Week fifteen and I've got quite possibly the worst internet connection you could imagine… I'm gonna bust an attempt at this blog – but whether or not the internet connection survives the entire game is anybody's guess. If we get stranded midway through – I'll post up the entire set of notes once we get a connection that actually works - anyway…
Here's the gameday inactives for Denver – WR Chad Jackson, S Marlon McCree, CB Champ Bailey, RB Cory Boyd, FB Andrew Pinnock, FB/LB Spencer Larsen, G Pat Murray and DE Tim Crowder.
With the Broncos all but guaranteed the AFC West crown, Eddie Royal busts out a beautiful return. Two plays later it's almost disaster but the gods of football smile again - Jay Cutler dodges a major bullet thanks to the ‘tuck rule' – Panthers bring the heat but the officials rule his arm was in motion – Happy Thanksgiving, here comes the momentum. No guts no glory, Cutler keeps it firing and moves it inside the ten. Out of the shotgun Cutler screens it to Pope – Merry Christmas - the Broncos have scored a touchdown.
They just announced that the Chargers came from behind in the last seconds and dropped KC 22-21… that's not a good sign.
It's surprising to see how easy Jake Delhomme picks apart the Broncos secondary – oh, wait a minute – no it's not… Six plays, 74-yards and we're looking at a 7-7 tie – let's see how Cutler responds to this one.
The kid doesn't look rattled – Brandon Marshall's the Man of the moment – a pair of excellent pick ups, 19 and 13-yards. Royal gets in on the act and tacks on another 13 and before you know it the Broncos have moved it down to the Panthers 22 where the drive stalls – oh no, it's Mr. Semi-Autoimatic from inside the 50-yard line – I can't watch…
Matt Prater – field goal is good…. The Denver media is stunned – Broncos regain the lead 10-7 as the clock continues to roll in the first.
It's JD and the Panthers back for an encore…busts a huge one to Muhammed for a 27-yard gain but it's all downhill from that point as the Denver "D" tightens it up to force the punt…
Panthers encore Part Two – On the first play of the drive Cutler gets picked as the ball sails through Royals hands – bobble, bobble, bobble and it's a pick by Chris Gamble. Four plays later John Kasay splits the uprights and we're tied again, 10-10, this is fun…
You knew it wouldn't take long before Carolina tightened it up – Broncos are dancing but they're not making much progress – either in the air or on the ground – Hamilton gets flagged for offensive holding – they're sliding backwards – Kern's on to punt.
School's in session and Delhomme's giving Denver's secondary a dose of reality. Ground game's having its struggles but through the air Carolina's making it look easy. 38-yards, 16-yards, whose next – Nine plays, 73-yards and Jonathan Stewart walks it in from the 2. I got a serious feeling this one's gonna be a barnburner – and Denver's got the short end of the match…
Right back at ya… Broncos move it from the 21 to the 37 where the drive stalls – or does it – the gods are smiling again… third and ten – Cutler fires incomplete but Carolina gets flagged for illegal contact and the Broncos have an automatic first down. Not that it matters – Denver gains 3-yards in 3 plays and Kern sails it to the endzone with the Panthers holding a 17-10 lead with 2:24 left in the half.
Carolina give it a shot, but can't move it past their own 40 and the punting unit takes the field - Broncos ball on their own 18. Pass to Graham comes up with a whole lot of nothing. Pitch to Selving Young with .17 sec. left spells disaster – it's a fumble – gift wrapped for Delhome and Co. One quick kneel and Kasay sets it straight from 44-yards out.
I swear to God, Shanahan's ready to bust a blood vessel as as he walks off the field trailing 20-10. This can't be good for his blood pressure…
Here comes the avalanche… Panthers take the second half kick and procede to continue where they left off – four plays, 80-yards and DeAngelo Williams breaks out the package punch – stopped at the line of scrimmage William reverses and heads up the middle 56-yards untouched. This is getting ugly… Panthers open it up 27-10.
Ok, here's where they get it together… maybe. Cutler's first pass is an inch away from getting picked – probably about the fourth near-pick today. Bell on the groung picks up well…maybe two and third down finds Marshall about two-yards short – so much for controlling your own destiny – at this rate it ain't happening today…
Panthers start their drive on their own 33 – Broncos move it to a 4-deep zone – and believe it or not it works - mainly because Delhomme either overthrew or the receivers simply couldn't hang on. It's back in the Broncos court but nobody's holding their breath. I wonder if there's anything left at the buffet table?
Three and out… what can I say?
Delhomme's on the move – crosses into Broncos territory – ball is tipped and Josh Barrett comes up with the pick – if there's ever a time you got to pull it together – it's now. We've got just over five minutes left in the third and Denver's starting to move.
Pope up the middle picks up nine – tack on another four. Cutler to Royal for 12 and the march continues. Four plays later and Shanny decides to gamble on Mr. Semi-Automatic from 47. KICK IS WIDE RIGHT - this dude simply can't hit anything short of fifty. Atr least he'll have some time to work on his resume on the flight home – it's been nice knowing you…
Panthers are holding it tight at third and nine as the quarter comes to a close...
Broncos are obviously in a very giving mood – Delhomme engineers a nice nine play, 39-yard drive and John Kasay, a field goal kicker who actually knows how to kick field goals tacks on another three… 30-10 Panthers on top – there's no way these guys are climbing out of this one - just don't prolong the misery. Denver fields the kick.
Three and out…Welcome to the real world. Playoffs, Playoffs?
Ever seem to notice hw time moves so slow when you're bleeding internally?
I personally want to thank Carolina for chewing up nearly six minutes off the clock without running up the score. Not that I'll be adding you guys to my Christmas list, but it was nice to be able to catch a quick smoke break without having to cover anything real exciting.
Tick, tick, tick...zzzzzz... will this ever end?
One win and the Broncos clinch the AFC Worst - instead they travel half way across the country just to pull up lame. After the way Buffalo played against the Jets, it won't surprise me to see it all boil down to a grand finale in So. Cal - in which case the Broncos are probably jacked.
I think I need a drink...
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