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How I Saw It: Broncos Beat Buccaneers 16-13

October 7, 2008

The Slow Start

The Broncos, as is always the case, created a game plan unique to the team they were facing. They were conservative and patient to start the game. The Bucs feed off turnovers and score points when given favorable field position. They threw underneath and attempted to establish a run game, neither worked but it was a better option than trying to force passes against a ball-hawk defense. As long as the defense held up this was the right way to go.

Matt Bryant 33 Yard Field Goal     Broncos 0     Buccaneers 3


On this drive we gave up runs of 14 and 33 yards. It looked like it could be another long day for the defense.

Matt Prater 55 Yard Field Goal     Broncos 3     Buccaneers 3

That kid has a hell of a boot. The offense got going a little bit here, though certainly not to the level as in the first 3 weeks. Cutler ran for his second first down of the game, but a holding penalty brought it back and forced a failed attempt on 3rd and 14. Penalties were a much bigger issue in this game than has been the case for the Broncos this year.

Two Sacks in One Drive

Brian Griese was sacked twice in the ensuing drive, by Williams and Ekuban respectively, Denver had three sacks in this game after having just six in the first four games.

Chop Block Penalty on Andre Hall

I’ve complained about this crap for years. Andre Hall was not guilty of a chop block. At some point before the game Jon Gruden “reminded” the officials that Denver was notorious for the chop block. Therefore the ref was waiting to throw the flag as soon as he saw something resembling it. We don’t chop block more than other teams, but I swear we are the only ones who I’ve seen flagged for it this season.

Matt Prater 40 Yard Field Goal     Broncos 6     Buccaneers 3

After being knocked out of field goal range by penalties, Cutler did a nice job of taking what the defense was giving him and taking the field goal for the lead. I really thought there was a chance that Shanahan would go against his own edict considering this game and not be patient. I think against some teams we would have gone for it on 4th and four from the 22.

Matt Bryant 33 Yard Field Goal        Broncos 6         Buccaneers 6

This was frustrating. We have let teams drive right down the field on us at the end of every stinking half. We also give scores back too often when we get them. Tampa converted two third downs and tied the game right before the half.

Halftime

Our first defensive struggle so far this year. Not exactly our strong suit, but the defense was playing much better, particularly the defensive line. The offense has actually driven the ball twice but been hurt by penalties and had to settle for field goals.

First Drive of Second Half

Again, the Broncos look bad coming out of the half. I don’t know what the issue is here, but they need to figure it out.

Brian Griese Hurt

Big Hit from Champ Bailey. A guy with his speed shouldn’t be able to also lay a quarterback out like that. It’s not fair.

Jay Cutler 10 Yard Touchdown Pass to Brandon Stokley       Broncos 13        Buccaneers 6

This score was set up by two big 16 yard plays. Michael Pittman ran over at least four of his former teammates right up the middle. Tony Scheffler looked great making guys miss on the very next play. The slot-screen to Stokely worked at least four times and was something I haven’t seen us use this year. Shanahan clearly saw something in the tapes that convinced him to use that this week. It also gives opponents something else to think about from here on out.

Matt Prater 27 Yard Field Goal         Broncos 16         Buccaneers 6

Another good long drive by the Broncos. Yes, it stalled in the end, but this is a good defense that brought it’s A game on this day and sustaining long drives is an accomplishment against them.

Marcus Thomas Interception…..Oops

Thomas comes up with a big play and then gives it right back. I know defensive tackles want to make a name for themselves however I can, but for the love of Elway just fall on that. The offense was playing well and we would have gotten the ball near the red zone. A touchdown would have ended the game and even a field goal would have made Garcia and the Bucs play a type of game they’re not comfortable with.

Jay Cutler Incomplete Pass on Third-and-Two

The run game is not what it once was, but all three backs are averaging over five yards per carry. There’s under nine minutes left, just run the ball and at worst the clock keeps moving.

Jeff Garcia 7 Yard Touchdown Pass to Ike Hilliard       Broncos 16     Buccaneers 13

I know they let the Bucs drive and score, but at least the defense didn’t give up a big play and made the Bucs use five valuable minutes to get the score.

Denver Closes the Game

The two completions by Cutler, to Martinez and Scheffler, forced the Bucs to use all of their time-outs. After one more first down, this time on the ground the Broncos were able to enter the victory formation.

Final Thoughts

Good win for the Broncos. We know there will be games where Denver scores 35 points and light up the field. We know there will be games where Cutler throws for 350 TD’s and hits Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal for 100 yards each. What we didn’t know is what they would do in a game where none of that happened. It kind of happened last week, though I still think that game was a fluke. This week they were able to get it done in a totally different kind of game than they’ve played. Marshall and Royal were taken out of the game and Cutler got the ball to Scheffler and Stokely. Just a great win and a good preparer for the game against Jacksonville next week.

For those who think Denver is not a top team in the AFC or that they’ve gotten lucky in the majority of their wins, let me state this case.

Tennesse has 5 wins and the sum total of wins for their opposition is 5.

Buffalo has 4 wins…the teams they’ve beaten also have 4.

Pittsburgh has 4 wins…the teams they’ve beaten have 5.

Denver has 4 wins and the teams they’ve beaten total either 8 or 9 wins depending on what happens in New Orleans tonight.

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