Good Morning, Broncos fans! Yesterday's game was supposed to be a showdown between self-professed superheroes Cam Newton (Superman) and Denver's pass-rushing Dynamic Duo of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.
Either Newton forgot his cape, or Von is the Kryponite to Cam's multiple powers, like he is to most quarterbacks.
Denver's Batman (Dumervil) came up with a strip sack of Newton before leaving with an early shoulder injury, and Robin (Miller) was the unquestioned star of the day, posting four tackles for loss, a sack, another hit on Newton, a forced fumble of his own, and a seemingly countless slew of hurries, including one which led directly to a beautiful 40-yard pick-six by the still-emerging Tony Carter.
Von says he had taken particular notice of Newton's offseason claim that his Panthers would "crush" Miller's Broncos, and Jack Del Rio's defense responded with seven sacks of the only player picked ahead of Miller in the 2011 Draft, following most of them with Cam-mocking Superman celebrations.
Denver's dynamo added a gyrating safety dance for good measure after Mike Adams's fourth-quarter takedown of Newton in the Carolina end zone.
On the topic of explosive players, Trindon Holliday turned in another game-breaking performance, providing the Broncos with a second-quarter lead they would never come close to surrendering, with a 76-yard punt return he would cap off with another of his moronic celebrations.
A week after nearly flipping the ball away too soon on a 105-yard kickoff return TD, Holliday did precisely that and essentially fumbled the ball while heading into the end zone, but his gaffe was caught by neither the on-field referees nor the booth review official. Thankfully, John Fox is aware of the problem, and presumably, it won't happen again.
Peyton Manning was held to just one touchdown pass (which tied him with Dan Marino on the all-time list) for the second time this season, breaking a five-game string of three-TD performances. But he topped the 70% completion mark for the sixth straight week, turned in his sixth 300-yard game in the past seven, and had a QB rating better than 100 for the sixth time in a row.
Denver now holds a two-game lead over San Diego (4-5), who dominated Tampa Bay (5-4) in terms of first downs (23-12), third-down conversions (10-15 vs 3-9), total yards (426-279), and time of possession (36:41-23:19) but lost 34-24 on the scoreboard.
The Bucs scored on a blocked punt and an 83-yard return of a hilariously bad interception thrown by derpmaster Philip Rivers, who likely indulged in some self-flagellation afterward, he was so mad at himself. Even the typically ho-hum Norv Turner blew a gasket following the game, although it was a reporter's question that was the subject of his ire, not his team.
Norv claims his squad is "mentally and physically tough," and that they'll "respond" next week in Denver by fighting their asses off. Yeah, we'll see about that one.
More likely, the Broncos will build what will essentially be a four-game lead by sweeping the head-to-head matchup and put Norv and the Chargers out of their misery.
Denver used a mix of defensive personnel to shut down most of Carolina's offense, with the tight end (as usual) Greg Olsen the lone exception.
Two more fumbles by Willis McGahee figure to be a topic of discussion and action at Dove Valley this week.
Dave Krieger was most impressed yesterday by Denver's seven sacks of Newton and the third-down shutout pitched by the defense.
Mark Kiszla says the Broncos finally have playmakers, and the result is big plays in bunches.
Oakland (3-6) was laughed out of Baltimore, where the Ravens (7-2) punched in a fake FG score to go up by 31 points in the third quarter, on their way to a 55-20 shellacking. Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes, Jacoby Ford capped off the scoring with a 105-yard kickoff return, and Baltimore turned the Raiders over three times.
Houston (8-1) remains alone atop the AFC after punishing the host Bears (7-2) in a 13-6 slug/slopfest that featured six turnovers, a concussion for Jay Cutler, and just 21 first downs between the two teams.
A woeful end-zone interception thrown by Ryan Fitzpatrick ended the Bills' (3-6) late hopes in a 37-31 loss to the Patriots (6-3); the shootout was comprised of an eye-popping 62 first downs, 838 yards of offense, and eight offensive touchdowns.
Tennessee (4-6) converted one of their four takeaways into a pick-six while handing the host Dolphins (4-5) a 37-3 beatdown.
Cincinnati (4-5) revived their fading playoff hopes by stunning the visiting Giants (6-4) in a 31-13 annihilation that was nowhere near as close as that score would indicate. Andy Dalton threw four touchdown passes for the Bengals, who turned two third-quarter Eli Manning interceptions into short-field touchdown drives.
Seattle (6-4) shut out the easily-shut-down Jets (3-6) offense in a decisive 28-7 win, nearly doubling them up in first downs (20-11) and total yards (363-185).
New Orleans (4-5) knocked Atlanta (8-1) from the ranks of the unbeaten in a 31-27 thriller that essentially ended with a dramatic goal-line stand in the closing minutes. The Saints were apparently helped along by the motivation delivered by the Falcons talking some pregame smack to their former teammate Curtis Lofton.
The underdog Rams (3-5-1) can be proud of tying the Niners (6-2-1) 24-24, but they're likely instead thinking about what could have been, as a couple of mindless penalties in overtime - an illegal formation on an 80-yard pass play, and a delay of game on a 53-yard field goal - cost them the game. Meanwhile, Rams WR Danny Amendola and Niners S Dashon Goldson joined Donovan McNabb in the Didn't Know the NFL Had Tie Games Club.
Dallas (4-5) scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns on punt, interception, and fumble returns, to beat Philly (3-6) by a score of 38-23.
Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder led the Vikings (6-4) to a resounding 34-24 win over the visiting Lions (4-5), ending what had been a two-game losing streak.
The most notable injuries yesterday were the concussions suffered by Cutler, Smith, and Vick.
Andy Benoit, Mike Tanier, Clark Judge, Mike Silver, Peter King, Don Banks, John Clayton, Jason Cole, and Alex Marvez wrap up the day's action; Judge can't see Andy Reid taking over in San Diego, while Banks is puzzled by Holliday's TD celebration, and who isn't?
Kansas City placed massive draft bust DT Glenn Dorsey on injured reserve yesterday, potentially ending his Chiefs career in the process.
Doug Farrar expects Oregon's Chip Kelly to be a very hot commodity among NFL teams with coaching vacancies in the next few months.