Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

This CAN’T Be Happening

Posted by mizzou1028 on December 22, 2008

Where do I start with this one?  Seriously?  How did the Broncos lose yet another home game to an inferior opponent?  The Bills had nothing to play for, and yet they showed more urgency and made more plays when it counted than the Broncos did.  The Broncos had every opportunity to bury the Bills early, yet somehow the Bills were able to hang around, and hang around some more, eventually take the lead, and never relinquish it.  Thanks to San Diego’s win at Tampa Bay, the Broncos are now in a position where they must win at San Diego next Sunday night to clinch the AFC West and make the playoffs (more on that game in a moment).  I watched the entire game, and I am still in many ways at a loss to explain just how the Broncos managed to lose this game considering the following:

– The Broncos outgained Buffalo 532-275, nearly a 2 to 1 advantage

– The Broncos held Buffalo to just 87 yards rushing, and a 3.3 yards per carry average

– Eddie Royal raced for a 71-yard run in the first quarter, the second longest run by a non-running back in Broncos history

– Champ Bailey returned and sparked the Broncos defense with 9 tackles and an early sack and forced fumble

– Denver controlled time of possession, winning that battle 33:11 to 26:49

– Brandon Marshall finally stepped up with another big game, hauling in 10 passes for 129 yards

Those things considered, here is how the Broncos managed to lose this game:

– Red zone inefficiency.  Denver went just 2 for 6 in the red zone (two field goals, an interception and a turnover on downs).  This is simply not acceptable.  Denver settled for two field goals early, and even though they had a 13-0 lead, it easily could have been 21-0, and at the very least should have been 17-0.  That would have made a big difference not only in the score but also in terms of momentum.  The interception thrown by Jay Cutler at the Buffalo two with just over five minutes to play was very costly.  On the next drive, Cutler overthrew a wide open Brandon Stokley on third down, and then on fourth down, Stokley had the pass for a moment, only to see it get knocked out of his hands by Terrence McGee.  All told, the Broncos drove to the Bills’ 15 yard line twice in the last five minutes and came up with no points.  This will not win you any games.

– It is a broken record, but the Broncos lost the turnover battle 2-0.  Even though the Bills cashed those turnovers in for just three points, they still proved costly.

– The coaches made a questionable decision with two minutes to go in the first half.  They allowed Matt Prater to try a 54-yard field goal instead of punting and burying the Bills deep.  The wind was not ideal for a long field goal, and Prater missed the kick short even though it was on line.  The Bills got the ball at their own 44, and were able to drive for a momentum changing (and crowd silencing) touchdown right before halftime.  This was a questionable coaching decision to allow Prater to try the kick.

– The Broncos running game took yet another hit with the first quarter injury to P.J. Pope, who ran for 44 yards on just six carries before exiting.  Tatum Bell and Selvin Young only combined for 36 yards on the ground the rest of the way.  

– Special teams.  Granted, Leodis McKelvin is one of the top kick returners in the league.  His mere presence forced the Broncos to take drastic measures to kick away from him.  That being said, too many times Denver allowed Buffalo outstanding field position on kick returns and a short field to work with.  When your defense is struggling as much as the Broncos defense has, you can’t expect them to come up with stops when the opposing team is starting on the wrong side of midfield.

– Give the Bills credit.  Even though they came in with nothing to play for, and could have easily rolled over when they fell behind early, they stayed in the game and ended up winning at the end.  

The bottom line for the Broncos is they are an 8-7 team, and have not looked playoff worthy the last two weeks.  Good teams win easily in December at home against non-contending teams.  The Broncos for the past few years have not been able to do this, hence they keep missing the playoffs.  Denver had every chance to bury the Bills early, but settled for field goals when they needed touchdowns.  They gave Buffalo life at the end of the first half, and found themselves in a dogfight when they should clearly have been the team with more to play for.  Buffalo is a team that had lost  8 of its past 10 games, for all intents and purposes had collapsed.  The Broncos loss to Buffalo does not bode well for their playoff prospects even if they somehow upset the Chargers next week.

Here’s all you need to know about the Broncos’ suddenly very bleak postseason prospects: the early Las Vegas line has the Chargers favored to win by nine points next week.  The game in San Diego is needless to say a tall order for the Broncos.  They will be on the road, on Sunday night to boot (NBC grabbed that game as soon as the Broncos lost).  The Chargers will be out for blood after the Broncos’ crazy 39-38 win win week two.  San Diego feels they got robbed by Ed Hochuli.  I maintain the Chargers still had chances to come up with a stop and didn’t on either the touchdown or two point conversion, but that’s beside the point.  This NFL season has so wild and crazy though, especially for the Broncos.  It’s a season where teams win games they’re not supposed to and choke games away they’re supposed to win easily.  In any case, the Broncos’ first playoff game is on Sunday.  The winner wins the AFC West and the loser is out.  The Broncos quickly need to figure out how to avoid turnovers, how to take advantage of red zone opportunities while now down to their 8th option at running back (the backfield is so depleted that Tony Scheffler was forced to line up at fullback in the second half), and somehow figure out how to stop a suddenly red hot Philip Rivers.  I hope the Broncos can figure out a way to win and make the playoffs, but the realistic side of me doesn’t see the Broncos having much of a shot on the road against a suddenly hot team unless they start playing much better.  Things look bleak for the Broncos indeed.  Then again, this is the NFL, and that means predictions are worthless.  I hope.

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2 Responses to “This CAN’T Be Happening”

  1. Angie said

    The thing that killed me was that Cutler kept overthrowing Broncos in the end zone. How can we win if he can’t throw a touchdown pass?!

  2. Doug Baker said

    The thing that gets me is some crummy team from the AFC West is likely to get into the playoffs with an 8-8 record while my Patriots might miss the playoffs with an 11-5 record! And I can’t stand San Diego and they do NOT in any way deserve to be in the playoffs. I hope Denver wins next week.

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