Posted Sun Aug 30th by Monty
Fans hoping for a Jay Cutler goose egg were disappointed Sunday night, as the former Denver Broncos quarterback finished his starting duties in the second quarter with a 98-yard touchdown drive that put the game out of the reach. The Chicago Bears went on to win 27-17 in Week 3 NFL Preseason action.
Of greater concern to the Broncos are the injuries they suffered Sunday. Right guard Chris Kuper, who did not allow a sack in 2008, left the game in the first quarter with what looked like a serious knee injury. Quarterback Kyle Orton also left the game with a finger injury, although his appears less serious. Safety Josh Barrett also left the game, while several other players were nicked up for a few plays at a time.
And while Cutler and the Bears will make all the headlines, the Broncos’ starters didn’t play poorly.
Well, most of them, anyway.
Orton was underrated, playing very well and going 12/16 for 94 yards. He completed passes to seven different receivers en route to a solid 89.5 passer rating. The offensive line, on the other hand, played horribly, and were called for penalties that brought back big Denver plays several times. They had protection problems and troubles in run blocking, but give the Bears credit – their defensive line gave them all they could handle.
The Broncos defense was equally aggressive, not allowing a first down until the Bears’ third possession late in the third quarter. Elvis Dumervil was everywhere, and while not tallying a sack, the team’s pass-rushing outside linebacker was impossible to keep back consistently. During one first quarter Chicago drive, Bears OT Orlando Pace got away with an outrageous hold on Doom in the end zone that should have been called for a safety. (No – seriously. I don’t usual cry about holding non-calls, but Pace held Dumervil for a solid three seconds, in plain sight, two yards from Cutler. The refs either ignored it or weren’t doing their job.) Dumervil was nearly there several other times, constantly getting in Cutler’s grill and even getting called for a late hit in the second quarter.
Safety Brian Dawkins made his Broncos debut tonight and played very well, making aggressive plays and finishing second on the team with six tackles (five solo) and tied for first with two passes defensed. Cornerback Andre Goodman, who got beat twice for touchdowns in Seattle last week, also made his presence known, breaking up a deep Cutler pass and being consistently aggressive in his tackles and coverage.
Because of the Orton injury and Chris Simms‘ ankle injury last week, the fans got their first extended look at rookie QB Tom Brandstater. Brandstater played the entire second half and had several eye-popping plays. He threw a bomb to Brandon Lloyd that might have been a touchdown if McDaniels had thrown the challenge flag, and another deeper pass a few possessions later to rookie WR Kenny McKinley. Like any rookie, he struggled as well, throwing a few knuckleballs as well as a pick that left him with a passer rating in the 60’s, but had Brandstater’s big plays gone to the end zone (both were close) he would have had a much more impressive outing statistically. He passed the eyeball test regardless.
The Broncos play the Arizona Cardinals this Thursday to finish the preseason, then prepare to kickoff the regular season in Cincinatti two Sundays from now, September 13th.