The Broncos have morphed into a jugger-not.
In the 2013 regular season, the Horse Force regularly scored in the 40s and the 50s. It had opponents capitulating minutes into the second half. Fourth quarters became county fairs and quilting bees.
But in the first two games this season, both at home, the Broncos have been clinging by their fingers onto the cliff’s rim at game’s end.
Is this good or bad? The Great Gatsby or The Ugly Quasimodo?
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The Broncos must go to Seattle on Sunday. Remember the Seahawks?
On Sunday afternoon, after all those uh-ohs and oh-nos, there was another victory for the 2-0 Bronc-ohs!
In the opener, Andrew Luck’s pass on fourth down was batted away by Bradley Roby. Against the Chiefs, a pass on fourth down was tipped by Terrance Knighton’s elbow. Fingers, hands, elbows, toes, whatever it takes.
The Broncos have become thrill seekers.
Coach John Fox took his usual a-win-is-a-win and they-get-paid-too attitude afterward. Those who picked the Broncos to prevail were right; those who bet on the Broncos to cover were wrong.
As the 76,900 fans, none of whom are evacuating prematurely this season, filed out, one man told me: “I’m told old for these finishes. I don’t want to breathe that hard.”
This could be a palpitating season, based on the Colts’ second-half comeback and the Chiefs’ 97-play, three-day drive in the third quarter.
Remember the Ravens in double-OT here? Remember how it used to be when Tim Whatshisname was the quarterback?
Teams are figuring out the best way to play Denver is to make Peyton Manning sit next to the Gatorade.
The Chiefs had more than 36 minutes of possession, while the Broncos had less than 24, and it was not because the Broncos were scoring in four plays. The Broncos had the ball only twice in the second half, not counting a game-ending kneel-down.
The Chiefs had 75 offensive plays, the Broncos 46. The Broncos committed 11 penalties, including three terrible offsides in critical situations, and two Broncos touchdowns, one by the offense and the other by the defense, were called back because of violations. The Broncos have struggled in the second half in both victories and looked at times like the old North Carolina four-corners offense. The additional emphasis on running the football hasn’t sparkled, and the accent on pass rush has sputtered. Right offensive tackle Chris Clark had an awful day.
That is bad.
What was good was the Chiefs scoring only 17 points, the Broncos making a goal-line stand, and keeping the Chiefs scoreless after two goal-to-goal possessions. And Manning threw three touchdowns for the second week in a row.
The Broncos have defeated two teams that were in the playoffs last season. They have looked like the record-setting offense in the first half of each game. Manning is on pace for 48 touchdown passes. Emmanuel Sanders has been a special addition, and we hardly miss ya, Eric Decker. Julius Thomas could end up with 32 touchdown catches. DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib played efficiently, and the Broncos seemed better conditioned on Sunday.
That is good.
But the Broncos are leaving home now. The Seahawks are virtually impossible to beat in Seattle with that tough team and that vociferous crowd.
If those problems weren’t enough, the Seahawks lost Sunday at San Diego. You think they’ll be up for the Broncos? Yes.
And the Broncos “are 2-0,’’ Fox reminded us — only one of four unscathed teams in the AFC.
The Broncos could be 0-2. Juggernaut or jugger-not? Still to be determined.