From the Armchair: Denver Broncos, Week 2
Week 2 of this NFL season brought us the over-hyped “Manning Bowl”. The Broncos coming in off a big win over the Ravens and the Giants coming off an ugly loss to the Cowboys. This one was ugly early as both teams had issues catching the football, combining for 8 drops in the first half. Eric Decker again had a couple glaring ones and Hakeem Nicks had an easy catch turn into a drop and a dislocated finger. Leading 10-9 at halftime, the Broncos, like last week, surged in the second half outscoring the boys in blue 31-14 with scores on their first 4 possessions en route to a 41-23 victory.
Now onto some non-expert analysis
The Broncos came out firing on all cylinders on their opening drive to start the game. Quick passes, and a couple third down conversions got them down inside the 10. The drive however came to an abrupt end as Montee Ball fumbled heading in for a touchdown and the Giants recovered for a safety. After starting 11/12 for 127 yards Manning struggled in the last part of the first half. They were able to take advantage of a short field to start the second half and drove 40 yards in 4 plays capped with Knowshon Moreno touchdown. As they did last week, the Broncos made great halftime adjustments and came out and scored on their first 3 offensive possessions of the second half. Through the first two games, the Broncos have scored 66 2nd half points.
Manning was solid and more human-like going 30-43 for 307 and 2 TD. Eric Decker, despite a few drops was targeted a team high 13 times and caught a career high 9 balls for 87 yards. Julius Thomas and Wes Welker each caught their 3rd TD passes of the year. The Giants did a good job of limiting the effectiveness of the Broncos WR screen and shallow crossing plays and in turn limited Demaryius Thomas to 5 catches and 52 yards. The star on offensive had to be Knowshon Moreno who ran it 13 times for 93 yards and two similar touchdowns on stretch runs around the right end. Maybe his biggest play was hustle fumble recovery of a DT fumble close to midfield.
One thing of note, Ryan Clady left the game in the 4th with an ankle injury after getting rolled up on.
The defense could best be described as average in this one. The front 4 did a great job against the run limiting the Giants to 23 yards on 19 carries. As expected, the secondary had its hands full with Eli and the Giants receivers. Chris Harris was abused by Victor Cruz in the slot all day, including a 51 yard pitch and catch on New York’s first offensive play, but kept him out of the end zone and did come up with a pick on a Tony Carter deflection. Tony Carter got himself a pick late in the 4th, but was guilty of three pass interference calls. Eli threw for 362 yards but threw for only 1 TD while the D came up with 4 interceptions.
The lack of a pass rush was again a concern for the Broncos as they only got to Eli once and had 2 plays where Manning escaped what should have been sacks. Derek Wolfe and Shaun Phillips were non-factors. Danny Trevathan had the lone sack and contributed with a strong game.
For all their struggles, the defense came up big when they had to, especially in the first half when they were able to hold the Giants to field goals and limit what could have been a lot worse.
Before leaving with a knee injury, Duke Ihenacho was a beast for the second game in a row. Keep an eye on this one throughout the week. Once again, Champ Bailey was inactive with a foot injury.
Matt Prater was 5/5 on extra points and 2/2 on field goals including a 47 yarder. The big special teams play was of course the 81 yard punt return for a touchdown by Trindon Holliday, his 5th career return TD.
One thing the Broncos need to clean up is their taking penalties. They were whistled for 13 for 132 yards. Of course, I’m biased and think several of those calls were questionable. Especially when the Giants where only flagged 4 times.
Up next: the hated Raiders come to Sports Authority Field for Monday Night Football.