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Broncos Mtnman
10-23-2007, 02:15 AM
I have to admit, when the opening kickoff went out of bounds, allowing the Steelers to start their first drive of the game on the 40 yard line, I had this "here we go again" feeling.

And when the Steelers marched right down the field on that drive to score an easy touchdown, the feeling only got stronger.

But, thanks to a defense that finally figured out how to stop the run, along with a second year QB with only 10 games experience playing the best game of his short career against the #1 defense in the league, the Broncos not only found a way to recover from this auspicious start, they found a way to win a game when no one gave them a chance.

After the blowout loss against the Chargers, the coaching staff made a commitment to use the bye week to focus on the little things that have prevented the defense from playing to their potential. It apparently worked, as the defense held the AFC's leading rusher to under 100 yards, while surrendering only 119 total net yards.

This, along with the absence of Champ Bailey, would put additional pressure on the pass defense. In weeks prior, there was no challenge to the Broncos in this area due to the inability to stop the run. With their best defensive player out, the Broncos would rise to the challenge.

DJ Williams would get the first interception by a linebacker in over 2 years, Dre Bly would separate his shoulder on another, and a sack of Big Ben would result in a fumble which would be returned for the first defensive touchdown of the season, thanks to rookie DE Tim Crowder.

As I mentioned above, the defense wasn't the only bright spot of this game.

Second-year quarterback Jay Cutler, who took over the starting job late last season, shredded the Steelers defense on his way to a career high 106.7 passer rating, career best 75.9 completion percentage, and even a career long rush. In addition, Cutler threw 3 TD passes, all in the Red Zone.

"Instead of going up a notch, he went up two notches," Shanahan said of Cutler's progression through the team's first six games. "He played the No. 1 defense in the NFL, found a way to move the ball in the fourth quarter, found a way to win. You're hoping your quarterback does for you."


This week's 4 downs....

Most Glaring Weaknesses

1st - Seal the deal. The defense demonstrated great improvement in pressuring the QB, but Big Ben had too many escapes, resulting in big plays. When you are successful in getting into the backfield, you need to get the QB.

2nd - Safety play. Two of the Steelers' touchdowns were pass plays where the safety had the coverage. While Lynch and Ferguson can lay down hammer when they make a tackle, they are probably the weakest link in the secondary when it comes to pass protection.

3rd - Cutler's interceptions. While Jay had a career game, his trend of consecutive games with an INT needs to come to an end.

4th - Running game. When you take out Cutler's big scramble, the Broncos only netted 49 rushing yards.


The Good Things

1st - Red Zone and Goal-To-Go. One of the greatest concerns of the season so far this season was the offense's inability to score in the Red Zone. The Broncos had four trips to the Red Zone against the staunch Steelers defense, and managed a touchdown on all of them. Two of those trips were goal-to-go.

2nd - 3rd down conversions. The Broncos converted 7 out of 10 third downs. What was even more impressive about this was that four of them were 3rd and 12 or more.

3rd - Offensive and Defensive line. Hey, they don't call them "Blitzburg" for nothing. The Steelers will blitz your brains out. With the revamping of the offensive line due to injuries, they did an excellent job of protecting Cutler. On the defensive side, the line provided consistent pressure resulting in four sacks and the fumble mentioned above.

4th - Cutler and the Receivers. With the absence of Walker and an effective running game, Tony Scheffler and Brandon Stokley stepped up big, each snagging a TD pass. They were also Jay's favorite targets on several 3rd and long situations. When you add Baby TO, this trio accounted for nearly 200 yards receiving.


There were injuries to several key players; including Bly (separated shoulder), Scheffler (foot) and Henry (ribs). It will be a few days before the Broncos know how bad these are, but they provide reason for concern.

In the CBS pregame show, Dan Marino GUARANTEED that the Steelers would beat the Broncos. Of course he was being a homer, but his prediction was shared by most.

Well... not EVERYONE felt that way. In my week 7 pics, I had the Broncos winning by 3. So take that all you naysayers.... :eviltongue:

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10-23-2007, 02:27 AM
Thanks for the report. It was pretty good.

Except that, how could Marino be a "homer" here? He was a Miami Dolphin.
You didn't mean Bradshaw, did you?

Also, it was my understanding that Scheffler's injury was a leg, not a foot.

And I don't believe Cutler's INTs are a terribly big concern. You can go back
and look at the first couple years of the likes of Elway and Manning and see
that Cutler doesn't have the corner in interceptions.

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Broncos Mtnman
10-23-2007, 02:29 AM
Thanks for the report. It was pretty good.

Except that, how could Marino be a "homer" here? He was a Miami Dolphin.
You didn't mean Bradshaw, did you?

Also, it was my understanding that Scheffler's injury was a leg, not a foot.

And I don't believe Cutler's INTs are a terribly big concern. You can go back
and look at the first couple years of the likes of Elway and Manning and see
that Cutler doesn't have the corner in interceptions.

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Marino attended college in Pittsburgh. By his own admission, he's a Steeler fan when the Dolphins aren't involved.

omac
10-23-2007, 02:35 AM
Great article, broncos_mtnman! :salute: Also, very nice touch on the subtle info, like the one on the 3rd downs being 12 yards or more, etc. Nice lead-in to the Shanny quote too. Very publishable, if that's even a word. :cheers:

I didn't expect Denver's rushing to come up big, as the Steelers have one of the best rush defenses, and our team hasn't fared well in rushing against the other 2 strong rush defenses we faced. Jay and The Replacements had to come up big in the passing game, and they did, but we knew they could do that.

The defense playing this well against the #2 rushing team in the league; they played spectacular! :beer:

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10-23-2007, 02:36 AM
Marino attended college in Pittsburgh. By his own admission, he's a Steeler fan when the Dolphins aren't involved.

Okay, thanks. I wasn't aware of that.

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