For eight months, the Denver Broncos had to sit back and wait –wait for their chance to redeem themselves after such a promising season went up in smoke on a cold January day in Denver. The Broncos had to sit and wait while watching the Baltimore Ravens march on to win the Super Bowl. The Broncos had to sit and wait through a tumultuous offseason marred by arrests and suspension.
Finally, opening night arrived.
And, they had to wait some more. Lightning storms delayed the kickoff for close to 40-minutes. And then … for at least one night, it washed away the stink that plagued them for months.
For at least one night, the wait was over.
What more can you say about Peyton Manning? His seven touchdown passes tied an NFL record, and all the pundits will be sure to point out that Manning is on pace to throw for 7,392 yards and 112 touchdowns. It’s not going to happen, but Manning is in for a special season.
The Broncos receiving core is the deepest in the NFL, and it’s not even close. Thomas squared (Julius and Demaryius) each had over 100-yards receiving and a pair of scores. Julius Thomas was making his first career start at tight end for Denver, and looks to be the Broncos’ best receiving tight end since Shannon Sharpe.
Wes Welker caught nine balls — two for scores, and looks like he is everything as advertised. Andre “Bubba” Caldwell even got in on the act with a TD grab of his own.
No Von Miller? No Elvis Dumervil? No problem. The Broncos racked up five sacks against Joe Flacco, and seemed to be in his grill most of the second half. Shaun Phillips tallied three sacks and was a force coming off the edge.
“I took it personally,” Phillips told Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post. “I have over 70-something sacks in my career. What am I? Some bum or something?” Well if Phillips can perform like that, the Broncos will be very formidable once Miller returns.
Terrance Knighton and Kevin Vickerson were eating up space and blockers like they were on a buffet menu. The two tackles won’t really show up on the stat sheet in a way that was indicative of their play, but they were both monsters for Denver, allowing speedy linebackers Danny Trevathan and Wesley Woodyard to make plays all over the field.
Woodyard was just going to be a filler at middle linebacker. Not anymore. Woodyard has the speed and instincts required for the middle and was all over the field last night. The Broncos have found their new middle linebacker. The absent Champ Bailey wasn’t missed. Chris Harris, Tony Carter and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were fantastic.
Welker was sent in for a fair catch instead of the fumble-prone Trindon Holliday. It was ironic that Welker proceeded to muff the punt, giving the Ravens a first and goal.
As good as the Broncos’ offense looked, the run game was sorely lacking; and although they may get by in the regular season this way, it won’t work come January. They need a remedy, and quick.
After what looked like a pick six, Trevathan celebrated a little too early and dropped the ball before entering the endzone. This could have been huge if the game was close. Making matters worse for Trevathan was that dropped ball caused Raven defenders to roll under Woodyard, causing an injury. There’s no word on the severity just yet, but you know Travathan feels bad — he and Woodyard are best friends.
QUOTE OF THE GAME
“I just read the quarterback and through film study I knew what they were going to run,” Rahim Moore told the Denver Post’s Ben Hochman referring to a huge hit on Dallas Clark. “(The hit) felt great, man. All I could think about was how I let people down last year, and all my anger and my hard work just went into everything.”
I will be bold to predict that the Broncos will score 24 or more points in every game this season (as long as Manning stays healthy). There’s just too many weapons on offense. Was I the only one who caught the rather racy camera shot of a Broncos cheerleader in the third quarter? Just wondering.