Good Morning, Broncos fans! Last week, the Broncos wore out a college play and rode it to a divisional road win. Yesterday, they employed the high school strategy of running the ball 87% of the time in a road division game, and it worked - Denver won at Arrowhead 17-10 (box score). What will they do on Thursday night when the Jets come to town? Punt on third down? Who cares, right? After all, the Broncos are just a game below .500 now and that same margin behind the first-place Raiders (5-4), tied with the Chargers and Chiefs at 4-5.
In case it wasn't abundantly clear after Tim Tebow did not attempt a single pass during the fourth quarter in Oakland with the game on the line, yesterday absolutely confirmed that John Fox and Mike McCoy do not trust their young QB to throw the ball. It was a record-setting day in that regard: in 51.5 seasons of Broncos football, the team had never attempted fewer than 11 passes in a game; yesterday Tebow threw eight passes and completed two of them. This marked just the third time Denver had as few as two pass completions in a game; the first two instances were in 1966 and 1967, both blowout losses. Denver's 55 rushing attempts were their most since twice topping that figure in 1978.
BUT, one of those completions was a beautiful 56-yard deep strike to Eric Decker with just under seven minutes to play in the game and largely sealed the victory for Denver (He made an NFL throw, which means he can someday be a 60-65% passer, right?). The Broncos ran for 244 yards a week after putting up 298 rushing yards in Oakland, starting yesterday's game with 14 straight carries and rushing 38 times before Tebow completed his first pass, a smoke route to Matt Don't Call Me Matthew Anymore Willis.
Meanwhile, the Denver defense sacked Matt Cassel four times and registered 12 QB hits on Cassel and his late replacement Tyler Palko; super rookie Von Miller now has eight sacks in nine games, and the Broncos held the Chiefs to 124 net passing yards and 258 overall net yards. The two teams combined for just four plays of over 20 yards - three by Denver and one by Kansas City. In other words, if all you watched were the highlights from Broncos TV, NFLN, or GameDay, then you'll have seen about everything you needed to have seen.
Let's give credit where it's due though, why don't we? John Fox knows he can't win ballgames by calling for passes. He knows his quarterback can't throw within a zip code of his targets, so Fox has turned a team that hadn't run consistently well in six years into one that can gain five yards a pop even when everyone in the building and watching on TV knows it's coming. He also happened to hire a fine young defensive coordinator and the FO supplied them with an elite talent in Von Miller. It also appears at this point that Fox made a stellar hire in ST coordinator Jeff Rodgers, as the Broncos are a consistent threat in the return game for the first time since Darrien Gordon. Can't pass, so you get it done by running the ball, playing tough defense and winning the special teams battle. Now, can this work on Thursday and beyond? We'll see...
Mike Klis recaps the victory, plus notes from the DP and Andrew Mason: Knowshon Moreno is expected to miss Thursday's game and will have an MRI today to determine the extent of his knee injury, while Willis McGahee strained a hamstring and may be able to play against the Jets. Plus, Brady Quinn was again the #2 QB ahead of Kyle Orton yesterday.
Jeff Legwold says the Broncos varied the look of their running game, and that they're still struggling on third downs.
Video of John Fox, Tim Tebow, and several others speaking after the win; plus, Tebow speaking briefly with Stacey Dales of NFLN, and Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin discussing Tebow's winner-ness and the awkward feeling John Elway has at this moment.
New England coasted to a 37-16 win against the Jets, getting three TD passes from Tom Brady and a pick-six of the Sanchize in the process.
You know who's dumb? The Sanchize, that's who. He called a timeout with 1:24 left in the first half on third-and-goal from the two and plenty of time left on the play clock. The problem wasn't the timeout; it helped the Jets make the proper call and score on the next play. But failing to run the clock down before taking it left enough time for Brady to drive the Pats down the field for a TD of their own.
Here's a transcript of Rex Ryan's post-game presser from last night.
I happen to hate the Jets, personally. Why? I've lived in Jets Land my whole life, and nothing speaks to that more than the animated GIF atop this post at KSK.
New Orleans beat Atlanta 26-23 after stuffing the Falcons on a 4th-and-1 from the minus-30 in overtime. Interestingly, the EPV favors the decision made by Atlanta HC Mike Smith, while Andy Benoit wonders why the Falcons didn't use a QB sneak on the play.
Tennessee destroyed Carolina 30-3 as CJ2K busted out for 177 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown.
After notching just four takeaways in nine games, the Steelers picked off Andy Dalton twice in the fourth quarter to help them beat the Bengals 24-17. To make matters worse for Cincy, they lost CB Andre Hall for the season with a torn Achilles.
The Rams held on for a narrow 13-12 victory after the Browns botched the snap on a potential go-ahead 22-yard FG in the closing minutes.
Dallas pummeled the visiting Bills 44-7 in a manner not unlike the teams' two SB matchups.
Jacksonville handed winless Indy their tenth loss of the season 17-3 thanks to 137 yards from scrimmage and a TD by MJD.
Miami won their second-straight game after an 0-7 start, defeating the woeful Redskins and Rex Grossman 20-9.
Houston maintained their two-game lead over the Titans by whipping Tampa Bay 37-9 as Arian Foster posted 186 YFS and two scores.
Baltimore suffered yet another crushing loss, this time to the lowly Seahawks, 22-17 in Seattle.
Chicago's defense picked off four Matthew Stafford passes and took two of them back for scores, while Devin Hester tallied his 12th career punt return TD as the Bears mauled the Lions 37-13. Stafford is apparently a sorehead, although he did play the game despite having a fracture in his throwing hand.
The Niners held on for a 27-20 victory over the visiting Giants, who converted two fourth-down passes on their final drive but failed on their third attempt.
Matt Bowen's notes from the early and late games, plus Andy Benoit, Will Brinson, CHFF, Pat Kirwan and Eric Edholm analyze Sunday's action. Bowen says the Broncos resembled a high school team yesterday, and that Tebow must pass the ball for the team to sustain its success. Benoit says the Broncos used 16 option plays and is baffled that KC allowed 95 yards on them, and he credits John Fox for the team's game plan. Kirwan thinks the Broncos will let Tebow run it 20 times in a game at some point (perhaps Thursday?).
Mike Silver, Peter King, Clark Judge, Jason Cole, Don Banks and John Clayton wrap up the day's games, plus MJD's best (John Fox) and worst players from Sunday. Banks wonders if the Broncos just might have the "best winning formula" of any team in the AFC West, and yesterday apparently marked his Come to Tebow moment, as he thinks maybe Tim's just a winner. PK thinks the Broncos should just "ride the wave."
Brian Burke has presented us with a gift that will always be giving, in the form of a 4th Down Calculator which will tell us all of the statistical factors for a fourth-down decision. Maybe someday we'll see Jim Schwartz using it on the sideline, haha. Or, perhaps Mike Smith already has this stuff memorized...
In case you're mad about Matt Prater's FG miss yesterday, there were plenty of more glaring whiffs around the league yesterday.
The ANS (Advanced NFL Stats) guys discuss their picks for best offensive players of the year thus far.