1st Half Notes -
After running it tight last week, the Broncos defense gives it up to Aaron Rogers on the game's opening drive– 8 plays, 80-yards and a 12-yard toss to Donald Driver for the score. During the drive Rogers connected on 4/5 passes for 69-yards, connecting to wide open receivers. Not a good sign for the starting unit – the team did straighten it out it toward the end of the drive, but Driver didn't have a defender with 5-yards when he caught the score... This could get ugly if Slowik doesn't pull it together.
Jay Cutler brought the Broncos back on Denver's initial possession, but had a much harder time finding the end zone, settling for a 40-yard field goal by my new best friend Matt Prater. Offense seemed a bit tentative and made some early mistakes but continued to push forward before stalling at the 22. Brandon Marshall had a sweet 22-yard pick up – his only catch of the game so far… 1st Quarter comes to a close with Green Bay holding a 7-3 lead…
After the Packers drive stalls, Cutler and Co. are forced to take over on the one-yard line thanks to a wicked 59-yard boot by Packers punter Jon Ryan. – The drive clicks - mixing in the run in very effectively. Both Selvin Young and Andre Hall break some nice ones – Cutler caps it off with a 7-yard touchdown toss to Nate Jackson… You couldn't have scripted a better drive – nice execution - great clock management – and Prater doesn't jack the PAT. Broncos roll out a 10-7 lead. Drive stats - 16 plays, 99-yards, 0-penalties…
Things heat up a bit as D.J. Williams gets tagged for pass interference giving Green Bay a 26-yard gain and a mile of momentum. Rogers moves it to the Denver 20-yard line at the two minute warning. Injury update – Elvis Dummerville heads to the locker room to have his index finger examined – probably done for the evening (not a good sign).
Pack can't push it across and Mason Crosby drops it down from 44-yards to tie it at 10-10 with a buck fifty left in the half.
While the majority of the media are scrambling for the food line, Cutler unloads it for Marshall – interference on Tramon Williams, Broncos pick up a 31-yard gain. Back again to Marshall, who does his best circus juggle on his way to the endzone – 49-yard touchdown strike is the longest completion of the season for Denver. Broncos on top 17-10.
Pack take it with less than two remaining and Rogers turns to Driver for 23-yards to the Denver 45-yard line. Green Bay manages to move it to the 26 as time winds down – back to Mason who sails it through from 44-yards out… Make it 17-13 Broncos take the lead into the locker room…
Second Half Notes -
At this stage the starters have hit the bench. Rather than spend a lot of time covering guys that are hoping to make the practice squad – lets get serious. I'm not saying preseason games are meaningless - but preseason games are meaningless.
For what it's worth, the final score came down at 27-24 in favor of the Packers. So here's where it's at as far as the Broncos are concerned…
Cutler's gonnna shine. The kid's got control of the offense and he's got the confidence needed to get it done.
"We started a little slow, we still moved the ball and I thought that the line did a great job with the running game. They kept us in it. We were struggling to complete some balls. I was able to get that big one to Brandon on the first drive, to set the field goal. We still struggled in the second series. We weren't able to make big plays. Our running game kept us in there."
Speaking of the running game – right now it's on. Andre Hall – 46-yards, Selvin Young – 42-yards and Michael Pitman – 36-yards. All three busted out with runs of at least 16-yards. It's hard to say which way the team will go, but at least it's not an area of concern (at least at this point).
Injuries are a concern - Safety Marquand Manuel, defensive end Elvis Dumervil and backup QB Patrick Ramsey each got hammered. Manuel broke his thumb on the opening play of the second half trying to make a block. Dummerville dislocated the little finger and Ramsey got his throwing arm jacked late in the fourth quarter, but it's not known how serious it is at this stage.
Brandon Marshall is… Brandon Marshall. The guy's one of the most talented receivers the Broncos have had in the last century – if he can keep it together he may get his own car dealership. Unfortunately, his maturity level rivals a doorknob and he'll be sitting out the first two games of the season thanks to more run ins with the law than I can remember at this time of night. I do have to say that his juggling touchdown catch in the second quarter was better than the first ten minutes of Cirque De Soleil.
Kicker Matt Prater isn't going to make anybody forget about Jason Elam, but he's a real descent guy in the locker room and I think he's going to be able to handle his own. When it comes down do or die, hopefully he'll pull it through. If not, he could possibly become the most disliked person in Denver. Great guy – but I'd hate to be in his shoes.
The punting game is up for grabs…. Sam Paulescu or Brett Kern - whichever way the team turns appears strong - I think everybody's just happy knowing steroids or crazy cabbies won't be involved.
All in all, the stock rose tonight. Whether it's enough to make the playoffs remain to be seen, but at least it's headed in the right direction.
What impressed me the most from tonight's game?
Female Packer fans in Denver are considerably hotter than they are in Wisconsin - and when it comes right down to it – Denver pulls off a great media buffet.
It's gonna be a great year… I think.
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