Posted Sun Oct 31st by Josh Temple
In this season’s annual international game neither team gave the English crowd much to root for or get excited about. The Broncos and Niners traded possession three times before the “home team” was able to put together a steady drive ending up with a field goal by former Bronco Joe Nedney. The Broncos were unable to sustain drives throughout the entire half, the running game was anemic with Knowshon Moreno receiving the bulk of carries. While Moreno was able to show some bright spots hitting holes and getting chunks of yardage it was the 49ers Patrick Willis keeping Denver’s 2nd year back from taking anything into “the next level.” Willis finished the day with 8 tackles and one assist.
The second quarter was a repeat of the first in which the game became a punters duel. Oddly enough, it was the kickers and punters that were cheered by the Wembley crowd. Neither team could score and Denver’s offense could not gain traction whether it was on the ground, abandoning the run game for the pass, trick plays, or Tebow Wildhorse calls. With 49er quarterback Troy Smith getting his first start you got the feeling that if the Broncos offense could take the lead and make the young QB play from behind it would benefit Denver all way to a win. The first quarter would end with no new points, San Francisco up 3 to 0.
The third quarter saw Denver’s heavily worked defense come out and make a critical stop to give the ball to Kyle Orton and the offense. This time their hard work would not go unrewarded. From the Denver 28 the offense called a fake pitch right for Moreno with Orton stepping back and finding Brandon Lloyd for a 71 yard reception down the middle over rookie safety Taylor Mays. Lloyd appeared to take it to the house until the ref of all people cut off his line to the end zone allowing the defender to make a tackle at the one. The Broncos hurried Tim Tebow onto the field for a tackle eligible play in which the rookie QB power rushed the ball between the left tackle and guard for his second NFL score.
The 49ers would follow up with a sustained drive that ended with Nedney hitting the right upright to keep Denver ahead by four. The opponents would trade failed drives again and matching punts before the biggest momentum swing play in the game followed a strong 25 yard pass to Lloyd.
A call for a flea flicker was sent into the huddle. Knowshon Moreno took the dive play up the middle, flipped the ball back to Orton who turned the trickery into a 38 yard touchdown pass to Jabar Gaffney. Yellow on the field. “Illegal chop block on number 27.” After looking at the replay it was clear Moreno’s “block” was anything but illegal. He pitched the ball back to Orton and basically fell down and rolled into an unblocked defender’s legs. Nothing malicious, no flag should have been thrown. The CBS annoucers agreed whole heartidly. The biggest play of the game negated on a bad call.
Denver would push on, especially rookie Demaryius Thomas who turned a short pass into a 33 yard gain down the left sideline. The Broncos red zone offense would peter out and Matt Prater would stick the 32 yard field goal. Troy Smith would use tight end Delanie Walker in place of injured Vernon Davis twice on the following drive before calling his own number for a 1 yard touchdown run. Denver’s offense would go back to its stumbling ways and the 49ers would respond with another touchdown. Michael Crabtree beat the still hurt Andre Goodman down the left sideline for a 28 yard touchdown reception giving the Niners 14 unanswered points. Goodman limped for a good part of the game and looked as if he had no business on the field.
The Broncos following drive was miserable as Orton coughed up a fumble to defenders trying to pick up a first down on a rush. The Broncos would fight back later in the quarter with a deep pass to Lloyd and successful drive capped off with a short touchdown pass from Orton to Lloyd once again. Prater missed the extra point way left on a weird looking play. Denver’s defense did their job and held the 49ers to a three and out. D.J. Williams kept his form making another huge backfield tackle on Frank Gore. The middle linebacker continued his campaign for making this year’s pro bowl.
Enough time on the clock for Denver to make a comeback. A deep punt to Eddie Royal that he broke all the way down the right sideline for paydirt. Unfortunately it was coming back on a block in the back. Many onlookers would cry foul once again, however the replay would clearly show Jarvis Moss clipping the 49er defender. The Broncos would still put together a last minute drive until Kyle Orton ala Jay Cutler would make a deep throw off his back foot down the left sideline to Jabar Gaffney, it became an easy interception for safety Shawntae Spencer. Game over.
Many fans will say the Broncos lost the game due to the refs, and while they didn’t help all the blame cannot be placed on the zebras. The call on Moreno was a back breaker, it was a bad call and deflated the Broncos in which they allowed 14 unanswered points to a struggling 49er team. The team did not give up like last week, however their ineptitude on offense in the first half kept them from a much needed victory.