Ben Hamilton, who's sitting this one out with back spasms, just found his way to the Press Room and immediately headed for the buffet… this could get dangerous.
Roster's get trimmed to 53-players this weekend – so this is the big one… as far as I can tell the starters will probably get quite a few reps and TB will probably play at least three quarters with newbie Ingle Martin picking up a little time in the fourth.
Kickoff is less than thirty and I'm hoping Hamilton left some crumbs… time to grab a cold one and get ready to shake it up…
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Slim crowd – but it's the preseason and the Broncos haven't won a game yet under the Josh McDaniels regime. We should see some Leinart tonight and who couldn't be excited about that – here's a stat for ya – Broncos and Cardinals have now played six consecutive years facing each other in the final game of the preseason…
Brandstater's bustin it out – third and seven and the kid hits Chad Jackson on a huge 43-yard pick up. A couple of Buckhalter runs moves it down to the 8 but they can't push it through – Prater saves the drive with a 26-yarder and Broncos go on top 3-0 – 8plays, 67-yards and TB's handling the pressure…
Larry Fitzgerald's a ROCK – Warner connects up with a nice 36-yard completion and the Cardinals have moved it to midfield…
It's funny – Kyle Orton can't catch a break – NFL.com Game Center has him 0/1 on completions tonight and he's sitting about 4 rows away from me in the press box…. Brandstater isn't even listed… way to stay on top of it.
Cards drive stalls at the 47 – Defense doesn't look half bad – but AZ shot themselves in the foot with penalties – Broncos take the kick and possession on their own 7.
Now that Denver's on their second drive of the game, NFL.com gets their act together and actually lists Brandstater as the quarterback… not that it helps too much, Broncos can't get past the 16 and it's Kern for the punt – 58-yards with a 7-yard return.
Big improvement with the "D" at this stage – they're cutting off the corners, had one pass deflection and forced Warner to throw early on third and 13 – three and out and back to Denver.
It's the Darrius Walker Show now – several nice pick ups – 3 carries for 24-yards on this drive alone. TB goes deep to Brandon Lloyd – it's a jump ball and Lloyd hauls it in at the 1 – 32-yard pick up. And it's, guess who, Walker on the ground for the score – Broncos pull out with an early 10-0 lead with the clock a step away from the two-minute warning.
Oh oh… Warner gets picked by Darrell Reid and the Broncos force their first turnover of the preseason…things are starting to look up – at least temporarily. Quarter comes to a close with the Broncos holding first and ten at the Cardinals 27.
Fabulous field position but the Broncos fail to grab the seven – Prater settles for a quick 3 from the 37 and Denver extends their lead 13-0. AZ counter attacks – here comes Leinart… First play – QB sack, 2nd play a near pick, 3rd play short toss shy of the first down – Cards are forced to punt…that was fast – Broncos start the drive on their own 27.
You gotta love Walker – 11-yard reception for another Denver first down. The kid's defiantly turning some heads. TB's stretching the field and I'll tell you right now there's going to be a lot of fans calling for Brandstater over Orton when it comes to opening day.
Dink and dunk is working and they're making it look easy – Marquez Branson gets in the mix with 2 nice receptions moving it near the Cardinals 20. Kenny MmcKinley may be the first casualty of the roster cuts – drop a sure touchdown in the end zone – it was like a scene out of Dead Man Walking as he made his way back to the sidelines. Prater back in the spotlight nails it from the 35 and the Broncos extend the lead 16-0.
Crowd comes alive now…Matt Lienart implodes – this guy's about 2 days away from unemployment – David Bruton with the pick and there's a heartbeat in the 5280. It's hard to get too excited during the preseason, but the Broncos have improved dramatically since the opener against Seattle.
Defense is creating turnovers, offense is moving the ball and the play calling is nowhere near as stale as past games. Keeping in mind it doesn't really mean a thing in the real world – but at least there's a breath of life – and it may be the only thing Bronco fans can hold onto until Cincy. First half closes out with a wicked chest bump on an official by Cards G/T Elton Brown – that'll make Sportscenter – Brown gets ejected as Denver walks off with the lead.
Here's where it gets exciting – and sloppy. You've got a ton of guys, who nobody's ever heard of – doing everything they can to bash someone's skull in and get noticed. At this stage I'm pretty sure McDaniels has his mind made up on who's getting their walking papers – and that's in itself is a little scary. Totally caught me off guard when he dumped Nate Jackson so early and Jeb Putzier came out of left field – so I'm sure there's gonna be a few shockers when this one's all said and done.
Midway through the quarter Prater nails his fourth field goal and its 19-0 Brandstater's crew. Didn't really even see much of the drive – was too busy fighting for the last cookie in the media room. Once I stop the bleeding, I'll be fine.
Not sure they have any Brandstater jerseys available – but this guy could be the next Birdman…too bad he didn't keep the whacked out hair job from camp – I gotta find a way to market this guy…
Whoever's running the jumbotron has got a great eye – just tossed up what looked like an entire section of Hooters wannabe's… I love Denver.
Broncos "D" tightens up and Cards QB Tyler Palko (?) nearly gets sacked by Broncos DL Everette Pedescleaux (?). Chance are you'll hear those names again in the next few days – it's a rough business… Quarter comes to a close with Denver maintaining a 19-0 lead (I'm actually posting this early so I can try and burn one before the fourth starts…).
Ladies and Gentlemen, QB Ingle Martin takes the stage… for those of you without a program, Martin was picked up when Chris Simms went down with a high-ankle sprain, or as the Broncos would describe it – lower extremity injury. Chances are he'll be filling out a resume shortly.
Pretty much garbage time at this point – huge debate on the status of Jarvis Moss – should he stay or should he go… the go's seem to have it in the press box.
Clock continues to wind down and I'm headed to the locker room to capture all the magic of the moment… Time to savor it Broncos fans – this may be the only win in the month of September… Post game quotes and notes to follow
Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past twelve-years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio and Internet stations around the country. You can follow all of Schon's updates on Twitter or drop him an email at Michael John Schon
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