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Published on 10/03/2010 at Sun Oct 03 14:53.
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Denver Broncos wide receiver Eddie Royal (19) pushes Tennessee Titans linebacker Stephen Tulloch (55) out of the way in the third quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Joe Howell)

Denver Broncos wide receiver Eddie Royal (19) pushes Tennessee Titans linebacker Stephen Tulloch (55) out of the way in the third quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Joe Howell)

The Denver Broncos didn’t outsmart the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. They didn’t out-muscle the Titans, and they didn’t best them in quickness.

They frustrated them into the fourth quarter.

In a chippy game that saw plenty of contact after the whistle blew in play after play, the Broncos (2-2), led by Kyle Orton‘s relentless air attack, took advantage of the Titans’ (2-2) crucial fourth quarter mistakes and escaped LP Field with an impressive fourth quarter comeback victory, 26-20.

Down 20-16 at midfield with 2:00 to play, the Broncos’ comeback was all but sealed when Titans safety Chris Hope committed pass interference on an end zone ball to Jabar Gaffney. Two plays later, the Broncos had a 23-16 lead.

Then, Marc Mariani fumbled the ensuing kickoff (Marian earlier had a 98-yard touchdown kickoff return), the Broncos recovered, and Matt Prater‘s fourth field goal of the day put the game out of reach with less than 40 seconds to play.

Orton finished with over 300 yards passing for the sixth time in his career, and for the fourth time in the past five games. The Broncos defense held Chris Johnson to 53 rushing yards and Vince Young to 173 yards passing.

Make no mistake — the Broncos deserved this win.

The Titans’ late mistakes made the difference in the end, but they merely offset similar gaffs on the Broncos’ part earlier in the game. The 10 points the Broncos scored in the game’s final two minutes offset 10 points they had no business surrendering earlier.

First, the Broncos allowed the Titans to get into field goal range at the end of the first half after a questionable timeout call from Josh McDaniels. Vince Young, under heavy pressure, came up gimpy with 0:06 left on the clock at midfield, and McDaniels called timeout. The break allowed Young to compose himself, the Titans called a perfect play, and Rob Bironas nailed a 55-yarder to tie the game at 10.

Then, Mariani’s 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown gave the Titans a four-point lead that would last until the fourth quarter’s thrilling finish.

The running game is in need of a defibrillator (17 carries for 8 yards between Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter), but the defense and passing game will keep the Broncos in games. They’ll need more than that over the next two weeks though, as the 2-2 Broncos look to face the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets in back-to-back weeks.

  • Joshua Manning

    Lets recap the game: O-Line SUCKS. Buckhalter and Maroney SUCKS. Special teams SUCKS. Pass rush SUCKS. Passing game GREAT.

  • mikebirty

    GREAT win.
    who's next?

  • Guess

    I'm glad to see your excitement over this win….You as a fan, SUCKS. Go “support” another team. I do recall you as usually being the negative one on this sight, right? Take that shit somewhere else

  • sissy

    Go Marc Mariani! We all support you back home here in Nothern Montana!! GO # 83!!!

  • Hope

    The guy is right and when you right your right no matter if yo like it or not.Crapy win is better then a lost any day.

  • anthony33

    Offensive passing game was good… yes there were sacks, but at least half of those need to be blamed on Orton and they did put it up 50 times. So ease off a bit on the o-line… the real and I mean REAL problem is the COMPLETE LACK of a running game. Not exactly sure where to place the blame as I cannot tell from the laymans eye if it's the o-line or just crappy running backs. That said, our back ARE indeed horrible, but it could be compunded by the line play…. Orton was the leading rusher today with 11 yards. PATHETIC!!!

    Orton… just continues to get better… confidence growing.

    The defense, for the second week in a row, had an excellent game plan. No, they are not putting on much of a pass rush, but you would expect that when the number one goal is to stop Chris Johnson, which they did. Plus, let's face it, they just don't have a dominant pass rusher.

    Special teams are annoying and they will cost us a game or two…. time to fire the ST coach I say… same BS as last year.

    Overall… to win on the road with NO running game… Nice drive in 4th qtr to win it… I'll take it. HUGE win. Unfortunately it does not get any easier in the next 2 weeks so you take 'em when you get 'em.

  • Ejrubin

    anyone know why stanley daniels and not zane beadles was starting at LG today?

  • steeplebomb

    Yahoo! I jumped out of my chair when the refs called that PI on that drive. Awesome.

    The rookies struggle opening up the run game and it shows. There was NOWHERE for anyone to run all day… Not that Maroney helped at all. I liked that trade until I saw him play. Very disappointing. Pass protection looked good at some points and not so good at others. The Titan's blitz packages seemed to overwhelm the edges. That may be a result of the rookies as well if they aren't properly analyzing the looks the D is giving them. As for Ryan Clady. Man, what the f*** is up with him? It absurdly premature but I'm nervous that he's lost a step with that knee injure. Tackles have to be mobile and he was beat more than once that game. He NEVER gets beat. That holding penalty was nearly a drive killer. Not clutch. Not good. Hopefully he gets back on the horse.

    Kyle Orton and the pass attack looks stellar. Wow. Sacked five times and he still puts up all-star numbers. Our receiving core really is the best in the NFL. Unfortunately, our run game is tear-evoking. Abysmal. Ugh. If we can't get that going, every game is going to be a close one. We can't finish! Red zone play was bad again.

    As Kyle noted after the loss to the Colts, my confidence is growing in this team and coaching staff/FO. Josh McDaniels and his system really are the real deal. Even though we aren't putting up huge points, there does seem to be a method to the madness, and that's reassuring. Hopefully the team builds on this and shores up the weaker points.


  • anthony33

    Beadles is the designated 6th o-lineman because of his versitility. He may work his way into the starting line-up after today.

    Hillis: 102 yards on 27 Carries

    Torain: 70 yards on 18 carries

    McD may know the passing game, but he knpws jack shit about running the football. Why in hell did we get rid of Hillis again?

  • Tom9798

    It was a HUGE win! . . . down 20-16 on the opponents field with two minutes left . . . and we scored 10 and won the game!

    How many of you even took a breath the last two minutes . . .

    One can point out all the problems . . . but it is sour consolation to the Titans . . . Go Broncos!

  • Kyle

    Because Beadles has been at right tackle. McDaniels hinted that'd probably be the case since Daniels has the experience the past few weeks.

  • Joshua Manning

    Why do ppl have their comment removed??? If you got something to say then MAN UP!!!!! Don't delete it. SMH!!!! I not afraid to take your comment. Are you a pussy Guess??? And BTW thank you Hope for agreeing with me and not deleting your comment.

  • Jason

    I agree! Go Mariani! Go Havre, MT! Die-hard Bronco fan, but cheering for this kid from my hometown.

  • Ejrubin

    agreed, but the run blocking has been atrocious as well

  • Eric

    If you get a chance to watch the game again keep an eye on what was happening against both Clady and Harris. The Titans would line up a DT and DE right next to each other and then the DT would run into the Guard while the DE would hesitate for just a split second. Then the DE would start his rush and as Clady/Harris would start to shift to engage the DT would grab Clady/Harris and yank them, throwing them off balance and allowing the DE to get around them.

    I saw this happen in the second quarter and had to re-watch in slow motion since I couldn’t figure out how, when Clady tried to shift to engage the DE, he suddenly stopped and his upper body actually dipped in toward the DT while his feet were still moving the opposite direction. I didn’t try to track how often this was happening, but I saw this on at least two of the sacks and it also caused Clady’s holding penalty late in the game when he took the penalty instead of letting Orton get killed. What the Titans were doing was somewhat subtle since it was just a quick jerk usually giving the DE just enough of an advantage to get on Clady’s/Harris’ outside shoulder with a good angle to Orton. I saw Clady/Harris complain to the officials several times after they had this done to them, but to no effect (as I said before it was pretty subtle).

    In the week leading to this game I was somewhat surprised to learn that the Titans had so many sacks from the defensive line, since that is rare in this day and age, but that was a very effective tactic and I think I have a better understanding of why they have so many.

  • Stav

    Uh, does anyone remember how completely ineffective Hillis was in the few times they gave him the rock last year? He played his way off the roster last year. There's no arguing that.

    Let's be honest though, we look like the Patriots West passing offense wise. When Knowshon comes back, they need to use him more ala Kevin Faulk if we can't block efficiently or if he can't move the ball. Screens, shovel passes, if he averages 4-6 yds a reception with about 50+ catches and then can get around 900-1000 yds rushing (big IF right now), then who cares? Obviously we've made the transition to a pass first team with success. If we're able to run the ball just enough to be respected then that's all that's needed.

  • anthony33


    I respect the points you are making. Hills never really got a chance in reality and I don't think the Pats were effective running the ball the last couple of years McD was there either. Fact is Hillis is doing very well… why couldn't we get that out of him?

    Look, I love the passing game and what Orton has done. Here's the problem… I just don't believe there is any possible way to sustain that through the next 12 games. Orton is not the most durable guy and passing fifty plus times game… the odds of getting injured skyrocket.

    I can't see enough by watching the game on TV to know where the problem is. I do know the backs hit the hole gingerly and never attack. I wish Moreno were the answer, but so far he is a bust as far as I am concerned. He's not great at any one thing. He is better than Maroney though… which is not saying much.

  • diggums

    “Fact is Hillis is doing very well… why couldn't we get that out of him?”

    First thing is blocking. Our run blocking schemes suck. We get no lanes running inside, no containment running outside. Our backs are not the fastest nor the strongest, so they cant outrun the defense to the outside and they cant shrug off the big tackles on the inside. Without good blocking schemes we will continue to to do nothing at the run.

    I agree with Stav some good fakes, shovles and screens will be better suited to what players we now have in place. Get our runners in the open field and they do well, have them try and run through 5-6 250+ defenders and they get no where.

  • Josh Temple

    You forgot, run defense… EXCELLENT.

  • Josh Temple

    I saw something similar, but thought the Titans were just doing an excellent job of executing their stunts. I'll have to watch the replay later this week.

  • Darren

    It'd be funny if Broncos put Tebow as FB to replace Buckhalter/Maroney, not as QB for Orton. LOL.

  • Gary_in_SD

    A win on the road in a hostile environment against a descent team, coming from behind in the 4th quarter is nothing to frown upon. It's a great thing and I have nothing bad to say about anyone on the team… Terrific effort and thanks for making my Sunday great!

  • LevonZevon

    Is there some sort of posting length limit? I just went off with a Tolstoy-length comment, but don't see it. Whazzup?

  • LevonZevon

    I think part of the problem on offense is the same as last season. Opponents know that McDaniels is a bit of a control-freak when it comes to bolstering protection instead of taking risks (which, as Mike Martz saw last night, can be advisable when you have weaknesses in protection and cannot run the ball effectively).

    But McDaniels is hobbling plays like the bubble-screen and the ever-so-infrequent pitch-outs by not giving the defense enough to worry about more than 15-yards down-field.

    The result is that their Safeties crowd too close to the line of scrimmage (confident that McD won’t have Orton uncork a deep pass to the wide-outs).

    As the improvisational 50-yard Gaffney P.I. bomb and the gorgeous Lloyd long TD pass weeks earlier demonstrates, Orton has the arm and we have the speed to run this more often.

    And even if it sometimes won’t work, at least it will loosen up a defense. Instead of wasting all those first-downs in sheer futility trying to establish a running game in the first 3 quarters– when the Titans were prepared to snuff out our attempts to run into their 8-man front– we could have passed more on first and kept them guessing more on second-and-short. I understand that McD wanted to establish the play-action threat– especially now that Orton has improved his faux long-handoff mechanics– but we basically were playing with two downs instead of three until the mid-fourth quarter.

    But pushing the deep seam, doesn’t have to mean you are cloning Darryl Lamonica or imitating the 2000 St. Louis Rams. For one, it makes the 18-yard deep comebacks on the left sideline to Lloyd’s back-shoulder a lot easier, since the Safeties have to honor the possibility of a double-move.

    And, when you look around the league’s highlights yesterday, 90% of the TD passes, BETWEEN-THE-HASHMARKS, were to Tight Ends who had the speed or hip-flex to beat the linebackers to a spot 25 yards down-field before the Safeties could rotate.

    Due to McDaniels’ refusal to embrace the pass-catching potential of the Tight End position, we cannot join the other 27 teams since we lack the personnel to use the Tight End for anything but blocking.

    So when defenses see two Tight Ends with Gronkowski and Graham, they know that 95-of-100 times that the ball isn’t coming to them. Since Safeties are primarily tasked with covering the Tight Ends, this allows them to play closer to the line-of-scrimmage and molest our less-and-less effective smoke screens (or are they called bubble-screens, I can never get it straight?).

    That’s why when Indy threw a bubble-screen to Reggie Wayne at JAX yesterday, he didn’t even encounter a defender until he already sauntered past 5-7 yards of the buffer-zone in front of him.

    That’s also why Wink Martindale couldn’t get Brian Dawkins anywhere near the line-of-scrimmage against the Colts (but was able to risk attacking with B-Dawk… when we needed to get the ball back so often in the late 4th quarter at Tenn).

    Luckily, Renaldo Hill was sufficient to cover Bo Scaife and the other Titans TE’s whom Vince Young doesn’t normally look first to anyhow. And kudos to Martindale for shrewdly rolling-the-dice by sending Wolverine to blow up their backfield on runs and primarily passes (when we absolutely couldn’t afford another first-down).

    Anyone who remembers Shannon Sharpe’s decade-and-a-half in Denver– which should be everyone except apparently Josh McDaniels– knows the obvious advantage in having a shifty TE who is too big for a CB and too fast for a Linebacker.

    Chris Cooley, Dallas Clark, Owen Daniels, Antonio Gates, Aaron “available in the fourth-round” Hernandez and many others take advantage of this by pressing the seam and keeping opposing Safties from cheating up (which is what defenses did when they imitated the Ravens game-plan last season after doubling B-Marsh and daring us to find someone else capable of going over-the-top against their pinched-in d-backs… which, ironically, Brandon Lloyd is eminently capable of accomplishing).

    Even when we had Scheffler– who, like many tall Tight Ends, lacks the same hip-flexibility of the above-named targets– McDaniels refused to establish him early by testing the down-field seam.

    Since Daniel Graham and the not-so-coincidentally inactive Quinn– who can’t get on the field even when compared with Rob “I missed two straight blocks” Gronkowski– can’t provide this, the running-game and the bubble-screens will suffer (and mostly due to predictability that opposing Safties will capitalize upon by camping out close to the line).

    Hopefully, we’ll address the TE this off-season (since, as Terrell Davis frequently explains, his best assistance came from Shannon Sharpe’s ability to foil a defense’s attempts to stop him with 8-men-in-the-box). In fact, Shanny’s RB’s Ryan Torain and Clinton Portis benefited similarly yesterday, when Washington established Chris Cooley’s deep-seam dangers against Eagles ILB Stewart Bradley (who looked hapless on the TE pass that went BETWEEN-THE-HASHMARKS and kept their Safties worried about him all day long).

    But, until 2011, I suggest we line-up Demaryius Thomas as a Tight-End by lining him up as an H-Back behind Orton at times (and even sometimes lining him up as a traditional TE adjacent to the Off. Tackle… where he can sometimes be put in motion).

    I thought I saw #88 in the H-back look for two plays in the fourth quarter when Maroney actually made positive yardage on consecutive carries (even though I believe that the latter run was called back for an unrelated penalty).

    If we do this, Safeties and even opposing “mike” linebackers will suddenly have a lot to worry about down-field (where even a young Al Wilson couldn’t keep up with Thomas if he burst straight between the hash-marks for 25-yards after sifting through the line to avoid being bumped). As it stands now, its our best shot to try to take advantage of the middle-of-the-field BEHIND the linebackers (which normally goes un-attacked… since Eddie Royal’s slot-patterns are usually no more than 10-yards past the line).

    And even if a linebacker bumps Bay-Bay to try to throw him off his timing, that’s one less linebacker to respond to the ball-carrier on draw-plays and such.

    Plus, imagine the suddenly wide-open “wild horses” possibilities where Thomas could either receive the direct-snap or get a pitch from the QB (notice– hint, hint– that I said QB and not just Orton… particularly in the red-zone).

    I know that Orton is the starter, Tebow is a QB and that Thomas is a Wide Receiver. But I thought Coach Situational-Football is fond of versatility and unexpected utility.

    Can you imagine the options we’d have if Tebow and Thomas line up behind Orton on a red-zone play this coming week? Suddenly Baltimore has three problems to worry about, since Orton can pass or he can pitch out to either wing.

    In fact– if you really want to get crazy– Orton can pitch it to Tebow who rolls to his left and finds Thomas cutting underneath the wash and against-the-grain for a 5-yard TD pass (on a 3rd-and-goal from the 5-yard line).

    Tebow can either keep it and head for the left pylon, cut-back behind Daniels– if the Ravens over-pursue their gap responsibilities– or pass it to a cutting Thomas or another TE… who starts off blocking before peeling off into unoccupied space (like Daniel Graham).

    If we don’t try this– or a permutation of this where, for example, Thomas and Buckhalter are on one wing behind Orton instead of Tebow– I’m afraid the Ravens will pin their ears back, safe in the knowledge that we can’t run it past Ngata and company. Then they’ll simply attack Orton while forcing nothing more statistically-likely than another Brandon Lloyd high-wire act in the three inches of available space along the rapidly-disappearing sideline.

    We’ve all seen the odds when a lack of space reduces the play-calling options the closer in we get (and, as an announcer yesterday speculated, that 5-yard penalty we got from the 1-yard line may have actually benefited Denver by providing ample space for the Buckhalter TD pass).

    Anyway. Its unorthodox, but I really hope we try inserting Demaryius Thomas as a second TE (instead of basically going 10-on-11 with the useless Gronkowski and Quinn).

    Even if Larsen is healthy enough to play, I still think its worth trying (and, even though Thomas lacks the skills to block effectively, he only has to get the way of a defender…. instead of taking him on head-first).

  • Mavngoose24

    i totally agreewith putting tebow in as a back. but only for wildcat situations. he can throw… andwhen he runs he does it well. it would allow mcdaniels to make the offense a little more confusing to teams like baltimore and the jets. those teams HATE running qb's and wildcat offenses. the ravens are good at stopping the run or pass because they know its coming. but what happens when you have tebow and moreno as tailbacks…. or orton out on the slot and tebow qb and buckhalter and moreno as backs… thats very confusing… unpredictable offense will win the games between the ravens and the jets.

  • Mavngoose24

    i totally agreewith putting tebow in as a back. but only for wildcat situations. he can throw… andwhen he runs he does it well. it would allow mcdaniels to make the offense a little more confusing to teams like baltimore and the jets. those teams HATE running qb's and wildcat offenses. the ravens are good at stopping the run or pass because they know its coming. but what happens when you have tebow and moreno as tailbacks…. or orton out on the slot and tebow qb and buckhalter and moreno as backs… thats very confusing… unpredictable offense will win the games between the ravens and the jets.