Gut Reaction: Week 13 - Broncos at Vikings

Don't look now, Denver, but the Broncos are in first place!

This was a game the Broncos should have won, but who would have thunk it?

Like this?  Yeah, just like this.  The Broncos' high-octane offense put up 28 points on the road, my friends. 

Their offense was a second-half juggernaut.  It came at just the right time.

On a day in which the Broncos needed Tim Tebow to pass as well as he's been running the football, they got exactly what they needed. Tebow had his best passing day as a pro.

Their remaining schedule has them playing at home three out of four.

Do you believe? You'd better start.

The Positives

1. What do you do when you're missing your best pass rusher?  If you're Dennis Allen, it ain't no thang.  Just overload and bring the cornerback blitz...or the safety...or, you know, whoever wants to take a free shot at Christian Ponder.  Ponder got pounded like he was hanging from a meat locker.

2. Mario Haggan said before the game, "I'm confident."  If that's all it takes for Haggan to transform into Lion-O from Thundercats, I'm all for self affirmation.  Haggan played well today.  He's no Von Miller (no one is), but I can't complain.  Also, if you are looking for a video game to buy for the holidays, Haggan recommends Batman: Arkham City.  I have to admit, it's the best Batman game I've ever played.

3. The Vikings are not what I would call a smart team.  Leslie Frazier took his first timeout with 2:07 remaining in the first half.  That deserves a big WTF Award.  But it wasn't nearly as bad as watching the Vikings try and take two consecutive timeouts.  All of the blown coverages that allowed Demaryius Thomas to look like Jerry Rice were just gravy.  Thanks, Minnegravy!

4. What was the biggest difference for Denver when they came out for the second half?  Misdirection, that's what.  Mike McCoy made some great second half adjustments, it can't be denied.  Of course, the Vikings adjusted, too.

5. Quan Cosby is the new "intangible."

6. One thing Tebow can do well is stiff arm weak tackling.  That was pretty freaking amazing when he put linebacker E.J. Henderson to the turf on the touchdown to Demaryius Thomas.  Speaking of Tebow, I think he played exceptionally today; he extended several plays with his feet and made some awesome throws.  Yeah, sure, some of his receivers were wide open, but you can't penalize him for that.  Sometimes, in football, your wide receivers are open.  So what?  He's playing the style of play John Fox wants right now.  Mechanics, blah blah blah.  I get it.  We'll deal with that another day.

7. Three weeks ago, Demaryius Thomas was slow, couldn't get out of his breaks, and couldn't run routes.  In the open, field, however, route running matters little.  The question Mike McCoy should ask himself after this is, How do I get Thomas in open space?

8. Britton Colquitt is simply the best punter in the league right now.  If he doesn't make the Pro Bowl, it's criminal.

9. Willis McGahee is a great running back.  He's exactly the kind of running back John Fox wanted when he first made a play for DeAngelo Williams in the offseason.

10. All Matt Prater does is make big-time kicks and force Percy Harvin 10 yards deep into his own end zone.

The Negatives

1.  Mike McCoy should have called a QB sneak on the Broncos' first play of the game.  It would have given Denver some breathing room.  I guess the Broncos only want to run Tebow (the league's best running quarterback) on 1st and 10, instead of those situations in which they could really use a yard or two.  

2. Joe Mays left a lot of tackles out on the field today, although he did prove he can hammer tackle a wide receiver like Percy Harvin.  Toby Gerhart is another story, however.  You want a lock in next year's draft: the Broncos draft another middle linebacker in the first four rounds.

3.  Although D.J. Williams mugged Kyle Rudolph on the Vikings' second drive of the day, he did the right thing.  It would have been a sure touchdown.  Still, hugging it out with the tight end always makes you look bad.  Toby Gerhart made Williams look downright slow as well; D.J. is still looking for his jockstrap.    

4. John Elway dies a little bit every time the Broncos go another game in which they are brutal on 3rd down.  Today they were 3 for 11.  Ask me how much I care, John.

5. Turnovers are the great equalizer.  The Broncos got three today, but gave up two.  By the 3rd quarter the score was 14-15--almost as equal as it goes.    

6. Percy Harvin is as fast as advertised and Toby Gerhart is the real Peyton Hillis--that is to say, white and tough to bring down.  Did I mention that Percy Harvin is as fast as advertised?  He made Kyle McCarthy look like he was playing on ice ice, baby.

7. John Fox, I repeat, grow a pair.  They do have 2-point conversions in the NFL, if you haven't noticed.  Fox was finally forced to go for two points in the fourth quarter.  I'm glad the game finally got in Fox's face and said, "Anytime you're ready, big boy."

8.  Andre' Goodman, for as good as he was last week, was a bit below average today.  Man coverage is always a high-risk proposition, but today Goodmann took a few on the chin.  This is not to say the entire Broncos secondary did a whole heck of a lot better.  Sure, Goodman picked off a Ponder pass late in the game, but I can't excuse the entire body of work.  I can soften it, however.  You should have seen what I wrote here during the first draft.

9. Matthew Willis was thinking something today, but I'm just not sure what it was.  He's incredibly lucky that Eddie Royal wasn't seriously hurt and that the Broncos didn't turn the ball over when he decided to make himself a heat-seeking missile.  The heat?  Eddie Royal's body.

10. David Bruton didn't have a lot of reps in practice this week.  It showed.  The injury to Quinton Carter had as big an impact in this game as the injury to Von Miller.

The Who The Heck Knows

1. For what it's worth, I thought Josina Anderson was pretty smoking hot providing substantive analysis before the Steelers-Bengals game on Sunday NFL Countdown.

2. Before the game, Cris Carter and Keyshawn Johnson continued to deliver a buzzkill on Tebow.  Johnson said he's "still sleepy" on Tebow and that the Broncos are playing "trick football."  Keyshawn delivered a further insult when he said, "He's just not there.  He wasn't there in high school, he wasn't there in college, and he's not there now."  Carter said all he believed in was the Broncos' defense and John Fox football.  Tommy Jackson then broke in and brought up Tebow's intangibles and the impact Tebow has on the running game.  Still, TJ said he doesn't think Tebow will be the quarterback of the future.  That was something new that I hadn't heard him say before, so it surprised me. Then Chris Berman spoke about something, but it all came out like mumbling nonsense.    

3. Von Miller said he injured his thumb during a bull rush last game during Elvis Dumervil's sack. He also said he could play with one arm, "fanatically." Every time Miller does an interview, I find myself getting amped up.  I know there was a story early last week that Miller had irritated some of the veterans early in the year, but then I also listened to an interview with Mario Haggan last week, in which he called Von his "little brother."   Either way, after seeing Miller in this picture, I have a hard time not rooting for the guy.

4. I've never seen a quarterback as jacked up and ripped as Tebow.  Watching him warm up was like watching Brian Wilson throw a baseball--without the beard. Joe Mays said he's never been around a quarterback who "acts like a linebacker."

5. Also before the game, everyone's favorite villain, Merril Hoge, called the Broncos offense "gimmick football" and said that Tebow will be exposed long term.  Hoge said he felt the "gimmicks are working right now, but when you have to play real football, it won't work."  Meanwhile, Bill Parcells said Tebow has attributes Hoge couldn't see.

6. When Ryan Clady has his hands in Jared Allen's facemask, it's a penalty.  What happens when Allen has his hands in Clady's facemask?  Nothing. The Broncos got brutalized by the referees several times today for garbage "hands to the face" calls.

7. The Broncos had another eight penalties today.  That's eight too many.

8. The offensive line hasn't received much attention from me lately, but they have been playing well, and I've just plain spaced them out.  They played well yet again against one of the league's better rush defenses.  Individually, it's hard to grade them this quickly, but I think Orlando Franklin played exceptionally.

9. This was Tebow's best game as a pro.  Will we look back and say this was the game in which he turned away the doubters?

10. The Miami Dolphins are suddenly playing like Matt Moore has "intangibles." We thank them.  Suck it down, Raiders!

I’m glad we had this talk.  Now, vaya con Dios, Brah.

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