Here's the inactives for Denver – S Hamza Abdullah, RB Ryan Torain, LB Louis Green, T Erik Pears, C Tom Nalen, WR Darrell Jackson, DT Nic Clemons and DE Tim Crowder. I'd give you the list for New Orleans, but if I don't get in line soon, they'll be all out of brownies… gotta remember the important things in life. BTW - Try to stay sober enough to hit the refresh from time to time so you don't miss any of the maddness.
1st Quarter -
Broncos are breaking out the infamous orange jerseys for this one –that'll give them the edge. Saints win the toss and promptly go three and out… see, what did I tell you – ugly orange works every time. Nice return by Eddie Royal on the punt – 21-yards drops it into Saints territory. Six plays later it's Cutler to Nate Jackson in the back of the end zone. That seemed easy enough. Credit Selvin Young for busting out 19-yards in three carries during the drive. Invesco's rocking and Drew Brees is teeing it up at the 20.
Much better progress – Saints cross midfield with a nice mix of runs and passes. Nothing spectacular but it's getting the job done. Broncos pass rush is night and day from last week. Brees brings them back – 12 plays, 55-yards and Martin Gramatica splits the uprights to narrow the gap - Denver on top 7-3.
Ok – so I'm officially on the Jay Cutler bandwagon – 2 drives, 2 scores and Brandon Marshal jersey sales are bound to skyrocket. Thirty-five yard toss down the middle as Marshall hauls it in on the back line of the end zone. Uh oh, the ghost of Christmas past – play is ruled incomplete – Shanahan challenges… what do you know, the equipment actually works and shows Marshall with both feet in bounds – Broncos open it up 14-3. as the quarter comes to a close.
2nd Quarter -
I take back every bad thing I ever said about the Broncos defense – at least for right now. Nate Webster scoops up a Reggie Bush fumble and dances 34-yards into the end zone. Credit DE John Engelberger with the hit to set up the fumble. Wow - 21-3 and we're two minutes into the second quarter. Wait a minute, they just made an announcement – third-string fullback Spencer Larsen has cramps - (now where else can you get that kind of game breaking information?) I'm starting to amaze myself.
Maybe I spoke too soon – Brees catches fire and pulls off an 80-yard drive with Pierre Thomas walking it in from the five. Bush's doing a solid job on the ground but even more importantly he's got 50-yards through the air. Call it 21-10 and Cutler and Co. get another shot at it.
Ok, so it was a quick shot – JC gets picked looking for Royal and New Orleans takes it at the Denver 36. Man, this one shifted about as fast as my wife's mood swings – Brees and a short field are not a good combination if you're a Broncos fan. Five plays, 36-yards and its Bush for the score. Maybe it's my imagination, but I could have sworn they went over proper tackling techniques back in Training Camp. Maybe not… 21-17 and the city of Denver is starting to worry.
So it's make up time – Broncos offense regroups and Shanahan pulls out the ground attack. Selvin Young's got a few good moves, but it's a 29-yarder to Marshall that highlights the drive. Incomplete to Marshall and Denver settles for a quick three from Matt Prater to make it a seven point lead with just under three minutes left in the first half.
Here we go again - Brees to Shockey for 14… Brees to Henderson for 19… Brees to Shokey for 16… Brees to Bush for 1… Brees to Miller for 13… Brees to Meachem for 12… Brees to Patten for 4… and before you know it the Saints are inches from the goal line. Thank God they decide to run. Back to back calls can't move it over and the Broncos are lucky to escape. Cutler takes over on downs.
So much for luck – Shanny searches the playbook pulls out the worst possible call you could ever make when your backed up against your own end zone. Selvin Young up the middle gets racked for a safety and the Saints tack another two points on. Is there a stronger word than pathetic?
It's self implosion time – kick goes out of bounds and Brees has 23 seconds to add to the misery. I bet he passes. Brees to Moore for 17, spikes the ball and Gramatica comes on to give it a shot from 51-yards out. Remind me to never count on Gramatica from 51-yards out.. First half comes to a close and the Broncos are lucky to escape with lead.
I think I've got cramps
Third quarters are notoriously dull here at Invesco – at least in the beginning. Broncos take the kick and roll three and out. Saints take the punt and it's a carbon copy. I'm wondering if there are any hot dogs left? Maybe some aspirin…
JC's back for another try – hopefully with a little more success. Lots of dancing, but not a whole lot of success - time to catch a break. Pass interference penalty on the Saints gives Denver possession at the 28 and everyone starts to wake up. Cutler to Marshall for 12 – Andre Hall off left tackle for 14 and Michael Pittman decides he'll take it the rest of the way for a score. 12 plays, 80-yards in just under five minutes, good way to make me forget about the safety. The thing that scares me is the fact the defense is back on it's way out.
You gotta admire Drew Brees – he obviously doesn't like to waste time. The vet unloads to Meachem for a sweet 74-yarder – then follows up with a 6-yard toss to Bush and and it's a clean and simple 7 points on the board. The entire drive took 35 seconds. Great time management… Saints are within five.
Cutler to Marshall's the call of the day. The Spanish radio announcers a few seats away have got it down pat – just wish I could understand everything else they're saying. These guys are hilarious. Cutler's got them moving dink and dunk for a few, toss in a run or two and before you know it the Broncos are looking at 3rd and three from the 15. Pittman for no gain brings up fourth down and its Prater tacking on three from 34-yards out. Third quarter comes to and end...
4th Quarter -
The Saints love to make things difficult – chipping away at it with a good mix of runs and passes. These guys just don't give up – then again Denver's giving it up pretty easy. 15 plays, 76-yards and guess what – Drew Brees finds an open receiver for the score. What a shocker. Trailing by a couple the Saints line up for two at the exact spot made famous last week. Different result today – pass to Bush is IN-COM-PLETE. Another escape for the Broncos, Saints trail 34-32.
This is kind of scary… ten minutes left on the clock, Broncos up by a pair and nobody in the Broncos secondary has figured out a way to stop Drew Brees. The best solution - leave it up to Cutler and Co. to outscore them. A couple of short ones and another rifle to Marshall picks up a quick 28-yards and moves it to the Saints 30. A pair of completions to Tony Scheffler and a toss to Stokley shortens the field at the 8. Then it happens – Cutler complete to Sheffler and it's a FUMBLE? Wait a minute, aren't we supposed to get back our fumbles? Where's Hochuli when you need him? Saints take over their own 21. I'm sure I've got cramps now…
Pass to Shockey, pass to Henderson, pass to Moore (is it really that easy?) and New Orleans is halfway home to knocking off the Broncos Cinderella team. Back to back for Bush keeps it rolling and then comes the second HUGE defensive play of the game as D.J. Williams nuts it up and drops Thomas for a one-yard loss at the two-minute warning. Now you've got Nawlins facing a 4th and 2 from 25 out. They'll play it safe... here comes Gramatica… and its… it's… it's shanked wide right – UNBELIEVABLE. That's two jacks for Gramatica now. For whatever reason the Broncos are catrching more breaks than any team in the league, and believe me, we'll be hearing about all week no doubt. Time to run out the clock…
I guess killing off a buck fifty-five is harder than I thought… Broncos are forced to punt after Pittman is stopped for a four-yard loss. Saints get one last shot to play the spoiler (if you call 8-seconds and 80-yards to go a chance).
Desperation throws - IN-COM-PLETE and an IN-COM-PLETE – Game-Set-Match, the Denver Broncos advance to 3-0 for the first time since 2003, which leads me to believe that one of two things will happen next week in Kansas City. The Broncos either hit 4-0 and become a bigger media draw than Sara Palin's daughter or… they get it handed to them by the absolute worst team in the league and are forced to carpool it back to Denver just to avoid the embarrassment at the airport. Stay tuned - this ought to be a fun week…
Jay Cutler – 21/34 for 264-yards, 2 TD's and 1 INT
Brandon Marshall – 6 receptions for 155-yards, 1 TD
Nate Jackson – 1 catch, 1-yard, 1 touchdown (tossed it in just because I like him)
Drew Brees – 39/48 for 421-yards (that's not a misprint), 1 TD and a QB rating of 110.2
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