Good Morning, Broncos fans! We've spent the past eight months and six days thanking John Elway, for having turned our Broncos - by virtue of one pair of deft transactions - from self-promoting circus to legit contender characterized by intense professionalism.
Not only did KC have Peyton Hillis attempt a pass to Brady Quinn on third-and-three of their game-opening, Bronco-mauling opening drive, but Romeo doubled down on the stupidity by going for the field goal when the ill-conceived throw failed. It was early four-down territory for the Chiefs, but in a game where Crennel and his players were never, ever thinking ahead, Denver escaped what seemed sure to be a 7-0 deficit.
Romeo's opting to kick on fourth-and-two from the Broncos four-yard line just five minutes later was equally baffling and magnanimous, and for that, we also express our warm appreciation.
But nothing was more perplexing than the Chiefs taking a timeout on fourth-and-six from the Denver 46 - down five points with 6:35 to go - and then compounding that error with the timid decision to punt. It was a clear case of not thinking ahead, which might go something like, "What will we do on fourth down if we fail to convert on third? Do we want to go for it? That should determine what we do here on third down, right?"
To borrow a phrase from Bill Barnwell - Thank you, Romeo Crennel, for not coaching.
As for that newfound professionalism, the team's lack of satisfaction following a road division win, and its dedication to players-only film sessions, show how far the Broncos have come in these past eight months.
San Diego (4-7) blew a 10-0 halftime lead and allowed Baltimore (9-2) a ridiculous conversion on a fourth-and-29 in the closing minutes of regulation on the way to a 16-13 overtime victory for the Ravens. The Chargers have now lost three straight, and six of seven, while Baltimore is riding a four-game winning streak and remains a game ahead of Denver in the AFC standings, but has a brutal stretch run to deal with.
To make matters worse for the Chargers, they also lost a slew of players to injury, and the brutal outcome left their locker room puzzled and distraught, in the words of Takeo Spikes. As Kevin Acee and Nick Canepa see it, they're just a bunch of losers.
The Broncos will head to Baltimore for a showdown with the Ravens in Week 15, precisely when Baltimore could get Ray Lewis back. It would be a remarkably quick rehabilitation of a torn triceps, but that's nothing new to the Ravens, who saw Terrell Suggs return from his torn Achilles in less than six months.
Denver's magic number for the AFCW title is down to just one, meaning that after the next Broncos victory or Chargers loss, they will have repeated as AFCW Champions for just the third time in franchise history ('77-'78, '86-'87), a fact Woody Paige whiffed on because he was too busy patting himself on the back.
Next Sunday, the Broncos will host the Bucs (6-5), who lost 24-23 in a back-and-forth battle with the Falcons (10-1). San Diego will host the Bengals (6-5), who punished the Raiders (3-8) and former Cincy golden boy Carson Palmer 34-10.
On a side note, seven of Atlanta's wins have come by seven points or fewer, and the three bigger margins have come against the league's worst teams (Chiefs, Chargers, Eagles), so don't be surprised if they go from high seed to early playoff exit yet again.
The Broncos dedicated their effort to Robert Ayers, who played the game only hours after learning that his father had died suddenly.
Denver dodged a massive bullet when Peyton passed an in-game concussion test following his first touchdown pass.
According to Mike Klis, the Broncos will likely sign former Chargers RB Jacob Hester this week; he had worked out for the team on Wednesday.
Credit is obviously due Knowshon Moreno, who ran like he's been paying close attention to the patience shown by Willis McGahee.
Dave Krieger says a win at Arrowhead is always welcome, and he correctly lauds Mike McCoy's decisions to throw three times from the Denver two-yard line late in the game, even if the result was a three and out.
Andrew Mason wonders if future opponents will go run-heavy like the Chiefs did, but is JDR really going to counter that with nickel personnel going forward? Doubtful.
In typical Woody Paige fashion, he thinks he's coining a winning nickname by lamely calling these Broncos the Horse Force.
Pittsburgh (6-5) took on the host Browns' (3-8) usual role of hapless, clumsy team, fumbling eight times (losing five) and throwing three picks, for a total of eight turnovers to Cleveland's one. Even with the vast turnover differential, the Browns were only able to win by 20-14, because they are the Browns. There's talk that Ben Roethlisberger could return to action as soon as next week, when the Steelers face the Ravens.
Browns QB Brandon Weeden, who had foolishly questioned his team's preparation and play-calling earlier in the week, suffered a fourth-quarter concussion and was replaced by Colt McCoy; the game marked the end of SB 32 loser Mike Holmgren's tenure as Browns team president.
Indianapolis (7-4) remains a game ahead of both Cincy and Pittsburgh in the wild card standings, after they beat the Bills (4-7) 20-13 thanks to two touchdowns from T.Y. Hilton (one receiving, the other on a punt return).
Miami (5-6) scored 17 fourth-quarter points, including a Dan Carpenter FG at the gun, to nip the Seahawks (6-5) by a score of 24-21. Real life imitated that awful Buffalo Wild Wings commercial in the third quarter, when Sun LIfe Stadium's sprinklers were accidentally turned on. Following the game came word that Seattle cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner have been hit with four-game suspensions for PED use.
Although he threw a pick on his first pass and was sacked seven times, Chad Henne again sparked the Jaguars (2-9), this time to a 24-19 win over the Titans (4-7).
Hours after big brother Peyton had passed John Elway on the all-time list for most career victories, Eli Manning broke the Giants franchise record for TD passes, previously owned by the guy who hilariously declared recently that Eli isn't elite.
Kid brother's three touchdown passes, along with two huge Aaron Rodgers turnovers, led to a 38-10 dismantling of the Packers by the G-Men (both are 7-4), during which former Broncos RB Andre Brown suffered a broken leg, and after which TE Martellus Bennett saved a fan who had fallen over a railing at the Meadowlands. Mike Tanier, Clark Judge, Don Banks, and Dan Wetzel react to the game.
San Francisco (8-2-1) brought back two pick-sixes on Drew Brees, and Colin Kaepernick ran for one score and threw for another to go 2-0 as a starter, in their 31-21 win over the Saints. Old friend Brodrick Bunkley got himself ejected from the game after he retaliated for an apparent nut shot with a Suh-like kick to the head of Alex Boone, and Mighty Mite Darren Sproles flipped Aldon Smith over his back in impressive fashion.
Jay Cutler made his return from concussion a triumphant one for the Bears (8-3), who whipped the visiting Vikings (6-5) 28-10 in a costly manner, losing several other key players to injury along the way. In typical Jay fashion, he earned an unsportsmanlike penalty by flipping the ball at some defenders after a scramble.
St. Louis (4-6-1) also used two pick-sixes - both from rookie Janoris Jenkins - to knock off the host Cardinals (4-7) in a 31-17 game between teams headed in opposite directions.
Andy Benoit, Mike Tanier, Will Brinson, Don Banks, Clark Judge, Jason Cole, John Clayton, and Alex Marvez recap the day's action; Benoit credits Peyton's line calls with setting Knowshon up well, Tanier excoriates Crennel's decision-making, and even CW dealer Marvez says Romeo needed to go for it instead of kick.
As expected, Bill Barnwell finds plenty to laugh at in Romeo's Sunday calls and non-calls, along with the moronity of Dan Dierdorf and Greg Gumbel's claims that Crennel was wise to "play the odds" and keep "momentum" on his side by not maximizing his team's number of points.
In his MMQB column, Peter King says Von Miller and J.J. Watt are equally deserving of being called the league's best defensive player.
The Ultimate Teammate™ has caused such a divide in Jets Land that Fireman Ed, who supported the Sanchize in the QB battle by wearing his jersey, has decided to hang up his helmet. To update the scoreboard, it's Zombies 1, LOLJets 0, and John Elway ∞, Zombies 0. TYJE.
Links added: 9:45am ET - MMQB; 9:55am ET - Krieger, Paige; 10:28am ET - Barnwell