Posted Sun Dec 14th by Ian Henson
Going into the game not knowing whether or not they had clinched the AFC West did not turn out to matter for the Denver Broncos. It wasn’t Smash and Dash so much as just smash. A Champ Bailey-less Broncos proved that for every two-steps forward, there may be three steps back. With the return of D.J. Williams Denver’s defense still couldn’t promote much of a pass rush on an underwhelming Carolina Panthers passing attack.
Carolina’s wide receiver Steve Smith went on to catch 165-yards on nine receptions for one touchdown. Covered predominantly by Dre Bly, Smith proved that Denver was miles from home. With no pass-rush, Carolina’s Jake Delhomme dictated the game as Denver defense handed yet another mediocre quarterback a career game.
Late, during garbage time the Broncos did seem to develop a running game, trading hand-offs between P.J. Pope (seven runs for 51-yards) and Tatum Bell (seven runs for 43-yards), but it was too little, too late. Jay Cutler finished atrociously, coming off of his Player of the Week performance against Kansas City to finish 21/33 for 172-yards one touchdown and one interception. Brandon Marshall wasn’t much help with five catches for 48-yards despite 14 targets.
During the game the San Diego Chargers went on to beat the Kansas City Chiefs. With the Denver loss to Carolina the Broncos must win against the Buffalo Bills next Sunday to win the division.