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Published on 10/05/2008 at Sun Oct 05 17:41.
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Nic Clemons tackles Warrick Dunn (Reuters)
Nic Clemons tackles Warrick Dunn for a loss (Reuters photo)

It wasn’t the type of game you would expect from offensively-minded Head Coaches Mike Shanahan and John Gruden. Yards were scarce, points scarcer, and field goals and punts were traded at will. Ultimately, the Broncos defense silenced their critics, and the Denver Broncos (4-1) sent the Tampa Bay Buccaneers home with a 16-13 throttling at INVESCO Field at Mile High.

With the victory, the Broncos move to 4-1 on the season, regaining their two-game lead on the San Diego Chargers in the AFC West, who fell to 2-3 in Miami on Sunday.

Quarterback Jay Cutler finished with a decent 23/34 for 227 yards and one touchdown (no interceptions). It was his most pedestrian outing of the season but not unexpected against a furious Tampa Bay defense. The key was the lack of turnovers – the Broncos offense committed zero – while hustling and sacking Tampa Bay’s two quarterbacks all game long.

It was the type of tight, controlled game many Broncos fans were clamoring for after the messy game last week in Kansas City, and obviously it was just what the doctor ordered.

Familiar faces played a big part in this game (John Lynch not withstanding), with Michael Pittman bulldozing through his former teammates. Broncos All Pro CB Champ Bailey ruined QB Brian Griese‘s homecoming, knocking the former Bronco out of the game.

Ebenezer Ekuban, D.J. Williams, and Elvis Dumervil all notched sacks, while Nic Clemons had another that was called back due to a penatly. Fellow DT Marcus Thomas came up with a big interception that would have sealed the game early if he hadn’t fumbled it away a few steps later. That doesn’t even tell the tale enough – the defensive line was in the quarterback’s face all game long. Opposing running backs broke a few plays, but for the most part were stuffed at or near the line of scrimmage. This defense stepped up – holding a Top 10 offense to 13 points.

The offense struggled to get going, but had a few nice drives in the fourth quarter to seal the game. What a win, go Broncos, on to Jacksonville!

  • DaveMoore

    Today gives me the best feeling after a win all season, to be honest I had been seriously questioning the defense in our two wins against SD and NO, and last week in KC. Today’s game gives me great hope that the defense can be good enoguh to allow the offense to win the games for them. It would be nice to put it all together in one game (against decent opponents, i.e. not the Raiders :P), and then I think we would really announce ourselves as contenders this year. All in all, delighted with the win, I think this could be a turning point we look back on later in the season, the difference between 3-2 and no momentum and 4-1 and a 2 game division lead is HUGE!

  • Kyle

    You’re totally right DM – thanks for your input on the live blog too. Ton of fun.

    I feel more confident about this team in January now than I have all season. They played calm, smart football on offense and let the defense win the game – who’d have thought?!

  • ryan k

    Any word an Eddie?

  • Kyle

    Not yet…

  • Kyle

    Just spoke to someone from the Broncos who said it’s a sprained left ankle, which we already knew from the game. We’ll know more later in the week, I imagine.

  • merc22

    how long is a sprained ankle last, week or 2?
    and whats the word on D.Jack?

  • Kyle

    High ankle sprains can last longer than that…

    DJack practiced this week. If Royal’s out, and this is totally preliminary but I imagine he will be, I expect #82 to suit up.

  • Delia Montopoli

    Hey Kyle
    Just happy that Broncos won today. Even happier that San Diego lost

  • T-Money

    Sold win. We still cant run the Prevent Defense but we should never have to. All in all I really liked what i saw. It just shows you that Marshal and Royal are not the only threats in the offense. I was a little bummed that it wasn’t a blow out, but I’ll take a win.

  • GreasyQtip

    Today was the tits for broncos fans

  • BroncoFan18

    The defense certainly played well today…much improved. Now let’s just get the offense and defense to play well in the same game…just imagine what the scoreboard would look like…

  • rcsodak

    Isn’t Jax playing IN denver?
    Great game. It’s nice to see cutler throwing to the correct colored jerseys….for a minute there, I thought maybe he was color blind.
    Hopefully young, ekuban, sheff (groins) & royal are a go for next weekend. They’ll be needed!

  • mikebirty

    that was a very satisfying win. As bad as the d were last week they were equally good this week. I thought EK was very good. He can’t be far off winning a starting job. All the d line finally came to the party. Better late than never. The linebackers were everywhere and the best compliment i can think of is that i don’t remember the safeties or champ having to make too many last ditch plays. Although the only down side was that Nate kept his helmet on.

    Same again next week. I think the schedule has been pretty kind in the fact that we’ve got these two games next to each other given that they’re pretty similar teams. Here’s hoping for pretty similar performances!

  • Zac

    No worries mikebirty, I recall Nates helmet falling off at least once!

  • Kurt

    It was a good win. I think the play of the D-line was the difference. Seemed like we were atacking more than reacting and that kept their offense off-balance. With the exception of the Bucks last drive, they seemed to get more pressure on the QB and everything else fell into place. On their last drive for a touchdown, the line looked tired and did not get much pressure and Tampa drove down the field a-la KC, NO, and SD; very familiar. The question I have is why now? Was it just attitude or are the defensive players just now getting the scheme (what, 3rd one in 3 years) and used to playing with each other? I sure hope the same guys show up next week. Same with the special teams coverage units. I’ll admit I did not see the whole game but from what I saw, that might be the best game from them in a long time.

  • bronconinja

    It was about time the D stepped up!!! They have way to many big time players to play that poorly for that long. Hopefully this turns it around and they will be a Force if not top 3 AFC teams to beat. But my only question is when a RB will get 20 or even 15 carries in a game. I remember when the Broncos would get a lead and TD would come in and destroy team hopes with 5 yd run after 5 yd run…. I know I know we no longer have #30 but Selvin is ave a leauge best 5.7 ypc and Hall is not far behind with 4.5 ypc not to mention the beast pittman who wants to stop him behind that Denver O-line??? I love when Cutlers hit Marshall and Eddie but I love more when they have 2 score lead and dont let it slip away. Either way they are still gonna turn heads on their way to the playoffs!!!