note, recording his 20th touchdown.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Considering how good the Vikings were against the run this season, an 87-yard day by Broncos back Selvin Young wasn't bad. Young used his quickness well, getting outside and out of the teeth of the Minnesota defense. Travis Henry, Denver's starter to begin the season, didn't get a carry.

PASS DEFENSE: C -- For three quarters, the Broncos' pass defense held Tarvaris Jackson under 100 yards passing. Then in the final half of the fourth quarter, Jackson was brilliant. He marched the Vikings to two touchdowns and two two-point conversions to tie the game. That summed up Denver's season, looking solid for a while but not being able to maintain any consistency.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Chester Taylor had a solid game but the Broncos did well against dangerous rookie Adrian Peterson. Peterson had only 36 yards on 11 carries. The Vikings have a very good running game and the Broncos haven't stopped the run well this season, but most of Minnesota's rushing yards came in the first quarter.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- The Broncos got another game-winning field goal from Jason Elam. Elam hit four field goals on the final play of the game, the most in the NFL since 1990. New punter Sam Paulescu had a tough assignment kicking in windy conditions two days after being signed but performed decently, averaging 44.2 yards per attempt. Denver didn't give up much in the return game, but didn't get much either.

COACHING: B -- The Broncos deserve credit for playing hard with nothing on the line, against a Vikings team that was still in the playoff race. The season hasn't been easy but the team ended with a win, after two poor performances on the road. The Broncos hope to get back in the AFC West race next season.



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