It’s tough for Cincinnati to come into the Mile High City and exit with a win. The proof? Their last victory at altitude was on Nov. 9, 1975. On Sunday, the Broncos overcame a variety of mistakes, stepped up when things were tough and crafted a victory at home over a resilient Cincinnati team that was coming off a win over their own rivals, the Cleveland Browns.
Cincinnati made no bones about the path they wanted to take to beat the Broncos: Denver once gave up a league-record number of yards to Corey Dillon, and the Bengals wanted to see if they could do it again, this time with Cedric Benson. With an extensive list of inactives that included Champ Bailey, Demaryius Thomas, Brandon Lloyd, Knowshon Moreno and D.J. Williams, it looked like Cincy might be an uphill battle for the Broncos. By the end of the first half, Julius Thomas (ankle) and Eddie Royal (groin) had joined those other key players on the sideline. I spent some time with the film of the Bengals' Week 1 win at Cleveland, and it looked like Cincy’s front line on defense was very much, as Ted has also noted, very physical and they also reminded me of the Oakland front. I expected a tough, close game, and I wasn’t disappointed. The Bengals are in a similar situation to the Broncos - having changed coaches, schemes and many of the players, it’s tough to get much film on them, so a lot of adjustments throughout the game on both sides were made on the fly.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Obviously, there are many ways to view the outcome of Sunday's two-point victory - the Broncos made the plays they needed to win the game, they were fortunate to have the ball bounce their way on certain occasions, the Bengals shot themselves in the foot with ill-timed penalties, or Cincy just isn't that good. But as Frank Frigo tells it, there was another major factor at play: Marvin Lewis incredibly managed to out-conservative our own cautious John Fox, and it did in his team.
No, it wasn't Lewis' decision to forego a 54-yard FG attempt in the closing minutes; instead it was his puzzling choice to punt on 4th-and-1 at midfield twice to start the game and to kick a FG on another 4th-and-1 while down five points at Denver's five-yard line, late in the third quarter and with momentum clearly on the Bengals' side. According to Frigo's calculations, these unprogressive decisions cost the Bengals more than 34% in Game Winning Chance (GWC) with the chip-shot FG counting for almost half of that. Of course, the Broncos have not yet gone for it on a fourth down (they have not yet faced a situation where they should have), and during his nine years in Carolina, Fox went for it fewer than ten times in four of those seasons, so at some point this same fogyish strategy Lewis employed to keep his team from winning on Sunday will bite Denver in the rear. Mark it.
The Broncos have made a move to shore up their shrinking WR corps, but it was not a PS promotion as might have been expected. Rather, the team signed former Cincinnati Bengal, Anaheim Angels farmhand and Texas Longhorn Quan Cosby (5'9" 190) to the active roster and waived RB Jeremiah Johnson to make room for him. Cosby has served primarily as a punt returner during his two NFL seasons, and it would figure that he'll function in that same role for Denver now that Eric Decker can expect to see more time at WR following the injury to Eddie Royal. Cosby returned 70 punts for a 10.0-yard average but had only seven career offensive touches for the Bengals (six catches and one carry).
Happy Tuesday, friends. You have to like a start to the week that includes a win, even if it was a fairly ugly one. I like the pushback on Monday from John Elway that any Broncos fan who is disappointed with a win isn’t really a Broncos fan. I agree with that, and I’ll never root for the team to lose for any reason. Beyond the game at SAF, it was an interesting NFL weekend, and there’s much to discuss. Ready… BEGIN!!
1. I’m guilty, and I have to admit it. I’m the guy who, particularly on my old WordPress site, has relentlessly beaten the drum about how the Broncos media and fan base lack the ability or inclination to allow the team to undertake a real rebuild, or to admit that one is needed.
b. Broncos fans are spoiled and entitled, after 30 successful years, which included 7 AFC championship appearances, 5 Super Bowl appearances, and 2 victories. They unreasonably demand winning now, while mostly not understanding that every team has eventually had to rebuild.
Then, during the preseason, when the Broncos’ primary players looked good, I let myself get a little overexcited about the team's prospects. Last week, when the team spit the bit against Oakland, I let myself get down more than I should have. Today, I’m happy to have witnessed a win, but I’m not letting myself get too high about it. Perspective has returned.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Unfortunately, the news of the day was that WR Eddie Royal will be out at least two weeks with a strained groin, with his return figuring to be Week 5 against San Diego or Week 7 at Miami following the Broncos' bye week. Obviously, Royal's injury underscores the urgency for WR Brandon Lloyd to return from his groin strain this week; according to LJ, there's a chance Lloyd, DE Elvis Dumervil, RB Knowshon Moreno and LB D.J. Williams will be back practicing sometime this week. As for Denver's other serious injury from Sunday, TE Julius Thomas is also out for at least two weeks with a high ankle sprain, and he was in a boot and on crutches yesterday.
Meanwhile, John Fox said yesterday the Broncos wouldn't again make the glaring mistake of entering a game with only three healthy WRs - and since Lloyd's return to health is not guaranteed, it's probably a safe bet the team will call up Eron Riley or D'Andre Goodwin from the practice squad to supplement the current group of Lloyd?, Eric Decker and Matt Willis for Sunday's game at Tennessee. It will also be interesting to see if the team is willing to enter Sunday with only Daniel Fells and Virgil Green healthy at TE, as doing so would likely hamper Denver's ability to utilize two-TE and max-protect sets. If the team were to make a pair of moves, DT Mitch Unrein and RB Jeremiah Johnson would figure to be prime candidates to be waived and stashed on the PS if they were to clear. Is Richard Quinn healthy and/or in football shape?
The IAOFM staff discuss the Denver Broncos' 24-22 victory over the visiting Cincinnati Bengals. Denver opens with a 15-play, 85-yard drive and scores on a Willis McGahee 1-yard TD run; 7-0 Broncos
TJ: I hope John Fox calls a great game. Last week was not pretty. He just admitted on pre game he abandoned the run too quickly. Good catch, Fox. Nothing gets by you. JD Walton needs to step up today. I'm beginning to start to wonder about that one.
Ted: All 3 interior guys do. They were all terrible last week
TJ: Broncos making good plays - used 22 look, now 21. Now 3rd and 3, and they used--smartly--113 package but went max protect with two outlets. A little stretch bootleg to Julius. Zane Beadles penalty - well he didn't have one last week, so get it out of the way, haha
Ted: Stop me if you've heard that one before
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Who said Denver doesn't have any depth? The Broncos had to resort to lining up Tim Tebow at WR yesterday as they eked out a 24-22 victory (box score) over the Bengals, and they sit in a tie for first place in the AFC West (probably won't be able to write that again this year). Denver lost Eddie Royal to what appeared to be a groin injury, while Julius Thomas suffered a high ankle sprain; both left the stadium on crutches.
The victory came on the strength of two beautiful Kyle Orton TD passes to Eric Decker, 101 patient and hard-fought rushing yards from Willis McGahee (who also punched in Denver's first touchdown), and Dennis Allen's defense holding Cincy to 1-of-11 on third down and making just enough plays to hang on for dear life in the fourth quarter. Wesley Woodyard (10 T, 3 A, 1 TFL, 1 PD) showed why D.J. Williams is overpaid and expendable for these Broncos, while Joe Mays (5 T, 3 A, 2 TFL) continued to thump and dole out statement-making hits.
Pulled groins to the left of us, twisted ankles to the right, and here we are stuck in the middle with who?
Yeah, that was Tim Tebow you saw split wide today.
Who says John Fox isn't creative on offense?
A plague of
locusts injuries forced the Broncos into the unconventional today. So did two turnovers and some sloppy penalties. In the end, they survived, 24-22.
Kyle Orton said it was one of the best wins of his career.
Given that one more injury at tight end would have forced Russ Hochstein into the role, Orton is probably right.
Let's take the win and get out of here, Broncos fans. I can't stand the thought of Hochstein trying to beat a linebacker up the seam.
Enjoy the games everyone, and Go Broncos!
8:55pm ET - Not sure we'll be able to say this again this season, but the Denver Broncos are tied for first place in the AFC West!
7:20pm ET - Denver holds off a late Cincy drive and gets their first victory of the year! Final score 24-22 Broncos
Good Morning/Afternoon, Broncos fans! Apologies for the late Lard, but I was out of town, back just in time to catch the day's games - this will be an abbreviated edition. Of course, the big news is that the Broncos have given up on the already slim chance that Ty Warren would be able to return to health in time to have an impact on the 2011 season while wasting a roster spot for much of the year. Instead, they placed him on IR yesterday to open a spot for RB Jeremiah Johnson, who was promoted from the practice squad for today's game.
In other injury news, Marcus Thomas had been expected to rejoin the team before last week's opener, but he apparently suffered a groin strain during his conditioning test - that is what kept him out Monday night and will cause him to miss today's game as well.