Chiefs 10 Broncos 6
What a difference three weeks make. When last we saw these two teams on the field they combined to score 78 points in a Broncos runaway win and Todd Haley refused to shake Josh McDaniels hand. On Sunday, the two teams combined for a whopping 16 points, and Todd Haley gave Joshie a big hug.
Although I really don’t want him as my coach anymore, I will give Josh McDaniels this: He excels and finding new and interesting ways to lose games. This week, rather than his usual successful passing game with no running game and a defense that tries to chase it’s opponents from behind as they routinely break off huge plays, he mixed it up. The defense was stout, the running game excelled, and the Broncos completely failed at passing and scoring. Then, at the end, when a victory was possible, he totally abandoned the tremendous run game and kept Kyle Orton throwing despite the fact that the passing game had proven worthless all day and then punted despite being down only 4 points and needing only a few yards for a first down and there were less than three minutes to go. I guess I have to hand it to him, because he got the ball back with fifteen seconds from his own 8, so his strategy worked gangbusters. Quite the innovator, that McDaniels; Jason Whitlock tweeted out after the game that McDaniels is in totally over his head, and I couldn’t agree more.
In a game that was totally winnable for the Broncos, they refused to open it up and take chances, and the result was a forgettable loss to a team that now holds a two game advantage in the AFC West. (By the way, with the Chiefs…Yes, they will almost certainly win their division barring a complete collapse against an easy schedule, but bet heavily against them in the playoffs. It’s free money) The Broncos loss was not unexpected at this point, they lose almost every week anymore. And it wasn’t even that disappointing, as it’s probably better for the Broncos to get a good draft pick by losing. It was just kind of sad. This season is over, and there isn’t much reason to care for the final quarter of the year.
Anyway, let’s break down the game a tiny bit:
Knowshon Moreno: The Georgia product finally lived up to his potential that caused him to be picked in the first round last year. He was punishing opponents and making things happen as he broke big play after big play and also gained the tough yards. The Broncos might have won the game had they stuck with the run game instead of going almost exclusively with the subpar passing game the final few drives. 161 yards on 23 carries is a great day.
Champ Bailey: Dude was a beast making some glorious tackles and plays, and even getting a sack. Makes me sad that this great player is spending his twilight NFL years laboring for such a crappy team.
The Defense: Made a big goal line stand, and held the Chiefs to a miserly 10 points on offense. The Broncos didn’t lose the game on the defensive side of the ball. You hold a team to ten points, you need to win. Especially when you scored 49 points against them the last time you played.
Kyle Orton: Nine completions on twenty-eight attempts. A quarterback rating of 46.3, and an average yards per pass of 4.2. You can’t win with stats like that. Orton has been very good this season, but he looked out of his depth and completely hopeless all day. His accuracy was atrocious, and on top of that, he lost a critical fumble late in the game. Definitely his worst game of the season, and possibly his worst game as a Bronco.
Josh McDaniels: Challenging a 9 yard gain in the first quarter, even if you’re correct, is dumb with the limited nature of the rules instant replay challenges. Then not challenging a potential fumble when your team picks it up and runs it inside the 10 is a big time head-scratcher. But the worst thing he did on the day was punting the ball on 4th and 4 from his own 44 with less than 3 minutes left. You have to go for the 4th down conversion there, you just HAVE to. There isn’t much time left, so even if everything goes perfectly with you punting, you will get the ball back with less than a minute deep in your own territory. The Broncos had 2 timeouts left, so no matter what happened, they needed to stop the Chiefs from getting a first down, and even if the Chiefs stop you and then kick a field goal, you’re still within one score. If you pick up the fourth down, you still have time so that you don’t have to hurry, and you have the ball in a good spot. McDaniels meekly calling for a punt in that scenario was the worst thing he could have done.
The Chiefs could not be less impressive to me. Todd Haley seems like a rabid dog on the sideline, he’s the kind of coach that I’m certain that NFL refs dread having to work with. He just complains about everything and yells and just gets under your skin. He got under MY skin as I was watching on television, and I didn’t even hear what he was saying. I just dislike that guy, and his fake overcompensating hug of McDaniels was just ridiculous. I don’t care about him offending the honor of McDaniels, as I want that guy ridden out of town on a rail; but just the general douchiness of Haley rubs me the wrong way. Between him in Kansas City and Phil Rivers in San Diego, it’s getting to the point where the least objectionable team in the AFC West to me is the Raiders. Egads.
As for the Broncos, I still want them to win games as I watch them, but in retrospect, I’m rather glad they dropped that one. Winning it would have just hurt their draft placement. I feel like the Broncos get one more win. (Next week in Arizona, if you’re curious.) Possibly two if they can overachieve at home the day after Christmas against a lukewarm Houston Texans team, but right now, the best case scenario for the Broncos is a 5-11 season. Hopefully the offseason goes better than this wretched season has. Only a month more, Broncos fans, then we can begin our Fire Joshie vigil! Go Broncos!