The Denver Broncos have a savior at quarterback, and his name is not Tim Tebow. Today, Kyle Orton dissected the Tennessee Titan’s defense for 341 yards in leading his team to a 26-20 victory at LP Field in Nashville. While Orton played a near flawless game, the same could not be said for the rest of his team.
The Bronco running backs produced only 8 yards on 17 carries. The Bronco offensive line surrendered 6 sacks, while their defensive line barely applied any pressure on Titan’s quarterback Vince Young. Despite their dominant play in the trenches, the Titans still managed to lose a game that they could have easily won.
For the Titans, much of the blame will likely go towards rookie kick returner Marc Mariani. Mariani failed to secure a Denver kickoff with less than 2 minutes left in the game, allowing Denver’s Cassius Vaughn to recover the ball. While the blunder may have been the proverbial ‘nail in the coffin’ for the Titans, Mariani should not be considered the true goat of this game. That title belongs to the Titan’s coaching staff.
Late in the fourth quarter, Jeff Fisher mistakenly decided to challenge the spot of the ball after a 4th and 1 conversion by the Broncos. Fisher should have realized that any review would be superfluous as it was essentially asking the officials to determine if the spot was mistakenly placed one or two inches away from where it should have been. The decision cost the Titans a valuable time out which they could have used on their final possession.
In addition, offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger’s play-calling was predictable to say the least. The best example of this was when the Titans took over at their own 4 yard line protecting a 20-16 lead with 4:32 remaining in the game. Heimerdinger gave the ball to Titan’s running back Chris Johnson 4 straight times which resulted in a 3rd and 11 at the Titan’s 14 yard line. Giving the ball 4 straight times to one of the NFL’s best players may not seem like a bad idea, but it was exactly what the Bronco defense was expecting. To make matters worse, Heimerdinger called an even more predictable play action bootleg on 3rd and 11 which appeared to be designed to get the ball to fullback Ahmard Hall in the flat. Young had no choice to throw the ball away when he was faced with pressure from Bronco safety Brian Dawkins. The incompletion stopped the clock with 2:56 and it wound up giving the Broncos possession inside Titan territory.
Last, but certainly not least, is defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil. Cecil decided it was a good idea to flip his middle finger to the officials after they missed a call in the first half. Not only was the gesture caught by the officials, but it was also caught by the CBS broadcast booth. Cecil’s finger likely didn’t win him any brownie points from the officials. He should also be expecting a FedEx envelope this week from the NFL demanding roughly $10,000 – $50,000.
In short, the Broncos escaped from Nashville in thanks to Orton and some questionable decision making by the Titans. If the Titans do not correct their erroneous ways before they travel to Dallas next week, then expect to hear more blame being directed towards their coaching staff.