John Vandelinder: Elam saves Broncos
October 25, 2007
Craig — It’s World Series time for most, but how can we overlook the Broncos defeating the Pittsburg Steelers on Sunday.
Boy oh boy, isn’t it nice to have a great kicker?
If we didn’t have Jason Elam, we could be 0-6. But, alas, he’s eternally ours, so here we sit at 3-3.
Elam’s 49-yard field goal – his third game winner of the season – ended the Broncos’ three-game slide.
Now, there is nothing I like more than a winning football program but one win after a bye, does not make an automatic Super Bowl birth a given. So let me knock the wheels off of the bandwagon before it’s full.
Jay Cutler looked, well, like Jay Cutler. Moments of brilliance mixed in with some shoddy decision-making. I love the kid’s arm, as long as he throws it to the guys in blue and orange.
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Want to know something crazy? Cutler has yet to play in an NFL game without tossing an interception.
He’s completing more than 66 percent of his passes this season, but the seven touchdowns to eight interceptions is a dead weight he needs to throw overboard, or the Broncos might sink. There is too much talent in the receiving corps to let that happen. The Brandon duo – Marshall and Stokley – are teamed with a stud (although missing as of late due to injury) Javon Walker. Cutler needs to get the ball to his up-and-coming playmakers. Each of them has the ability to turn a game around. Marshall has hauled in a team-leading 33 passes for 439 yards after catching just 20 for 309 as a rookie. The second year player could be a diamond-in-the-rough, if only Cutler can continue to find him in the sea of green turf.
The offensive consistency comes from Buffalo and Tennessee outcast Travis Henry, who has been running hard all year. He’s amassed nearly 550 yards, but only has one touchdown. That’s a projection of almost 1,400 yards and only three touchdowns?
Somebody needs the ball more in the red zone.
That said, the Broncos are now on the right path after Sunday’s victory.
Pittsburgh had allowed an average of less than 10 points per game to opposing offenses and the Broncos dropped 31 on them. Blitzburgh what?
Then again, coach Mike Shanahan had two weeks to prepare for the Steel Curtain. So what. How often do the Broncos not win after a bye-week? Probably more often then Cutler going interception-free.
The defense looked marginally better than in previous weeks.
They gave up four touchdowns.
But watching Tim Crowder rumble down the sideline for a 50-yard fumble recovery for a score, reminded some of the Orange Crush defense of old.
Now, if they could only bottle it. Maybe drink it twice a day.
Sunday marked the Bronco’s first victory in four weeks, and believe it fans, they might actually be right back in the thick of the division race. One half game separates Denver and Kansas City from the top in the AFC west. With 12 games remaining, this division is still totally up for grabs.
Sure, it’s the weakest division in the NFL, but a division title is a division title, right?
Momentum plays a pivotal role in sports. If Sunday’s victory is any indication of what is to come.
The Broncos are going to the Super Bowl.
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
Next up for Shanahan and company is the Brett Favre show Monday night.
Nothing like having to face America’s sweetheart, in front of, well, America. If Sunday proved the Broncos are for real, Monday should show if Sunday was for real.
Green Bay is off to a torrid start, compiling a record of 5-1, as well as coming off a bye-week.
Denver may be without Henry (bruised ribs), Dre’ Bly (shoulder) and Tony Scheffler (ankle).
Champ Bailey and Walker are already on the mend, so when playing against the Pack shorthanded, it would be reasonable not to expect the spectacular from the Broncos.
A victory against the Pack, combined with a Chief’s loss puts the Broncos at the forefront of the division.
A division, with one team over .500.
Will the Broncos be the second?