The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

What we’ve all been dreading Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! There are plenty of reasons to be a fan of the NFL over other sports.

It's an exciting game with supreme athleticism, choreographical beauty, and intellectual strategy. At turns, a football game can be won by the strongest men, while at others, its smartest can rule the day. It is played by nimble 330-pound men and brutally strong 230-pounders alike.

For the most part, it is a fair game.

Never before have I thought about why I love the NFL and considered officiating. But I have often viewed soccer matches and boxing bouts, noted the notoriously inconsistent officiating, and found myself grateful to not be a fan of either sport.

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Last-place tie Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Rumors of the demise of Peyton Manning's arm strength were shown yesterday to be greatly exaggerated. No surprise there.

Unfortunately, the quality of Denver's defense was also proven overstated, and Peyton & Co. again ran out of time attempting a furious comeback from a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit.

Denver scored two touchdowns in the final stanza, but it wasn't enough, as the Broncos dropped to 1-2 with a 31-25 loss (Gamebook) to Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips's Texans.

Jack Del Rio's guys got tuned up for three Matt Schaub touchdown passes within a twelve-minute, four-second span, in a nightmarish first half that netted the Texans a staggering 285 yards of offense.

Were it not for a timely Wesley Woodyard interception near the end of the first half - a swing of six or ten points, after Matt Prater's third FG - the game may have been over before Rod Smith took his rightful place among the Broncos' greats in the Ring of Fame.

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Scabs love home cooking Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Make sure you've cleared more than three hours from your afternoon for today's game. If you're recording it, set the DVR to go longer than you normally might.

If the season so far is any indication, a potential overtime game could approach four hours.

As we all learned in painful fashion Monday night, one of the many negative outcomes of the officiating lockout is that games are stretching even longer than normal. Broncos/Falcons went 3 hours 27 minutes, while the average game in Week 2 lasted for 3 hours 14 minutes - tied for third longest in the past 20 years. Brutal.

There is one bright spot here for the Broncos - at least for the next two weeks. Home teams have been faring much better in terms of winning games (an unprecedented 14 of 16 were victorious last week), penalty counts (road teams have faced 23% more flags than have home teams), and an unheard of 61.3% of them have apparently covered the point spread.

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Pick play sealed Monday’s game Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Chris Harris says he's ready to play tomorrow; including Harris and Quinton Carter, who were both limited in practice, Denver has listed six players as probable for tomorrow.

Chris Kuper remains out, as he recovers from his forearm injury, and is the only other Bronco on the injury report.

Jack Del Rio says LB Keith Brooking's role will continue to grow; after playing nine snaps against Pittsburgh, Brooking was in for 36 of Denver's 69 defensive snaps on Monday night.

LB Tim Dobbins is questionable for Houston, while eleven others are probable.

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Tim Tebow = Superman, apparently Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Finally, there's some good news regarding the health status of Chris Harris (ankle).

The nickel corner returned to practice yesterday, albeit in a limited fashion; Mike Klis thinks Tony Carter is likely to see more action again on Sunday. Quinton Carter was also limited (knee). Von Miller, Joel Dreessen, Tracy Porter, and Brandon Stokley were all on yesterday's injury report, but all were full participants.

Because the defense started Monday night's game on their own one-yard line, Champ Bailey's string of having started all of his NFL games was broken.

The league fined Falcons DE Ray Edwards $8K for a late hit, but still nothing for contacting an official, which should have gotten him ejected from the game after Knowshon Moreno's fumble. Let's see, it should have been Denver ball at the Atlanta 32 with the score 10-0, and Edwards tossed. Instead, It was Atlanta ball at the 17, and Edwards got to stick around. Of course, the statistics will show that the refs called a penalty, so everything is okay, right?

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Vince Young: the Norm Peterson of Cheesecake Factory Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Peyton Manning (video) was of course asked about his arm strength yesterday, since his three interceptions on Monday were a bit floaty in nature.

But as one would expect, Peyton didn't have much to say, because what can he possibly offer? He's already told us many times that he's not 100%.

For his part, Eric Decker says Manning "hummed" the deep middle pass that sailed through the wideout's hands, and he of course says he should have caught the ball there.

Chris Harris and Chris Kuper did conditioning work, but neither practiced yesterday; Kuper is reportedly still a week away from practicing. Quinton Carter and Von Miller were limited, while Joel Dreessen and Brandon Stokley are on the injury report but were full participants.

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Why can’t Monday be the refs’ fault? Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! I'm not sure why I need to clarify yesterday morning's intro, because I thought it was rather clear. But here goes...

Yes, my point was indeed that the officiating played a large role in the outcome of Monday's game. Were their blown calls alone in causing Denver to lose? Of course not. The turnovers helped, as did a dropped interception or two. The pass rush could have been more impactful.

But here's what I find quite amusing regarding the allocation of blame for a loss:

Why is one person's claim that Peyton Manning's three interceptions were the main reason for the loss considered indisputable, while it would be completely invalid to blame the refs?

Both are opinions, and not based in delusion, right? Or is the latter un-American?

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Happy National Cheeseburger Day Lard

Good Afternoon, Broncos fans! Today is National Cheeseburger Day, so be sure to celebrate with your favorite version of the iconic American food.

A Hamburger Today is marking the occasion by giving away a signed copy of George Motz's Hamburger America. Motz's show Burger Land, which reairs on the Travel Channel next Wednesday and Thursday, is worth checking out.

My favorite version of our national treasure (favorite meal, really) is a rare burger with cheddar at J.G. Melon, along with their crispy cottage fries; the photo below is from my most recent trip there.

J.G. Melon is unfortuntely located on Manhattan's stuffier-than-stuffy Upper East Side, and the service isn't exactly top-shelf. But there's no better burger for my money.

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The NFL just doesn’t care Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! You know, you never want to make it about the officials. It's petty, it's weak, and it's the mark of sore losers.

Especially when you turn the ball over four times within a quarter. Well, three times, if the referees had even the slightest clue on Knowshon Moreno's fumble.

See? There we go.

The story of Denver's 27-21 loss (Gamebook) was going to be Peyton Manning's three early interceptions, but the defense held Atlanta to just 10 points following those inexcusable gaffes.

From there, the Ginger Hammer's so-called "competent" replacement officials took over.

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Broncos/Falcons pre-game Lard

Good Evening, Broncos fans! Ron Jaworksi and Mike Ditka are siding with coach Greg Schiano regarding the end of the Giants/Tampa Bay game yesterday, when the Bucs defensive line crashed through with the Giants in victory formation.

But Will Brinson explains why Schiano is full of it when he says it's all about playing hard 100% of the time; or at least, the new NFL coach doesn't practice what he's preaching.

To wit, Schiano's team didn't try its hardest when the G-Men knelt to end the first half, and Schiano did not use all of his timeouts at the end of the game.

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