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History regurgitated: Denver's done

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Concudan, Nov 22, 2009.

  1. Concudan

    Concudan Meh... Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 5, 2006

    DENVER -- Remember the Denver Broncos?

    They had a six-pack of wins to start the season. Beat the likes of Cincinnati, Dallas, New England, San Diego. Had a 3½-game lead in the AFC West.

    That was before the abduction. Someone replaced those Broncos with these Broncos. These Broncos play like they have an endorsement deal with Sominex. They slept through Sunday's 32-3 loss to the San Diego Chargers, and no one is sure when -- or if -- they'll ever awaken.

    I'll beat the holiday rush. The Broncos are History Channel. They're done. I'm declaring them unofficially eliminated from the playoff equation with a half-dozen games remaining.

    "We definitely have to find some answers fast," said Broncos safety Renaldo Hill.

    Why bother? The Broncos' record says 6-4 --wild-card material -- but their November says 0-4. The way they're playing these days, I'm surprised they didn't lose on their bye week.

    The Chargers, once 2-3, have overtaken Denver in the AFC West standings. Just like they did last season. The Broncos missed the playoffs in excruciating fashion in 2008; they'll miss them in excruciating fashion in 2009.

    "We knew it was a long season and things happen," said Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

    This is true. For example, not every Broncos player grabbed a feather pillow and had nap time Sunday. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall's mouth was wide awake during and after the game. During the game he did a verbal scorch job on rookie running back Knowshon Moreno, whose second-quarter fumble at the Chargers' goal line cost Denver a touchdown. And afterward, Marshall aimed fingers at himself and at his teammates.

    "I don't regret anything," he said. "This is a playoff game. There were guys who were on the sideline who weren't angry, who didn't have a lot of emotion and they need to look at themselves in the mirror.

    "This is a game where you've got to have it."

    The Broncos didn't have anything, especially it. Marshall was good for three catches and 26 yards. Moreno finished with 80 yards and that killer fumble. They had the ball nearly 16 minutes less than the Chargers.

    "This is probably the most frustrating game I've played in," Marshall said. "I approached it like a playoff game."

    So did the Chargers, who somehow lost to the Broncos a month ago in San Diego. But the Chargers, who have won five in a row, aren't the same team. And the Broncos, unbeaten in September and October, have misplaced their mojo.

    "We can't sit back and mourn," Hill said.

    Mourn, no. Yell at each other, yes.

    Moreno's fumble could have cut a 13-0 Chargers lead to 13-7 at halftime. Marshall knew that, which is why he confronted the rookie.

    "Maybe I handled it wrong; we'll see," Marshall said.

    "Nothing big, just everyone heated," Moreno said. "Nothing long-term. Just heat of the moment."

    As the afternoon temperatures dropped from the low 50s to the 30s, so did the number of Broncos fans at Invesco Field. There were blotches of empty seats as early as halftime, but the actual "I'm getting out of here" moment came late in the third quarter.

    That's when the Broncos, trailing 20-3 and in full desperation mode, went for it on fourth-and-5 at the San Diego 40-yard line -- and whiffed.

    Commence the evacuation.

    From first place to frustration; that's the Broncos. They did it in less than a month and with stunning ease.

    "I'll start as I have the last few weeks," said Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, before detailing --again -- the list of weekly errors by his team. The short version: They're shopping at Costco and buying mistakes in bulk.

    At least this time the Broncos aren't waiting until the final three weeks of the season to wet themselves. Like Thanksgiving Day turkeys, the Broncos are cooked.

    Speaking of Thanksgiving, the Broncos play again Thursday, this time against the New York Giants.

    "It's probably the best thing about this," McDaniels said.

    Sure it is. Hello, 6-5.

    Then the Broncos go to Kansas City, where the Chiefs just beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Six and 6.

    Then they travel to Indianapolis for a Manning-oscopy. Six and 7.

    After that, they play Oakland. Seven and 7. Maybe.

    A trip to Philly won't be much fun. Seven and 8.

    Then the Chiefs come here. Eight and 8. Maybe.

    Anyway, it won't be enough. Not with the Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins in the playoff martini shaker. And not the way the Broncos are phoning it in these days.

    Actually, that's not fair. Kyle Orton and his sprained left ankle limped off the Broncos' sideline to replace starter Chris Simms with 4 minutes, 19 seconds remaining in the first half. Simms was only in the lineup because Orton's ankle was the size of a state fair pumpkin. It was Simms' first start since September 2006, and he played like it.

    Simms was awful. He completed 2 of 4 passes for 10 yards, was sacked twice and fumbled once before McDaniels handed him a boarding pass to the bench.

    "I just didn't have the greatest day of my life," Simms said.

    What does it say about the state of the Broncos when a quarterback playing on one ankle and barely any practice time is better than Simms playing on two ankles and with a full week's worth of prep time?

    And yet, when asked if getting the hook in the second quarter surprised him, Simms said "I wasn't expecting it."

    The Broncos think they can fix whatever is wrong. But here's the problem: They can't even articulate what's wrong. And if they could, they don't seem capable of being able to repair it.

    "It's going to take all of us being honest with ourselves," Hill said.

    Honestly? It's over.

    Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn3.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here.
  2. AnteaterRaider

    AnteaterRaider Carpe Diem et omni Mundio Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

    Jan 19, 2006
    Ain't it beautiful
  3. Concudan

    Concudan Meh... Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 5, 2006
    Broncos' bravado doesn't work this time

    DENVER -- The San Diego Chargers were in control before the game even started Sunday against the desperate but still cocksure Denver Broncos.

    As they did a month ago in San Diego, the Broncos huddled near where the Chargers were warming up. Some Denver players were facing the Chargers and pointing. It appeared as though no San Diego player even noticed the Broncos’ bait job. The Chargers were far more interested in stretching their muscles than their tongues.

    On Oct.19, the Chargers were incensed when Denver pulled the same trick on their home field. A shoving match ensued before the Broncos went on to beat the Chargers and take a commanding 3.5-game lead over San Diego in the AFC West.

    A lot has changed since then.

    “That stuff wasn’t going to work this time,” said San Diego linebacker Shawne Merriman, who was said Denver’s display last month was disrespectful. “We weren’t interested in any of that stuff [Sunday]. We were interested in winning the football game.”

    Denver coach Josh McDaniels also got involved in the pregame chatter. He exchanged trash talk (which he told the San Diego Union Tribune that Chargers players started) with some San Diego linebackers. After the game, Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips called McDaniels “a little cocky [rear end].”

    The Broncos had nothing Sunday -- not even effective pregame bravado.

    The Chargers completed an amazing month in the division by plastering the Broncos 32-3 on their home field. Denver was completely outclassed by the Chargers, who appear to be the team they were expected to be in the preseason.

    “We had it working today,” San Diego safety Eric Weddle said. “We knew what we were playing for.”

    The Chargers were playing for power in the AFC West. And they got it. San Diego is 7-3 and leads Denver (6-4) by a game with six to go. The Chargers have an easier schedule down the stretch than the stumbling Broncos, who have to regroup and play host to the New York Giants on Thursday night. San Diego, which is in the hunt to earn a playoff bye, has two games remaining against teams with winning records.

    The Chargers are poised to win their fourth straight division title. If they do, it will be the third straight year in which they came from behind to do so. San Diego started 5-5 in 2007 before winning its final six games. Last year, the Chargers became the first team to start 4-8 and make the playoffs as they won their final four games and Denver lost its final three games.

    “Same old Chargers,” Weddle said.”This year, we’re starting early.”

    The Broncos joined the 2003 Vikings as teams that won their first six games and then lost their next four games. The Vikings finished 9-7 and out of the playoffs that year. No NFL team has ever had a 3.5-game division lead and not made the playoffs.

    In no way do the Broncos resemble the team of the first six weeks. The Broncos, who were given a spark by an injured Kyle Orton in the second quarter, were careless on offense (they lost two fumbles in San Diego territory, one coming in the end zone) and are worn down on defense. Denver had no pass rush against the Chargers and was riddled again on the ground as San Diego had 203 yards rushing.

    “The plays that we were making when we were 6-0 we are no longer making,” Denver defensive end Vonnie Holliday said. “We have to regroup.”

    The Chargers entered the game knowing they had the Broncos where they wanted them.

    “We knew if we played the way we are capable, that we’re a better football team,” Weddle said. “We showed them that today.”

    From the pregame warm-ups forward.

    Rivers light up Denver again: After the loss last month, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers was back to his dominant self against the Broncos. He has won six of his last eight meetings against Denver.

    According to ESPN Stats and Information, Rivers has completed at least 60 percent of his pass attempts against Denver in the past eight games. In his past six games against Denver, Rivers has 12 touchdown passes and one interception.

    Rivers was a tidy 17-of-22 for 145 yards against Denver. He had one touchdown pass and no interceptions. He made every play he needed to as the Chargers cruised after taking a 13-0 lead at the half. Rivers completed 13-of-14 passes in the first half.

    Orton shows toughness:
    The question, privately, in the San Diego locker room was why Denver didn’t start Orton. He didn’t start because of a badly sprained ankle. But after backup Chris Simms -- who played poorly in the second half at Washington last week in a loss that may haunt Denver -- was ineffective, Orton was put in with the Broncos down 13-0.

    He completed his first three passes and led Denver to the goal line, where rookie running back Knowshon Moreno lost a fumble in the end zone. Had Denver scored there, it would have had all the momentum.

    Orton finished the game and was 15-of-29 for 171 yards. The Broncos hope he can play against the Giants.

    McDaniels said Orton didn’t start because Simms had all the practice reps last week and Orton wasn’t fully healthy.

    “Give Orton credit,” Weddle said. “He showed a lot of toughness and he played pretty well.”

    Broncos squabble on the sideline:
    Denver receiver Brandon Marshall got into Moreno’s face after his fumble at the goal line. Moreno, a rookie, responded by shoving the four-year veteran. Moreno tried to go after Marshall on the sideline and had to be restrained by teammates.

    “It was frustrating,” Marshall said. “Those are plays that kind of kill drives and we need to punch it in next time.”

    McDaniels downplayed the altercation.

    “We’ve got a lot of emotional players on our team,” McDaniels said. “Obviously, we don’t want it make scenes or problems for ourselves on the sideline. There are a lot of things that happen on the sideline that involve emotion.”
  4. WonderSlug

    WonderSlug Well-Known Member

    Sep 1, 2005
    Denver had their bye week after that win versus us.

    They haven't won since. :icon_eek:

    The bye week killed their momentum!

    The Bolts got theirs in KC. :yes:


    Oct 4, 2009
  6. WonderSlug

    WonderSlug Well-Known Member

    Sep 1, 2005
    To me, that "INT" last year in Denver really wasn't. Every replay showed the ball coming loose on the ground for an incomplete pass. Unfortunately, the replay equipment mysteriously failed to work at that moment, so the refs had to go with the call on the field, of an INT. Denver scored a TD the next play I believe.

    Were the refs to get that call and the "Hochuli call" right in the first place, instead of losing 39-38, San Diego wins 38-24.
  7. Cheapseats

    Cheapseats The fight for LA is over....LA lost.

    Jul 24, 2008
    Today was a total team effort for the victory by the Chargers against the punchless donkeys. Even if they hadn't choked in the red zone it would be 32 - 17...we still win huge!

    Denver is imploding and won't go to the playoffs unless they win tickets on a (San Diego) radio station. The Chargers are just gaining speed and altitude. I am expecting a STRONG finish from the Bolts this season.

    Now it's time to focus on Kansas City!


    Oct 4, 2009
  9. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Screw Denver. They are who we thought they are.

    Losers. :icon_toast:

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