I didn't get the opportunity to see the Denver Broncos first field goal attempt, as I was proudly parading around the San Diego Zoo in my Broncos gear. What I did get to see, however, was a gamecast description of the 4th and 4 well within field goal range. It read something like this:
FUMBLE BY COLQUITT, RECOVERED BY JETS.
What the hell just happened? My first instinct was to curse McDaniels, assuming he had gone for the 4th down and botched it just as we usually do. My faith in McDaniels was restored seconds later at the hands of a text message from my brother claiming: DUDE, THAT FIELD GOAL SNAP WASN'T EVEN CLOSE. Whew, he did go for 3.
After a long and hard fought game, with Orton leading the troops down the field for the upset, Walton snaps the ball out of Orton's reach, leading to a game-ending fumble recovered by the Jets.
I can live with this, for now. Eventually I was able to watch the 2nd-4th quarters on my phone in the car on the drive home, which really gave me confidence in this team heading into the remainder of the year. Here are some of the things Denver fans can take from this game.
1. We took the 'best" team in the league and pretty much beat the snot out of them. If the ref doesn't throw the flag on a ball that was a 4th and 6 desperation heave, we beat a top AFC team, move to .500, and have the Raiders and Niners ahead to get us moving towards a winning record.
2. We can, in fact, run the ball. We outran the Jets 145-129 yards and led most of the game in rushing yards. It wasn't until LT's 20 yard TD run at the end that the Jets briefly jumped ahead of us. With Knowshon slowly returning to form, as well as the additional carried by Tim Tebow, the running game is at least becoming respectful enough to honor the playaction.
3. Tim Tebow is getting touches. When you have a guy like Tebow it's nice to see him produce, especially when you gave up so much to acquire him. Not only is he getting attempts, he's producing at a high level. To nobody's surprise, he took our shoddy redzone offense and ran it into the endzone for his first career touchdown. I strongly believe McDaniels is getting as much of Tebow running the ball on tape as he can only to setup the bootleg plays we saw Tebow make during the preseason.
4. Even when Kyle Orton has a bad game, the Denver Broncos can still find a way to compete. Orton and Lloyd were not on the same page for much of the day, but Orton still made it work. Even though he didn't throw for 300 yards (209, 1 TD) he didn't throw any picks and kept the Broncos in the game. This should (momentarily) silence the critics that feel Denver is a one dimensional team, and can't compete if Orton doesn't throw for 350 yards.
5. Even with our starters out, this defense is for real. We kept ourselves in the game for the entire game, just as we have all season (save for the Ravens). It seems like every single game has ended with us driving for the win, and that will eventually come to fruition. Even with a weak pass rush we have maintained a high level of play, and perhaps the signing of "Lights Out" Merriman will improve that enough to get us over the hump.
For the Denver faithful it has been a rough six weeks, but at the same time most of us had us realistically starting 2-4. That Jets game would have been a nice steal, especially considering it was at home, but it certainly taught us a lot about ourselves. More importantly it may have put the chip on our shoulder that we needed to go run over the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers.