|10-18-2005, 04:38 PM||#1|
Join Date: Jul 2004
Broncos unearth reliable deep pass play
Broncos unearth reliable deep pass play
By Bill Williamson
Denver Post Staff Writer
Broncos running back Tatum Bell celebrates with a spike after a 3-yard TD run put Denver on the scoreboard in the second quarter. He had 114 yards rushing on 13 carries; the Patriots finished with 89 yards on the ground. (Post / Hyoung Chang)
It was the last, pesky item on a lengthy "to do" checklist.
Execute the long pass play.
After winning their past four games with efficiency and effectiveness on both sides of the ball, the long passing game was still missing from the Broncos' game plan. Denver was winning with a relentless, blitzing defense that made the big play. Its offense was relying on a solid running game. Tatum Bell and Mike Anderson were providing quick strikes, but the big aerial play was not part of the arsenal.
Quarterback Jake Plummer threw for only 92 yards last week in a victory over Washington. The offense was working but hadn't gotten all cylinders clicking as it did Sunday in a 28-20 victory over defending Super Bowl champion New England.
"We thought we would get an opportunity," Plummer said, noting the Atlanta Falcons' offensive performance against New England last week. "We watched film and saw Atlanta had some opportunities for big plays against them."
Plummer nearly hit his passing total from a week ago with one pass to Rod Smith. The 72-yard gain on the second play of the second quarter brought Denver's offense to life. After Smith was tackled at the New England 5, Bell scored two plays later. Plummer's previous long pass of the season was a 31-yarder to tight end Jeb Putzier.
"We knew we would get a couple of shots," Plummer said. "But we didn't know that it would pan out just like that. They were big plays, and they really made a big difference in the game."
Denver scored touchdowns on two of the next three series to take a 21-3 halftime lead and essentially seal the win, their fifth straight after starting the season with a stumble in Miami.
On Denver's next drive, Plummer got Ashley Lelie into the groove for the first time this season. Lelie - who entered the game with only 11 catches for 113 yards - made catches for 19 and 55 yards on back-to-back drives. Going into the game, Lelie's longest reception of the season was 16 yards.
For a player who had seven touchdowns of 30 yards or more in 2004, the absence of the big play had been a concern.
Plummer completed 17-of-24 passes for 262 yards, throwing for two touchdowns and no interceptions. He hasn't thrown an interception since the second week of the season.
Denver tried to get the long passing game going last
week against Washington, but struggled in a constant rain. Plummer aggressively tried to hit Lelie and Smith long early against the Redskins.
Sunday, it was clear New England was vulnerable to the deep ball. The Patriots' secondary had been getting torched all season, particularly by tight ends.
With New England safety Guss Scott out Sunday because of an injury, it seemed like the Denver tight ends could do some damage, and Putzier made three catches for 32 yards. However, Denver opted to get the wide receivers more involved. Smith finished with a team-high six receptions for 123 yards, and Lelie made three catches for 81 yards.
"The whole offense was working today," Lelie said. "It opened up the big passes."
Making the arrival of the big pass play even more satisfying was the continued big play in the running game. Bell had a 68-yard run to set up Denver's final touchdown of the second quarter and finished with 114 yards on 13 carries.
"To see the offense hit those big plays, it seems we've got a lot of good things going right now," Broncos safety John Lynch said.
The Big Play lives
Denver finally hit the big pass play Sunday. Here is a summary of the Broncos' big offensive plays in their 28-20 victory over New England:
Qtr. Play Gain Impact
2 Jake Plummer pass to Rod Smith 72 Set up Denver's first touchdown.
2 Plummer pass to Ashley Lelie 55 Set up Denver's second touchdown.
2 Tatum Bell run 68 Set up Denver's third touchdown.
3 Bell run 20 Set up Denver's fourth touchdown.
3 Plummer pass to Smith 21 Set up Denver's fourth touchdown.
Bill Williamson can be reached at 303-820-5450 or email@example.com.
|10-18-2005, 04:44 PM||#2|
Fan of the home team
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Durango, Colorado
Two games ago I was wondering where the homerun threat was on our team. Bell has proven to be the answer on that as well as Mike Anderson. I think it's hiliarious to have an offense running 150 plus yards every game. It's great stuff.
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