From The Armchair: Denver Broncos: Week 10
Coming out of their bye week, the Denver Broncos headed to San Diego to start their toughest stretch of their season to date. Weeks 10-13 see the Broncos heading to San Diego, home to face the Chiefs, then road games at New England and Kansas City. It was imperative for the Broncos to start this off on the right foot. Of course, as this year has gone, the Broncos were handed a new challenge during their bye week when head coach John Fox was hospitalized and early last week underwent open heart surgery to repair his aortic valve which will keep him sidelined for several weeks.
The game started well for the Broncos, as on their 3rd play of the game TE Julius Thomas fresh off an injury took a 7 yard pass from Peyton Manning and rumbling 74 yards up the sideline for a touchdown. San Diego did a great job in the first quarter plus controlling the clock, but on drives into the Broncos end had to settle for field goals. With a little over 9 minutes, the Broncos finally got on the ball again managed back to back touchdown drives of 80 and 3 yards to take a 21-6 lead into halftime. Denver got the ball to start the 2nd half and drove 80 yards in 3:26 to go up 28-6. The rest of the game saw frustrating inefficiency from the offense as the Broncos gained just 34 yards on their next 4 possessions resulting in a fumble lost and 3 punts, while the Chargers scored 2 touchdowns to cut the lead to 28-20. The Broncos salted the last 3:30 minutes away picking up key first downs and gaining 44 yards to run out the clock and escape with an 8 point win.
If you look at the numbers, the Broncos managed to have a good day. They did put up 28 points and gain 397 total yards in just 21:57 minutes of possession. The Chargers did a good job after going down 28-6 of slowing the Broncos down though as they held Denver scoreless the last 26 minutes. Peyton Manning threw for 330 yards and 4 touchdowns, but was the victim of a costly strip sack deep in their own end that lead to a Chargers touchdown. Knowshon Moreno had a productive day, rushing 15 times for 65 yards and catching 8 balls for 49 yards but was held out of the endzone.
The stars of this Broncos offense were easily Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas. DT caught 8 balls for 109 yards and 3 touchdowns. JT caught 3 for 96 and that 74 yard touchdown.
The Broncos still have the record for points scored through 9 games with 371. Dallas is 2nd in the league with 274.
Broncos fans had a collective “Oh s***” moment late when Manning was hit down low by Corey Liuget. He came up hobbling, then went back down again. An MRI done yesterday came back negative so he should be ready to go next week. Hopefully somewhat mobile against a fierce Chiefs defense.
The Broncos defense is continuing to get better every week. This week, they held Philip Rivers to 19/29 passing and only 218 yards. There were times when the Broncos were able to get some pressure on Rivers, they did sack him 4 times, including one by Von Miller, but the secondary did a good job when Rivers did have time to throw. The D did benefit from a few breaks courtesy of penalties early in the game that negated big San Diego plays, but came up big when they had to without forcing any turnovers.
The middle of the front may have had their weakest performance of the year. The Chargers were able to run for 131 yards with a good chunk of them coming up the middle, especially on 3rd downs.
Playing another game without Champ Bailey, Chris Harris Jr. had a nice game, and I continue to be impressed with the improving play of Kayvon Webster at corner.
Wesley Woodyard was dinged up a couple times in this one. He’s the glue of the middle of this defense, so that’s something to keep on eye on this week.
Not much going on with the special teams corps this week. Matt Prater was 4/4 on extra points but didn’t attempt a FG. Britton Colquitt didn’t get any of his 5 punts inside the 20, and Trindon Holliday only had 2 punt returns for 6 yards, but averaged just under 26 yards on 4 kickoff returns.
Coming up: The Broncos host the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Football in America brought to you by Carrie Underwood’s legs. The Chiefs are led by their defense. They lead the league in fewest points allowed with 12.3/game. The Broncos are averaging almost 30 more than that. Something has to give.