Posted Mon Aug 16th by Ian Henson
What we really saw: As many who have observed training camp have seen, the Denver Broncos are undeniably Kyle Orton’s team.
The Broncos won the toss and elected to receive the ball, rookie Perrish Cox was back to receive the kick. Cox has been a much hyped kick/punt returner in Dove Valley and this would be most fan’s first opportunity to see the young man return– and he didn’t disappoint.
Cox got the ball on the Broncos’ four yard line and got it out to the twenty-eight. An impressive return given that, had he made it past the tackle that got him, the play would have been an immediate touchdown for a special teams corps that must improve if the Broncos are going to see any type of run towards the playoffs this season.
Orton took over from there, hitting wide receiver Jabar Gaffney for a gain of 31 yards. Immediately following that up with a short pass to Lance Ball and an eight yard completion to tight end Marquez Branson. Ball started at running back and Branson at tight end. Fans also got to see a split back formation with Orton under center; which had both Branson and Ball lining up in the backfield. Don’t get too excited though, fullback Spencer Larsen remained in Denver and congratulations as he and his wife gave birth to their third child.
Following the Branson completion Orton went for gold throwing deep to Gaffney, but ultimately coming up just a little short on the connection. Another Orton incompletion to tight end Daniel Graham was negated by a Cincinnati Bengals penalty for roughing the passer. Wasting no time Orton connected to wide receiver Eddie Royal for a touchdown.
Royal’s touchdown was highlighted by his after the catch quickness that allowed him to go untouched into the end zone, splitting Bengals’ tacklers down the middle and diving sideways between two as he cradled the ball into his midsection.
It wasn’t all great things from the Broncos first team however, as the defense gave up a 21-yard run to running back Cedric Benson at the 9:41 mark in the first quarter. Outside linebacker Robert Ayers was manhandled by a Bengals’ left tackle, as was middle linebacker Akin Ayodele by a Bengals’ guard and safety Darcel McBath (in for Brian Dawkins, who did not suit) over pursued as he ran to fill the gap. Benson busted through the empty air and charged forward before being caught by Wesley Woodyard from the side.
The Broncos were able to shut Benson down from there as Champ Bailey kept Terrell Owens non effective and the Broncos special teams was able to keep the Bengals from scoring on the resulting 41-yard field goal attempt (with a little luck).
Orton’s second possession led to a Britton Colquitt punt.
On the following Bengals possession Bailey split time covering Owens on one incomplete pass and Chad Ochocinco on the next incomplete pass. Proving that even with all of the money Darrelle Revis will end up getting from the New York Jets, he still won’t be the best corner back in the NFL until Bailey either loses a step or retires.
Back with possession Orton threw three incomplete passes, one just happened to be an incompletion to Gaffney that led to a pass interference call and a 40-yard Broncos’ gain. Then it became the Orton and Brandon Lloyd show, Orton called Lloyd’s number on three of the next five plays ending on a six-yard touchdown pass.
The Bengals’ first team offense did score, but it didn’t happen until the Broncos second string defense took the reigns. Benson scored on a one yard touchdown that was preempted by a Carson Palmer drive that started on the Bengals’ 22 yard line. The Bengals offensive surge should be accredited to a number of missed tackles and blown coverages that made the Broncos’ second string look like what they were; second string players.
Brady Quinn took over for the Broncos and J.T. O’Sullivan took over for the Bengals and it was a pretty quiet second quarter outside of a ball that Quinn fumbled and a Bernard Scott 48-yard burst that saw him pushed out of bounds by Nate Jones (a new Bronco whom Denver acquired during free agency).
At this point Quinn had not completed a pass; then he did to Bengals’ corner back David Jones who returned the interception 24-yards for a touchdown.
Quinn got it together on the next series completing a pass to Brandon Stokley for six before introducing the NFL to Matthew Willis who pulled a 21-yard pass interference penalty and then caught a 24-yard pass from Quinn (in which Willis drew another pass interference call, but the Broncos ultimately declined). Quinn looked to be clicking finally leading Denver’s two-minute offense effectively up until that point; before nearly catching his own pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. The Broncos settled on their only field goal of the night a 28 yarder by Matt Prater to end the half.
Cincinnati started the second half on their own 20 and O’Sullivan struck with a short pass to Scott that went 48 yards and left both Joe Mays and Darcel McBath injured following a collision between the two. Mays returned, but I’m not positive that McBath ever did. The Bengals ended up with a field goal for their efforts.
Quinn stayed at quarterback as the Broncos began their first possession and connected with Willis again for 30 yards (Willis led Denver in reception yards with 54). The Broncos ultimately ended up punting as did the Bengals on the following possession. Rookie returner Perrish Cox ended up muffing the punt and the Bengals regained possession on the Broncos’ 12.
Enter Tebow: You could hear the roaring mixture of boos and cheers as Tim Tebow stepped onto the playing field for his first snap as an NFL player
and as an observer it was hard to not notice that things are going to be different in Denver for awhile. Tebow opened up with an incomplete pass to Branson, a hand off to Bruce Hall and a deep pass to Willis that bounced off the young receiver’s hands. Had Willis caught the pass Tebow’s position on the depth chart would have been called immediately into question as his second pass in the NFL would have likely gone for six points.
At this point the Broncos defense consisted predominantly of third string players and those fighting to make the team; as did the Bengals. Cincinnati, led by Jordan Palmer, had a long drive and ended up scoring a touchdown on a one-yard run making the score 33-17 Bengals.
On the next series the Tebow led offense of the Broncos was flashy at some points (a 21-yard completion from Tebow to rookie Alric Arnett), but mostly ineffective as Tebow worked exclusively from the shotgun before pressure led to a Tebow fumble and ultimately a touchdown which Josh McDaniels protested and overturned. The pressure was a common theme for the Bengals defense and the Broncos offensive line could not hold for longer than a moment or two as they practically begged for Tebow to scramble. Yet the rookie (true to his teachings, likely) stayed in the pocket and tried to make plays.
Tebow was given one final possession with 1:09 left in the fourth quarter and the ball on his own 27. A 17 yard connection to Hall, followed by an incompletion led to a 33 yard completion to Britt Davis and a pass in the end zone to Branson. The catch was ruled incomplete and a booth review confirmed, but from the one review that I saw it looked as if Branson had actually caught the ball. This left the game clock with three seconds and the Broncos had the ball on the Cincinnati seven.
This is when Broncos fans got a taste of things to come, I do believe that Tebow had every intention of passing the ball, but wild horses can’t be broke– with no one open Tebow called his own number and ran the ball in Elwaylike fashion for a touchdown.
McBath, who was playing for Dawkins did not have a fracture, but left the stadium with his right thumb heavily wrapped and his arm in a splint.
McDaniels also apparently broke a toe when a chair fell on his foot in the locker room.