I’m about a half-hour late to the game here because I was playing Spider Solitaire on my computer and on the verge of winning for about 45 minuted before I finally did. My sporadic obsession with Solitaire, which goes back to way before it became a computer-assisted time-suck, will be getting its own post soon. But now we go back to our regularly scheduled programming, already in progress: Broncos leading 7-3 nearing the end of the first quarter.
11:30 a.m. – I used to live near Atlanta, about an hour north of the city, in the hamlet of Rome, called that because supposedly it had seven hills just like the original in Italy. I never counted them, just like I never got into the Falcons. The only memory I have of my time in Rome that involves the Falcons was from middle school: These two girls in my class, Kim and Angela, apparently went to a Falcons-49ers game once and later told everyone that they kept their eyes on Joe Montana’s behind the whole time.
11:35 – Last week, the Broncos did marginally better than they had been doing, defeating the Cleveland Browns, who were being led for the first time by Brady Quinn. Today, they face another young, pretty boy quarterback/former Big Man on Catholic Campus in Matt Ryan of Boston College. Ryan, of course, is the “new face” of the Atlanta franchise after the dogfighting fiasco that landed previous quarterback Michael Vick in prison. Vick certainly made his bed, and I don’t feel sympathy for him. Still, part of me does feel like he was made an example of—a nobody in his situation doesn’t get as much press and, as a result, doesn’t get as many years behind bars. Oh, well.
But to what’s actually happening in the game . . .
11:46 – Ryan seems to be decent, but the Falcons aren’t much of a team yet, which means they are actually a threat to beat the Broncos, who tend to underperform against average teams. He’s led a couple of drives, but no TDs so far. Former Bronco Jason Elam is the Falcons’ new kicker and has hit his old team up for 2 field goals. 7-6 Broncos.
11:48 – On the ensuing kick-off, Bronco rookie extraordinaire Eddie Royal has a nice little return to the Falcons 40 yard line.
11:50 – Nothing doing for the Broncos, even with such good field position. They go for the field goal, but kicker Matt Prater—like Elam, playing against his old team—missed a longish one.
11:59 – The Falcons seem to have figured out the Denver defense, which usually doesn’t take much trying. A four-minute drive ends in a 9-yard touchdown run for the Falcons. The D-line might as well have taken that snap off, considering how easily the running back walked into the end zone. And even as I was typing all of that, the offense 3 and outs. Ho hum. 13-7 Falcons.
12:16 – After controlling the clock for a while with what seemed like a long promising drive, the Falcons punt. Less than a minute to go in the half, though, so we’ll see if the Broncos can get some quick points on offense.
12:23 – Not only do the Broncos not do anything on offense, they don’t even manage to run out the clock, so the Atlanta gets 10 seconds to try to do something. Except they don’t. Ryan takes a knee, and we go to halftime.
Halftime thoughts: The game is on CBS, the land of the police procedural. I can’t think of a single show I’ve ever watched on this network. I’m sure there has been at least one, but I can’t think of any right now. I’m just not a cop show person, at least not the rote, one crazy murderer per week kind. Funny thing, though, Criminal Minds and CSI are exactly where people who can’t seem to get work elsewhere end up. Julia Ormond as guest star? Didn’t she used to be in good movies?
More halftime thoughts: Why does it take six people to call the halftime highlights? I like The Blitz on ESPN because it’s just Chris Berman and Tom Jackson. One runs the show, the other offers expertise. Why does every retiring NFL coach or player get an offer to be a studio commentator? Most of them are terrible.
Final halftime thoughts: I’ve also been following college football this year. The UNC Tar Heels have been having a decent run this year, but yesterday they lost to Maryland and though they will probably be bowl-game bound, their BCS hopes are no more. I guess it’s appropriate that it happened on the first day of the basketball team’s reagular season. Now, everyone can turn their attention to the team we’re all more interested in anyway.
12:45 – Touchdown Broncos! They sustain a nice long drive, and just when it seemed like they couldn’t close at the goal line, Cutler tosses the ball to Peyton Hillis behind him who manages to run it in by running around the linemen, rather than through them. Extra point is good! 14-13 Broncos.
Random sidenote: I like how Cutler wears his cap backward when he’s not on the field (and it’s not cold enough for a tobogan). Elway would never do that.
12:58 – Interception! Falcons are working the ball upfield until Ryan drops back about 20 yards them heaves it up, I guess thinking he didn’t want the massive loss if he got sacked. Dre Bly picks it off at about the Broncos 40 yard line. Hubby liked that play.
1:01 – Cutler passes it to Marshall on his left. Marshall then proceeds to run across the field to the right sideline—but he does manage to get a first down in the process. Hubby does not like it when Marshall does this. Most of the time Marshall ends up losing ground, but he seems to get away with it often enough that he keeps trying it.
1:03 – Pass interference call. This is against the Falcons though, so the call doesn’t give me a headache, like usual. First and goal for the Broncos.
1:08 – Field goal! Broncos can’t run it in, so Prater kicks it in for three. 17-13 Broncos.
1:20 – Commentators point out that the Broncos defense is actually doing well against the Falcons’ run game today, having given up only 85 yards on the ground when their season average is 180. I wonder why, if this is true, the Broncos are only winning by 4, and then Ryan passes for another first down and I have my answer. Also, the game isn’t over yet.
1:23 – And, wouldn’t you know, I was totally right. Falcons running back Michael Turner runs for 28 yards and a touchdown. I guess that means the Broncos have now given up 113 yards on the run. Also, the game isn’t over yet. 20-17 Falcons.
1:28 – After two fruitless plays, Cutler throws deep to Brandon Marshall for 57 yards. I wasn’t expecting a big play like that, but it seems to have woken up the Broncos a bit. They get a few more first downs, but one is called back for a penalty. Curses!
1:31- On 2nd and 12, Hillis makes another amazing play. He catches the ball again right at the sideline and tiptoes—literaly—his way to a first down before gravity finally pulls him out of bounds. That was awesome. Another 1st and goal. Can they break through this time. Field goal would only tie.
1:34 – Touchdown Broncos! Cutler avoids pressure and throws it in to Daniel Graham, who catches it on his knees. 24-20 Broncos.
With the extra point the Falcons need a touchdown, not a field goal to win it. They have five minutes and three timeouts, which is an eternity in this game. Hubby is not optimistic about the Bronco defense’s chances. If the Falcons do score, will they leave enough time for the Broncos to try to counter?
1:41 – Twice the Broncos almost intercept Matt Ryan. Twice Ryan answers with passes for first downs. The last almost interception was “the game,” Hubby says. Isn’t it frustrating how, after a good defensive play, the other team gets a first down anyway. Third downs are the Bronco defense’s Achilles heel.
1:47 – On 3rd and very long, Ryan heaves it to his receiver in the end zone. The Broncos defender, already beat, loses his balance and falls, but lucky for him, the Falcon receiver drops the ball and what would have been a touch down. Fourth and long now. No choice for the Falcons but to go for it. This is not when the Broncos usually shine.
1:50 – IN-COM-PLETE! Falcons out on downs. Less than a minute to go, but the Falcons have two timeouts left, so no taking a knee quite yet.
Broncos get close to a first down, which would ice the game, so the powers that be review.
Commentators point out that Spencer Larsen played both ways for the Broncos. That’s pretty insane, but if the Texas State Fightin’ Armadillos can do it, anyone can do it.
1:56 – Broncos short of the first down, but Tatum Bell gets it on the next play and game over.
Final thoughts: None, but for shits and giggles, here’s a clip of the UNC Tar Heels against the Penn Quakers on Saturday, displaying all they are known for. A big lead, fastbreak points and spotty defense. Go Heels!