After predicting that the Broncos would go 4-12 this year, I bet a friend $60 that they would win six games or less.
I thought he was being generous.
Undefeated start against Ohio? Count ‘em both.
The first “real test” against the Cowboys? Passed ( to the enormous hands of Brandon Marshall).
The Mentor? Fist pumped outta here.
Division rival gut-check? Checked.
I was a little worried this Monday against the Chargers. Although the Broncos have changed drastically this year, the start of the game was starting to feel like a vintage-Broncos letdown to match those vintage, vintage uniforms (don’t worry, that was the last we’ll see of the mustard yellow this year. Although considering how the Broncos have played in them, maybe a couple more weeks wouldn’t be so bad.)
LaDanian Tomlinson showed threats of returning to form, something he likes to do against the Broncos (14 carries for 96 yards and 3 TDs in Week 17 last year, after a very sub-par season for him).
In the Chargers’ second drive he broke through the middle for 25 yards on a cute little spas-flick from Phillip Rivers.
One play later LT ran for 13 yards to move the Chargers to the Broncos 4 yard-line, and I started getting my LT-is-gonna-take-this-game-over tingles of dread.
Fortunately he got stuffed up the middle the next two plays, then got upset on the sideline after being taken out on third down. Darren Sproles got stuffed and the Broncos held the Chargers to a field goal.
Then Eddie Royal returned the ensuing kick off for a 93-yard touchdown to kick off an eventful day on special teams.
After two penalties against New England to extend a third-quarter drive, the Broncos special teams responded this week with two Royal touchdowns, the second coming on a 72-yard punt return by in the second quarter.
The Broncos also gave up a punt return for a touchdown to Sproles later in the second quarter, and Matt Prater just missed a 54-yard field goal to tie the game as the half expired.
The first half looked a lot like the Broncos’ first-halves of the last two weeks. The offense struggled to produce points, just three if you take away Royal’s special teams touchdowns, and the defense fought hard and looked tough but gave up 20, 13 if you take away Sproles’ punt return.
But then the second-half Broncos emerged as their dominant selves. The D held the Chargers to just three second-half points, bringing the season-total to just 10 second-half points. Amazing.
And the offense also found its stride in the second half, culminating with a 19-yard, third-quarter touchdown pass from Kyle Orton to tight end Tony Scheffler on a perfectly thrown dart to the corner of the endzone and some ballerina-like footwork from Scheffler.
Sceffler finished the game with a game-high six catches for 101 yards, the first 100+-yard receiving performance for the Broncos this year.
I predicted the Broncos to go 4-12 this year; well they matched that win total in four weeks.
They matched that win total before their bye-week, and coming out of it they’ll face the 3-3 Ravens at Baltimore with a chance to improve to 7-0, and rob me of the best $60 I’ve ever spent.