Denver left Tebow Country with a pockmark in the L column. Missing several key components–no wide receiver Demaryius Thomas or offensive lineman Ryan Harris, nor a special teams unit that can close on and tackle a returner–Denver’s team struggled when it mattered.
First round draft pick Tim Tebow played on four downs throughout the game, all in the first half, with little effect in familiar Florida. Two yards on four Tebows cannot become a trend.
Jacksonville struck first in a generally lackluster 7-7 first half. Neither team made much of an impact in opposing territory; each punted on every possession in the first 15 minutes.
Brandon Lloyd emerged as a solid big play threat with 4 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown. He and Orton very nearly connected for the tying score in the fourth, but after an impressive catch he just barely touched the white chalk on the side of the endzone. WR Eddie Royal, Orton and RB Knowshon Moreno also looked solid.
The Denver line struggled on both sides of scrimmage at the point of attack at times, but generally the defense did a nice job of keeping Jones-Drew under the century mark with 98 yards on 23 carries.
The offensive line without Harris gave up 3 sacks: two to sack specialist, free-agent pick up Aaron Kampman, and one to a rookie whose name sounds like a Hawaiian hello. Orton may be partially responsible for those, however.
FIRST QUARTER NOTABLES:
Denver had several impressive drives that stalled for various reasons. A hold by Zane Beadles on a converted 3rd down set the Broncos back and set up a Jacksonville sack on the replayed down. Kampman beat Chris Kuper on the play.
Don ‘Wink’ Martindale looked ridiculous on the sideline, but his defense finally broke through with a big play. Robert Ayers pulled a nasty spin move to get to QB David Garrard for the first Denver sack. CBS commentators credited Ryan McBean with half a sack as well, but he did not appear to make significant contact.
Jones-Drew looked solid in the quarter, finishing with 30 yards at the bell.
SECOND QUARTER NOTABLES:
Coaches and media alike have lauded Jaguars TE Marcedes Lewis. At 6-6, 275, the big man was praised by coach Jack Del Rio as “the most dominant player” on their football team during training camp. The imposing target in his fourth year out of UCLA found the end zone first.
Broncos’ receiver Eddie Royal began to break out in the second quarter, keeping the first Denver drive alive with two impressive receptions before a delay of game penalty. Buckhalter matched Jones-Drew’s bruising style in spot duty, helping the team convert on 4th down.
On the ensuing Jacksonville possession, the Broncos shut down a promising drive with a rare backfield stop against JD.
Jacksonville rookie DT Tyson Alualu nothced his first career sack in impressive fashion; he manhandled pro bowler Ryan Clady on his way to Orton.
Special teams began to come apart at the seams on the ensuing punt. After a punishing block laid on Bronco David Bruton, Jacksonville had a solid return nullified by a penalty.
Ayers hit Garrard several times on the drive, although never for a sack, before the QB hooked up with Lewis.
And Perrish Cox made the first of two impressive Denver special teams plays on the day, dragging a defender five yards after first contact at the 20.
Denver finally found the end zone before halftime. Orton to Lloyd for 6. Lloyd would go on to have a very impressive game.
THIRD QUARTER NOTABLES:
Jacksonville’s special teams struck again. Second year player Tiquan Underwood returned the ball for an easy 46 yards. No yellow laundry on the field this time. Later in the quarter, he ran a kickoff back 53 yards from eight yards deep in his end zone.
Jones-Drew continues to run with authority. He did not break off any huge runs, but he was bruising every time he gets the ball. Second string back Rashad Jenning’s brief success spoke to the Jags beating Denver’s line more than anything. He hit a big hole to convert on third down and followed it up with a 14 yarder.
Marcedes Lewis scored again, beating DB Renaldo Hill for his second TD of the day. Might not hurt to give this guy a good look on your fantasy team.
Jacksonville beat Denver at the point of attack on both sides of the ball. Kampman got his second sack, beating rookie Zane Beadles.
Del Rio showed a lot of confidence in his offense, goes for it on fourth and inches at his own 40 after a very generous spot by the officials. DJ Williams breaks into the backfield and stops Jones-Drew. Despite the officials delivering another very generous spot after William’s jam, Broncos take over on downs.
Moreno had a very creative run, hurdling one defender, facing another, before being dragged down by his ankles on the Jaguars’ eight
Orton displayed the uncanny ability to generate pass interference calls near his own endzone as he did in preseason. Another bad call by the officials; as the ball sailed several feet behind the intended receiver Brandon Lloyd, he ran into the defensive back in an attempt to change direction. Even after the challenge, the zebras stood by what appeared to be a poor call.
Moreno capitalized, punching it in two plays later.
After Underwood’s 45 yard kickoff return, Denver’s defense stepped up. Dawkins had an impressive exposition of his vertical with a first down saving deflection. DJ Williams single-handedly ends two Jacksonville drives in the quarter, and Jacksonville comes away with just a Scobee field goal to go up 17-14
FOURTH QUARTER NOTABLES:
Brandon Lloyd and Orton connected on another beautiful sideline route as the 8th year player continued to make an impact. Orton showed grit on the Broncos first drive, pulling a Tebow and diving headfirst for the first down. Young receiver Richard Quinn forced the blue and orange to burn a timeout early and sent Coach McDaniels into an all out rage. After the coach berated receiver and receiver’s coach alike, the Broncos eventually sent kicker Matt Prater onto the field. He nailed it from 54 yards out.
Garrard and company countered with an impressive drive that ended with three Broncos losing their helmets, and a touchdown to special team’s stalwart WR Kasim Osgood.
Perrish Cox continued to prove why he took the job from bust Alphonso Smith–released by the team last week–with an impressive kick return.
Orton connected with Brandon Lloyd again and the acrobatic receiver made an absolutely nasty catch down the sideline. After an efficient drive, however, Denver failed to punch it in on fourth down with less than 5 minutes to go. Lloyd made a great catch, but landed just out of bounds.
At this point the game appearted to be over, with arguably the best yard eating halfback in the league to eat up the final three and a half minutes. Denver eventually held him in check enough to force a punt as the two minute warning hit.
Could Orton run the two minute offense to win the game? This is where you make your money.
The drive got going with a strike to Brandon Lloyd (who else?) to move the chains. Orton followed it up with a familiar exposition of his shaky deep ball skills. A bomb to Gaffney very nearly landed in CB Rashean Matthis’s hands. The WR alerlty (and perhaps illegally) knocked the ball loose to prevent the turnover, but Orton threw an interception to end the game on the very next play.
Tebow Tracker:4 appearances early in the first half. Nothing stellar.
QB Garrard: 16 for 21, 170 yards, 3 TD
RB Jones-Drew: 23 carries, 98 yards (4.3 avg), no TDs
WR Thomas: 6 receptions, 89 yards, no TDs
TE Lewis: 2 receptions, 31 yards, 2 TDs
SACKS: Kampman (2), Alualu (1)
QB Orton: 21 for 33, 295 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception
HB Moreno: 15 carries, 60 yards (4 avg), 1 TD
WR Lloyd: 5 receptions, 117 yards, no TDs
WR Royal: 8 receptions, 98 yards
SACKS: Ayers (1)