As the final minute of NFL Monday Night Football between the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons ran off the clock last night, the first reaction was to point to the negative aspects of the 27-21 loss. Lost amid the three Peyton Manning interceptions, missed assignments and lost opportunities, and chaotic nonsense of the bush-league referees, there were some positives when cooler heads prevail.
The brightest spot that stood out for the Broncos was the resiliency and the audacity of RB Willis McGahee. McGahee ran 22 times for 113 yards and two scores against a defense that was stingy and downright mean, while just refusing to quit. The way the Falcons schemed and maneuvered to take Manning out of his game made it seem as if nobody would do any damage going down the field. Yet McGahee very quietly weaved in and out of defenders and proved that he has a lot more in the tank than most would give him credit for and almost made the Falcons pay single-handedly.
The run defense, the past few years’ thorn in the side was once again stout and secure. Michael Turner could not get anything going for the duration of the game and it is no wonder just why he needed to go out for a drink after the game. Okay, that was a low blow, but how stupid can a man be? Two weeks in a row, the Broncos run defense has limited the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Falcons to a combined 142 yards and only 5 first downs while forcing a fumble. Pretty impressive against two teams who have been known to rely on the run in the past.
The final aspect of the game that requires special note was the coaching of John Fox and his staff. The mark of a good football team stems from their coach and Fox knew when to challenge the officials and their idiocy and also how to calm his team down and get them focused for a run in the second half. The play calling from Mike McCoy and the defensive schemes from Jack Del Rio were very good from the middle of the third quarter on and gave the Broncos every opportunity to win. Let this be noted now: This coaching staff will do very good things in the weeks to come and all of these kinks will be worked out of the system. That, above all else, will put the Broncos over the edge in winning the AFC West this year over Norv Turner and his San Diego Chargers.
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