From The Armchair: Denver Broncos: Week 4
All week, this game was being trumpeted as a track meet in the making with the league’s best offense in the Broncos hosting the 2nd best offense (in terms of yards anyway) in the Eagles on a glorious Denver day. Everyone knew the Eagles defense would be facing an exceptional challenge, and many felt the Broncos would have problems holding up against Chip Kelly’s offense. Denver came out to start the game and stopped the Eagles 3 and out for just the 2nd time this season. Peyton Manning took over at his 26 and led the Broncos on a 9 play scoring drive culminating with a Wes Welker TD catch on their first possession for the 2nd week in a row. The Eagles followed up with a good drive but had to settle for a field goal. Trindon Holliday took the ensuing kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown and the lead was 14-3. After another long Eagles drive that ended in a field goal. In all, Manning and the offense was on the sideline for over 10 minutes of game time. After a 3 and out, the Eagles finally put one in the end zone on a Chris Polk 4 yard run to cut the lead to 14-13. Knowshon Moreno made it 21-13 before halftime with a 4 yard run of his own. As this year has gone the first three weeks, the Broncos blew this one open in the 3rd quarter and beginning of the 4th. Two Demaryius Thomas touchdown catches of 1 and 15 yards, and a 4 yard touchdown by Wes Welker made it 42-13 after 3 quarters. The special team unit came up big again in the 4th with a blocked punt for a touchdown and Matt Prater hit from 53 yards out and the Broncos were up 52-13 halfway through the 4th. The Eagles got on the board again late in garbage time on a Nick Foles TD pass to Jeff Maehl and that was all she wrote.
The juggernaut continued to roll as most people assumed it would in this one against a weak Eagles defense. Peyton Manning was on the sidelines for over 10 minutes of the 1st half and didn’t play in the 4th quarter and still ended the day 28/34 for 327 yards and 4 touchdowns bringing his season total to 16. In the last two games, Manning has hit on 85% of his throws and thrown only 11 interceptions compared to 7 touchdowns. Knowshon Moreno had a solid game as the game’s leading rusher going for 78 yards on just 12 carries, including his touchdown. He saw a bulk of the action today and is still entrenched as the #1 back. The triumvirate of receivers had another solid day. Demaryius Thomas had a game high 9 catches for 86 yards and 2 TDs, Wes Welker had 7 for 76 and 2 TDs, and Eric Decker chipped in with 8 for 88. All in all, the first team was in charge in this one, scoring on 5 of the 7 drives lead by Peyton Manning.
The offensive line played great, with just one breakdown leading to a sack of Manning late in the first half, and helped the running backs gain 141 yards on 33 carries. It was also good to see John Fox give Brock Osweiler some game action and more importantly keep Peyton Manning safe on the sidelines with a big lead.
This team has been great at making half time adjustments and showed that with a clinic in the third quarter where they gained 214 yards and picked up 18 first downs. Of the 179 points they’ve scored this season, 107 of them have come in the 2nd half. That 107 is more than 26 teams have scored in total. The scary part for other teams is that the Broncos have essentially put on the brakes early in every 4th quarter.
Stat of the day: The Jacksonville Jaguars have scored 31 points this year. The Broncos have scored 31 or more in a HALF three times.
The Eagles did a good job moving the ball in the first half, gaining 145 yards in the 1st quarter, but the Broncos were strong when they had to be and held the Eagles to 2 field goals. Even though they gave up 166 rushing yards, the defense held the league’s leading rusher Shady McCoy to 71 yards and almost all of Vick’s 41 rushing yards came on broken play scrambles. Danny Trevathan and Duke Ihenacho, coming off an injured ankle last week, were all over the field again in this one. Once they got a big lead, the Broncos were able to put good pressure on Michael Vick and ended up sacking him 3 times. It was good to see Derek Wolfe get his first of the year, especially after being basically invisible last week. The secondary did a good job, lead by Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, of keeping Desean Jackson in check. The biggest passing plays for the Eagles came against zone coverage, screen passes and throws to the tight ends. It’s those seam passes that have given the Broncos defense fits all year and something they need to focus on against Dallas next week.
As long as the Broncos continue to roll on offense and get out to big leads, you’re going to see this defense give up yards. The important thing is going to be what they did today and hold teams out of the end zone in the first halves of games.
We’ll see what happens with Champ Bailey this coming week as he was able to participate more and more in practice as this past week went on. Also, Von Miller only has 2 games remaining on his suspension.
You couldn’t have asked for a better day from the Special Teams unit in this one. Trindon Holliday’s 105 yard kick return for a touchdown in the first quarter opened up the game a bit for the Broncos. It was his 6th return touchdown in 21 career games. How the Texans just let him go for nothing still amazes me. The most satisfying play of the game came with the game out of hand. Backup linebacker Steven Johnson came in unblocked on a 4th quarter punt attempt, got the punt block, scooped up the ball and jaunted in for a 17 yard score. Matt Prater was perfect on extra points and drilled a 53 yard field goal in the 4th to set a team record for points in a game with 52.
Next week the Broncos head to Dallas to take on the Cowboys who lost today to the Chargers and gave up 400 passing yards to Philip Rivers.