Whatever you do, don't pinch me. If this is a dream, I don't want to wake up. Not even in my wildest dreams did I imagine before the season started that the Broncos would head into their bye week undefeated. 6 and OH MY GOODNESS! Six times they have taken the field (In five different uniforms, by the way) and six times they have left the field victorious. This isn't a bandwagon, it's a magic carpet ride, hop on it. Josh McDaniels will be your magic carpet captain. Yes, it's safe to say I have completely turned the corner on these Broncos, no matter how you look at it. These guys are good. What can brown do for you? It can take the Broncos to back to back gigantic wins, that's what! The Broncos are now 2-0 in the retro uniforms this season, and they haven't lost in Vertically Striped Socks in 48 years!
Chapter six of this crazy season unfolded on a beautiful October night in San Diego. In a game that was wild and woolly in the first half, the Broncos rallied in the second half, and then put the thing on ice for a dynamic 34-23 win. The crazy first half included three kick return touchdowns, one by San Diego and two by the Broncos. Eddie Royal became just the sixth player in NFL history to return a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns.
Also of note was the way the Broncos continued their trend of putting the clamps down on the opponent in the second half. For the first time in five games the Broncos were unable to pitch a second half shutout, but they came about as close as possible. A field goal on the first possession of the third quarter the Chargers came away with three points, but that was it. Kyle Orton was again very solid in the second half, leading the team to outscore the Chargers 17-3 in the second half. The Broncos OWN the third and fourth quarters this season. In the six games combined they have outscored their opponents 76-10, yeah, that's pretty good.
Positives from the game:
Pretty much everything: Seriously, the team played great. There are a few tiny things to nitpick, which I will get to shortly, but overall, there isn't much I can complain about. They played like contenders today, and I dug it. Let's get specific, though.
Eddie Royal: Pretty odd that a receiver who didn't catch a single pass could make one of the biggest imprints on the team of any player, but it's true. That's what happens when you start taking kicks to the house. Credit some solid blocking as well, but Eddie was the man in the first half. He was the main reason the Chargers only led by three at the half.
Once again...lets give it up for the defense: While they looked a bit sketchy in the first half, Mike Nolan's group appear to be masters of second half adjustments. They had Phillip Rivers off balance almost the entire second half, and they were coming from every which way. Rivers was sacked five times, he fumbled the ball three times (only lost one), and he was knocked on his can all night. The defense was swarming, but being responsible to their coverages. It was another glorious defensive effort.
Correll Buckhalter: His stats were pedestrian, but he made the most of his opportunities. He ran with authority, and was tearing through the defense like a hot knife through butter. His one miscue was putting the ball on the ground, but thankfully that didn't hurt the Broncos because of our next hero...
Sure it LOOKS like this is a photo of Knowshon, but really, I'm showcasing Ben Hamilton's great block!
Ben Hamilton: You're darn right I'm putting a guard on the list. He recovered Buckhalter's fumble, and he and the rest of the Offensive Line gave Kyle Orton eons of time to find open receivers. You gotta give the O Line love, as they are playing excellent ball right now.
Tony Scheffler: Tony made a ridiculous acrobatic catch for a touchdown in the third quarter as well as a 52 yard pass that was a short out pattern that he turned into the play that pretty much clinched the game. That was a gigantic game (6 catches, 101 yards, and a touchdown) for the Bronco tight end, and he deserves a well earned pat on the back.
Negatives from the Game:
The Punt Coverage: That Darren Sproles punt return touchdown felt completely deflating.
It seemed easy to imagine at that point that the Chargers were going to do what they did last year to the Broncos and bury them in a blowout loss. Thankfully this team has a ton of heart and spine, and refuses to fall apart, even when the momentum is squarely against them.
Too much blitzing in the first half: I'm not going to second guess Mike Nolan too much, because he has the defense playing inspired football, but he was a little blitz wacky in the first half. There was a play in the first quarter on a third and nine that seven guys came blitzing, the Chargers picked it up long enough to allow Rivers to find a wide open Malcom Floyd for what could have gone for a touchdown without a Champ Bailey shoestring tackle. I like that Nolan is okay with blitzing some, but sending 7 guys seems like asking the offense to score on you. Especially on a third and 9, it seems crazy.
The pregame scuffle: Macho posturing is retarded, and can only lead to bad things like freak injuries or stupid suspensions. They should just cut that crap out.
And now, a word about the uniforms:
I'm okay with the road version of the Vertically Striped Sock uniforms, but I gotta say I enjoy the home ones much more. The biggest problem is that the brown and white socks don't really jive too well with the yellow stripe on the pants. If they wore the same socks as they wore at home, I think it'd look better, but all in all, they looked pretty good. My buddy Doug pointed out the thing I thought was the funniest about the helmets...Kyle Orton's looked like an 8 ball in billiards. It was great.
That said, now that they have broken out the brown and yellow to relive history, lets put those things back in mothballs. I love them. Obviously since I have based my entire online presence on those socks, I have a sweet spot in my heart for them. However, the fact remains that although they are pretty cool, they are also amazingly ugly. So ugly it's cool can work for a few weeks, but there is no need to drag it out.
Oh, a word about those Charger retro uniforms as well...THOSE ARE SO BEAUTIFUL! Seriously, San Diego should just go back to those full time. Those are tied with the Yankees for the best uniforms in all of sports, the powder blues and the white helmets with the numbers on the side are just amazing. If the game was decided based on who had the more attractive getup, the Chargers would have won in a landslide. Thankfully, the games are decided by who scores the most points, which means the Broncos take home the W.
To say I'm on board with the Broncos and Josh McDaniels now is an understatement of massive proportions. In a month and a half, I have gone from fearing a 4-12 season to expecting them to make the playoffs. There is still a lot of season left, but the Broncos hopefully have silenced the doubters. They hold a three and a half game lead in the division, and things are looking better than I ever could have hoped. My mind can barely wrap around the fact that the Broncos are undefeated and, but the fact remains this team is unbelievably legit. Enjoy it, Denver!