No miracle for Broncos against New England
There hasn't been a December to remember in recent
memory for the Denver Broncos.
They're trying to avert a similar fate this month.
The club went 1-4 last year; 1-4 in '09, 1-3 in '08, 2-3 in '07 and 2-3
in '06. That adds up to a putrid 7-17 overall mark in the final month
of the calendar year.
Heading into Buffalo for a Saturday game this
weekend, coming off a loss to New England at home, things aren't dire
yet this December. Consecutive wins over Minnesota and Chicago from
Dec. 4-11 saw to that and produced a margin for error in the AFC West
But no slip-ups can occur now, beginning with the
And after giving up 41 points and coughing up
three turnovers vs. the Patriots, there is some cause for concern.
"We need to concentrate on getting better,"
cornerback Champ Bailey said. "We showed (last Sunday) that we're not
ready to go to the playoffs and make a push. We've got to get better
and we only have two or three weeks to do it. If we don't, then we'll
be sitting home in the playoffs."
At 8-6, the Broncos are one game atop both Oakland
(7-7) and San Diego (7-7). Win out, and Denver clinches the division,
obviously, with a better overall record.
If the Broncos beat the Bills and both the
Chargers and Raiders lose this weekend, that also does the same trick.
But one loss - especially in the final game at
home vs. Kansas City - and things get tricky.
Denver does have some wild-card advantages, even
if things go awry. The Broncos have won head-to-head meetings with both
the New York Jets (8-6) and Cincinnati (8-6) but lost to Tennessee
(7-7). Yet the team doesn't want to consider a fallback option.
"We're just worried about winning (Saturday).
Buffalo is a tough team," defensive end Robert Ayers said. "We're
thinking about going up there and winning. It's going to be tough.
Christmas weekend. A lot of distractions. We just want to get a win.
We're not really worried about the division, all this and all that. We
just want to handle business (Saturday)."
TRENDING: The Broncos turned the ball over three
times in a 81/2-minute span last Sunday. All three were fumbles - one
each by quarterback Tim Tebow, running back Lance Ball and punt
returner Quan Cosby. Denver had won the previous six games prior to
that New England loss. And in that span of a half-dozen contests they
had only turned the ball over a total of five times. Buffalo has 16
interceptions (10th in the NFL) and eight fumble recoveries (12th) this
season, despite a swoon that's seen the Bills lose seven straight games.
BY THE NUMBERS: Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas has
two 100-yard receiving games in the last three weeks. The second-year
pro caught four balls for 144 yards vs. Minnesota to open December,
then followed it up with a pair of seven-catch efforts in games against
Chicago (for 78 yards, touchdown) and New England (116 yards). Those
three performances represent three of the top four yardage games in
Thomas' career. He's averaged 18.7 yards per reception during that span.
--RB Willis McGahee suffered a left hamstring
injury during Sunday's loss to New England. McGahee stretched out on
the sideline for most of the second quarter and through halftime and
returned for the third quarter, but departed after only two carries.
Coach John Fox said after the game no players were injured seriously,
but the team has a short turnaround time to the Buffalo game.
--SS Brian Dawkins missed the Patriots game with a
neck issue sustained in the victory over Chicago on Dec. 11. Dawkins'
participation in practice leading up to the New England game was
sparse, leaving rookies Quinton Carter and Rahim Moore to patrol
safety. Dawkins' presence is needed in the lineup to aid in
communication particularly but also for his sure tackling.
--DE Elvis Dumervil carries a seven-game streak
with at least a half-sack into Saturday's game in Buffalo. Dumervil
since Denver's bye week has all 8.5 of his sacks this season.
--RB Lance Ball had a 32-yard TD run against New
England, representing his first career rushing score and the second
overall touchdown of his career. Ball also lost a fumble. He will take
on added responsibilities if Willis McGahee's hamstring is slow to heal.
--QB Tim Tebow scored two rushing TDs vs. New
England for his first career game with multiple rushing TDs. Tebow
didn't throw a scoring pass for only the second time in his nine games
as a starter vs. the Patriots.
- Broncos Game Talk
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