Broncos Update Insider - 11/10/09

The Broncos, who were riding high at 6-0, are all of a sudden only one game ahead of the surging Chargers in the AFC West.

The Broncos, who were riding high at 6-0, are all of a sudden only one game ahead of the surging Chargers in the AFC West.

Denver has lost two games in a row, and the way it has lost has been a bit surprising. The Ravens and Steelers both pushed the Broncos around in the second halves of their games. The Steelers gained 321 yards after halftime in a 28-10 win.

"They made some really good adjustments, and we didn't have an answer," linebacker Andra Davis said. "We didn't execute what we were supposed to do."

The Broncos were also a bit concerned because they were dominated by a pair of playoff teams the past two weeks. Denver has good reason to believe it will be in the playoffs. No team has failed to make the playoffs after leading its division by more than three games, and the Broncos once held a 3 1/2-game lead in the AFC West. But they simply weren't competitive against two teams they potentially could see in January.

"It's kind of disheartening because both losses were big losses to the same division and the same type of team -- and both playoff teams from last year," cornerback Andre Goodman said. "If we're going to compete with those teams, we have to play there."

The Broncos have to regroup against a struggling Washington team this week. Then Denver will have its biggest game of the year: a rematch against the Chargers at Invesco Field at Mile High.

NOTES, QUOTES
--Quarterback Kyle Orton hadn't thrown an interception other than on a Hail Mary in Denver's first seven games. His first batch of interceptions was costly, however. He threw three against Pittsburgh, which turned into 14 points. One was returned for a touchdown.

"As a quarterback, I put it on myself," Orton said. "It is my offense, and I will get it back on track."

--The Broncos defense was great early in the season, but it has shown some signs of cracking the last two games. Denver was incapable of stopping the Steelers in the second half, allowing 321 yards to Pittsburgh after halftime.

"They just outplayed us," defensive end Kenny Peterson said. "There is a reason why they are the defending Super Bowl champions."

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES
--RB Correll Buckhalter, not Knowshon Moreno, started for the Broncos. Buckhalter was a bit more effective than Moreno, gaining 24 yards on nine carries. Moreno had 3 yards on five carries.

--RB Peyton Hillis was inactive against Pittsburgh. He has been dealing with personal issues but should return soon.

--CB Ty Law played as Denver's nickel cornerback against Pittsburgh. The Broncos probably will continue to use Law as their third corner.

--LB Robert Ayers made his first big play in the NFL, picking up a Ben Roethlisberger fumble and returning it for a touchdown. The Broncos have been pleased with the first-rounder's progress.

--WR Brandon Marshall had 11 catches in the loss to Pittsburgh. The Broncos like to spread the ball around, but Marshall is their unquestioned No. 1 receiver and will get more than a fair share of catches.



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