Monday Musings: Denver, Robert Ayers and value

They did it. They shocked me, and I’ve got a lot of company. It might not have been a great passing performance, but it was a very good one with multiple long receptions. The Steelers were down to their starting QB limping and their starting RB out as well as some line problems, and that’s a shame, because I think that on that day, Denver would have beaten them, healthy or not. The whole team talked about it all week long - this isn’t about some QB. This is the Denver Broncos, they were at home in the playoffs, they earned it, and ending the regular season with three losses wasn’t making anyone in that locker room happy. The team came out of the runway and ran straight into history. I can’t imagine anyone complaining about the pass protection - the OL gave Tim Tebow lots of time, and while he didn’t complete for a high percentage, he threw big passes. Sometime I think he likes it that way. Beating Pittsburgh, at home, after the last time Denver faced them in the playoffs, was special. Winning in overtime at home is even more so.

One thing that I really liked (and there were many) was David Bruton’s performance. He kept his gap discipline on the Pittsburgh 17-yard run in the fourth quarter:  the run was not directly inside his gap, but two or three three techniques over. He immediately saw that there was no defender, took off from a full stop and built speed quickly: he took a good angle to make the tackle, downfield or not, and with his speed, he kept it out of the endzone. He had a half-dozen good plays over the course of the day. I’ve always believed that Bruton has what it takes to make it as a starting safety. Yesterday suggested the same thing.

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The Daily Lard 1-9-12

GOOD MORNING, Broncos fans! Your Denver Broncos notched their first playoff win in six years yesterday with a 29-23 overtime victory over the defending AFC champion Steelers, setting up a rematch with the New England Patriots, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and now, Josh McDaniels - this time in Foxborough on Saturday night at 8PM ET.

So, what was it this time? Score on defense? Uh uh. Score on a special teams return? Negative. Win the turnover battle? No. Opponent gifts/brain farts? Nope. Foxball? Nah. Tebow Time? Not the kind we've seen before. Instead, Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas connected on a slew of big plays, none bigger than an 80-yard catch and run on the lone play of overtime. Tebow produced 366 yards of offense and three scores on 10 pass completions and 10 rushes, and his fellow 2010 first-rounder caught four passes for 204 yards and the game-winner.

A week ago against KC, Denver's longest play from scrimmage was a 17-yard catch and run by Thomas. Yesterday, Tebow had pass completions of 80, 58, 51, and 15 yards to Thomas; 40 and 17 yards to Daniel Fells; 30, 13 and 9 yards to Eddie Royal (the 30-yarder opened Denver's scoring on what was probably Tim's finest pass yet as a pro); and a 6-yarder to Lance Ball. Plus, Tim ran for three first downs, two of them crucial gains which led to Matt Prater's fourth-quarter FG.

Put simply, Tebow was fabulous.

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Gut Reaction - Wild Card Round: Broncos vs Steelers

The rumors of the fall of Tim Tebow have been greatly exaggerated.

In one of the biggest upset victories in Broncos history, Tebow did exactly what John Elway would have done--he pulled the trigger.

The game was electric; the pace was deadly; the results were amazing.

1998 never looked so good.

The defense was bend but don't break.  The offense was breakout.

Bring on the Patriots.  Stranger things have happened.

Today, I'm only giving Postives and nothing more. It's a playoff win, man!  Let it rip!  This one is for the readers.  Give us your thoughts on the first Broncos playoff win in six years!!!!!

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Open Thread - Wild Card Sunday

Enjoy the games, everyone - and Go Broncos! Denver's inactives today are S Brian Dawkins, FB Austin Sylvester, FB Spencer Larsen, LB Mike Mohamed, T Ryan Harris, TE Julius Thomas, and DE Derrick Harvey. Interesting that the Broncos will go without a fullback today, although TEs Dante Rosario and Virgil Green can fill in there when needed. This also means reserve linemen Tony Hills and Manny Ramirez are active; David Bruton is starting in place of Dawkins at strong safety.

For Pittsburgh, RB Mewelde Moore, S Ryan Clark, CB Cortez Allen, C Maurkice Pouncey, LB Mortty Ivy, DT Al Woods, and T Jamon Meredith are out.

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STDL: Wild Card - Broncos vs Steelers

The Broncos at 8-8 enter today's first-round playoff game as the #4 seed hosts of the #5 seed defending AFC Champion Steelers, who won 12 games despite a rough 2-2 start which included 11 giveaways by their offense (seven of them in their opener at Baltimore). And while the Broncos have lost three straight and the Steelers have won 6 of their last 7 games, Pittsburgh is also limping into this matchup - both physically and in terms of the quality of their play. The Steelers offense is on another bad run of turnovers, having given it up 10 times in four weeks, the same as Denver.

Neither team's defense has taken the ball away much, either on the season (18 by Denver, 15 by Pittsburgh) or in those past four weeks (2 by the Broncos, 3 for the Steelers). Turnovers are again were the Broncos' hopes lie today. Let's check out the numbers:

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The Daily Lard 1-8-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Here we are - it's been six years, but the Broncos are back in the playoffs, and they're facing the same franchise that beat them last time and prevented them from whipping facing the Seahawks in SB 40. Of course, these Broncos bear little resemblance to that eariier version, with only Champ Bailey and D.J. Williams remaining; of course, Champ made the key play the week prior to help the Broncos halt the Patriots' quest for a threepeat championship. It will probably take something similar today (multiple takeaways, not necessarily of the 100-yard return variety) to send the Broncos to a matchup with the Patriots in Foxborough next week.

What would be more poetic than a rematch of Tim Tebow and Tom Brady's Week 15 duel, and a faceoff between the Broncos and Josh McDaniels, their last head coach and new (again) OC of the Patriots? Not much, obviously. But first things first...

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Open Thread - Wild Card Saturday

Enjoy the games, everyone!

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Crennel to remain Chiefs HC; McDaniels to Pats

A few post-Lard news bits:

  • Mike Florio is still sticking by his story, and he now says that John Fox is ready to pull Tim Tebow tomorrow should he struggle against the Steelers.
  • According to Adam Schefter, the Chiefs are going to remove the interim tag from Romeo Crennel and retain him as their head coach next season.
  • Schefter also says the Patriots have hired Josh McDaniels effective immediately; McDaniels will reportedly join New England's offensive staff in coaching the Patriots in the playoffs.
  • Meanwhile, the Broncos have signed CB Josh Moore to a future contract. Moore was a fifth-round choice of the Chicago Bears in 2010 out of Kansas State and appeared in three games for them as a rookie but was released just after final cuts this season when Chicago signed Brandon Meriweather.

The Daily Lard 1-7-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Yesterday was a strange one in terms of Broncos/Steelers news, as a bunch of football reporters posted dueling and conflicting entries about practices none of them witnessed with their own eyes and something that hasn't even happened yet.

By now you've probably seen the back-and-forth as expertly chronicled by TJ yesterday; add Mike Klis and Jeff Legwold to those contradicting Mike Florio's claim that Brady Quinn took roughly half the first-team snaps in practice this week. Of course, none of Florio, Klis, Legwold, Darlington, or Mason actually saw more than 10 minutes of Denver's practice on any given day this week, so they're all reporting whatever information they've been given by players, coaches and sources within the team. In other words, it's all hearsay, and if Florio turns out to be right, they can all simply admit after the fact that the Broncos did a mostly good job of protecting state secrets. Even better, Tim Tebow can play the entire game and Florio can still claim that Quinn took half the practice snaps.

Either the Broncos want the Steelers to be unsure of who will be playing QB tomorrow and thus someone is feeding Florio misinformation, or Florio is correct and there are some loose lips at Dove Valley.

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Miller named second-team All-Pro

Granted, this is something more akin to a 'runner-up' designation, but Von Miller has been named a second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press. Miller was beaten out by Terrell Suggs and DeMarcus Ware for first-team honors. Miller has already been named a Pro Bowler, along with fellow defenders Elvis Dumervil and Champ Bailey. Here is the complete All-Pro roster, plus the associated story on the All-Pro team.

Bailey, Dumervil, Chris Kuper, Britton Colquitt and Matt Prater also received votes.