Gut Reaction: Week 14 - Broncos vs Titans

Peyton Manning can’t throw in cold weather—unless he can.

That’s the narrative now. Although the temperature hovered around a frigid five degrees for most of the game, the Broncos offense—and Manning in particular—created a blaze so hot, the Titans needed treatment for third-degree burns.

Make no mistake: the Broncos had two plans in this game. The first was to win the game, which they did handily, 51-28. The second was to send a message to the rest of the league: Peyton Manning can not only play in cold weather, he can torch you.

If you’re coming into Denver late in the year, you'd better believe in Santa Claus. That’s because Peyton Manning is Jack Frost. 

The Positives

  1. Matt Prater, welcome to the NFL record books. Sure, there was altitude, but in cold weather, that kick was as good as you’ll ever see. It was also one hell of a way to end a half—at least, Jason Elam thinks so. Also, give John Fox some credit for letting Prater give the field goal a shot.
  2. Peyton Manning didn’t have five touchdown passes today—it only felt like it. Doug Lee can tell you how many records Manning set today. I’ve simply lost track.
  3. The world is simply more beautiful with Julius Thomas in it, even with a dropped pass or two. The Broncos can do so much with him in the lineup, both from the slot and from the Z. Too big, too quick, too fast.
  4. If you ever wanted to see a textbook pick route, I submit Wes Welker’s touchdown. That play is impossible to defend.
  5. It seems like Eric Decker brought his hand-fighting skills from last week into this game. For good measure, he included his mouth-fighting skills as well. You want to fake an injury? Eric Decker is going to let you know about it.
  6. Demaryius Thomas was downright sluggish in the first half, which could explain why Peyton Manning was chewing on a piece of his ass on more than one occasion. New half, new man.
  7. Is Knowshon Moreno averaging 10 yards per carry yet? It sure feels that way.
  8. The Broncos continue to get great rushes inside from Malik Jackson. He may not have notched a sack today, but he was in Fitz-Leprechaun’s face all day.
  9. John Fox went for it on fourth down three times today—that’s what we call improvement.
  10. Terrance Knighton dropping into zone coverage for an INT? It’s elementary, really. Better was the pressure by Von Miller that created the opportunity. Miller, to his credit, created consistent pressure through the second half.
  11. Chris Harris quietly did what he always does—which is to say, he covered his ass off.
  12. The offensive line kept Manning dry yet again, but don’t lose track of their run blocking, which averaged 5.3 yards per carry (excluding Manning's three kneeldowns). Once again, Manny Ramirez was the best of the bunch.

The Negatives

  1. There were just too many dropped passes. Pick your favorite wideout. Chances are, he put the ball on the ground unnecessarily. For fun, let’s blame the cold weather.
  2. How do you get three false start calls at home?
  3. Denver has a great screen game. Hand it to the Titans for some serious film study during the week. They snuffed the screen each and every time. Denver quickly abandoned that plan.
  4. Just when you were sure John Fox understood going for it on fourth down, he punted from the Titans' 40-yard line on 4th-and-3. On the next possession, Mike Munchak showed him how to coach like your ass is on the line.
  5. Regarding the rest of the Broncos’ special teams—it’s been as putrid as I’ve ever seen it in the last two weeks. Tony Carter, in particular, has been a magnet for decleating.
  6. Give Welker all the time he needs to get back from his latest concussion. Two in one year used to be the norm. Now we know it’s the body’s way of saying, “You’re in the redline, pal.”
  7. Kayvon Webster was worked over in the first quarter, no doubt, but let’s note that Fitz-Leprechaun had all freaking day to throw.
  8. Montee Ball runs $1 million routes. Unfortunately, sometimes his catches are worth 1 cent.
  9. If it’s me, I don’t risk Decker on punt returns—ever.
  10. In his post-game interview, Julius Thomas indicated he’s still not 100%. Let’s hope playing on a Thursday night turnaround doesn’t slow him down.

The Who The Heck Knows

  1. Is Andre Caldwell one of the two best options on kickoff returns? I know he took one back today (called back by a block in the back), but let’s hope Trindon Holliday gets back to form, and soon.
  2. Von Miller’s wallet is going to be lighter next week. The good news? With less cash, he might be even quicker to the quarterback.
  3. Adam Gase’s passionate defense of Peyton Manning this week also had implications for three quarterbacks who are no longer relevant in the NFL—Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn, and Tim Tebow. Gase said he’s had quarterbacks that didn’t give Denver a shot to win. Of course, he didn’t mention anyone by name, so you’ll just have to guess who he was talking about.
  4. Suddenly, the Cincinnati Bengals look like the second best team in the AFC. Still, if they think they can come into Denver and match points with the Broncos offense, they're in for a surprise.
  5. The Browns lost to the Patriots on the road in an early game that can only be described as terrible. If you ever needed proof that the Browns are the Browns, you got it today. A personal foul on an onside kick? If it weren’t for Stephen Gostkowski, the Pats would have at least three additional losses. Oh, one more point about the Patriots game: Rob Gronkowski was injured yet again. It’s too soon to know how severe the injury is, but things don’t look good.
  6. If you missed the Lions-Eagles game earlier in the day, you missed a dandy. There was so much snow on the ground, they started going for two-point conversions out of necessity.
  7. From time to time, I still think about Champ Bailey, I really do.
  8. Still no word on what’s ailing Derek Wolfe. Obviously, that’s not a good sign at all.
  9. I didn’t spend a lot of time watching Paris Lenon, but it did seem like he got a lot of snaps in this game.
  10. Tell me again why Mike Shanahan took a coaching job with any team owned by Dan Synder?

Now, Broncos fans, give us your list!

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

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