Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I saw two teams in very bad situations yesterday, their respective free falls continuing unchecked by the attendant urgency. The New York Giants of football, a moniker as deliciously archaic as the alternate pronunciation of Missouri, fell to their fourth straight loss behind the still atrocious tackling, blown coverage and freak luck. The Denver Broncos, as anemic as ever, lost for the fourth time in their last five games, a span in which they have gone from second in the conference to third in the division. The Giants played a passable game yesterday, if only because Eli Manning played a game worthy of his last name. They also had the misfortune of being outwitted, outfoxed and outplayed by Tony Romo.

Romo made some great throws not reflected in the statistics, most notable of them being a clutch 42-yard completion to tight end Jason Witten in the final minute of the game. Linebacker Antonio Pierce likely should not have been covering Witten, one of the best pass-receiving tight ends in the league. Safety Will Demps, in tandem with Pierce, should not have allowed such a pathetic lapse in coverage. There were other miscues, such as the continuing bizarre tale of Mathias Kiwanuka, getting his second mention on this blog in as many weeks. Redeeming himself after his car was stolen to add injury to last week's embarassment against the Titans, Kiwanuka intercepted a Romo pass in the first half. Then, untouched and unprompted, a theme in his career, Kiwanuka dropped the ball while running back. The Cowboys recovered the ball and went on to score a touchdown. I really want to see the Giants do well for some reason, but they're already playing as though they are out of contention. Fortunately, at 6-6, they retain a wild card spot in the feeble NFC.

As for my Broncos, Sunday hopefully marked the nadir of a season that began too well and is unraveling just as atrociously. Winning seven of eight after an opening day loss, the Broncos seemed poised to make a run at the Super Bowl so long as Jake Plummer held up, at least on paper. Crumbling like a poorly repaired rotator cuff under the strain of a twelve-to-six curveball, the Broncos are now 7-5 and in third place in the AFC West. Sunday's game highlighted the important question of the season for this team, namely just how it is that Denver intends to score points in the next five games and any subsequent games.

Jay Cutler, in replacement of Jake Plummer, performed miserably. With the exception of a late touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall, the credit for which rests entirely with Marshall effortlessly spinning his way out of three tackles and striding 71 yards, Cutler was 9-20 for for 72 yards. Most egregious of all was the first of five turnovers by the Broncos. This sordidly painful moment came about when Cutler deftly dodged the Seattle rush but nevertheless found himself in the grasp of defensive end Bryce Fisher. Apparently not one to be deterred by painfully and experentially obvious facts, Cutler nevertheless lobbed the ball up as if it were a bouquet at a wedding. The camera then panned right, almost in slow motion and confirmed the expectations all had for such a play: Darryl Trapp, Fisher's counterpart on the right end of the line, caught the ball and returned it for the first Seattle score of the night. With this in mind, it was a small miracle that the Broncos only lost by three points.

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