Today in Oakland California, the Denver Broncos fell to the Raiders 39-23. Here are four observations on the game:
- The Broncos' run defense is atrocious and the whole defense itself was playing with no heart whatsoever. The Raiders' Jacoby Ford took a handoff 71-yards for a score on their first play of the game, setting the tone for the rest of the game. Denver finished the game allowing over 250 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.
- The Broncos' run game is atrocious without Knowshon Moreno who went down with a side injury early in the game. Quarterback Tim Tebow ended up leading the team in rushing yards (rushing 8 times for 78 yards), while running backs Lance Ball and Correll Buckhalter combined for 23 yards off 21 carries. The offensive line's blocking certainly didn't aid the backs much, nor did Denver's playcalling.
- The conservative playcalling of Mike McCoy/Eric Studesville was atrocious and ultimately probably cost the Broncos the game. With 8:21 left in the fourth quarter the Raiders had a 7-point lead and pinned the Broncos down on their own 6 yard line. Earlier in the game Tebow had showed poise and made some nice throws, the Broncos however instead of giving Tebow the chance to lead the team down to tie the score, chose to call two running plays back-to-back, when the running game had been failing all game long (as mentioned above). Vic Lombardi noted; This game was supposed to be all about developing and cultivating a young quarterback. And yet, the Broncos shielded him with run calls with the game on the line. It was an unacceptable decision by Studesville and has placed him on Bronco fans bad sides.
- There were positives among them, Tim Tebow. The rookie quarterback was solid in his starting debut, going 8-of-16 for 138 yards and a score while rushing for 78 yards and a score. What's more, he took care of the ball and made good decisions in the passing game. Another positive, receiver Brandon Lloyd proved he can get it done even without Kyle Orton under center. Lloyd caught 4 passes for 79 yards and a 33-yard touchdown pass. A last minute fill-in for Matt Prater who went down with a groin injury last week, kicker Steve Haushka started last week against the Cardinals and again this week against Oakland. The 25-year old scored 11 points for the Broncos while making a 46-yard long field goal.
Although the Broncos lost the game in a heart-breaking fashion, Tebow and the Broncos did give fans something to cheer about, and that's something that they haven't been able to do for much of this season. Denver will face the Houston Texans at home next Sunday at 2:05 pm (MDT).