October 5, 2008 6:42 PM
Broncos trade punches, KO Bucs 16-13
Excuse me while I whip out a string of numbers from the Broncos' 16-13 win over Tampa Bay Sunday at Invesco Field at Mile High.
But first, a brief commentary. The Broncos' pretty-boy offense learned a lesson in how to cope with rough-and-tumble defense. Buccaneers veteran defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin wasn't going to let Denver make big plays downfield. Quarterback Jay Cutler, to his credit, didn't take the bait by forcing passes -- something that proved costly for him against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Broncos' running game didn't produce a gain longer than 16 yards. The Broncos passing game produced one touchdown. There were penalties, but no interceptions and no sacks allowed. Definitely not pretty, but enough to get the job done.
Tampa Bay didn't take chances throwing the ball down the field. To Denver's credit, the pass rush produced three sacks and a corner blitz by Champ Bailey knocked Buccaneers quarterback Brian Griese out of the game in the third quarter.
Denver's 4-1 and the only team in the AFC West with a winning record. Take it and run, Bronco Fan . . .
Let's start with an odd number -- 137. That's the streak of regular games Bailey has played without a quarterback sack, dating back to the 10th game of his rookie season.
On Nov. 14, 1999 Bailey got his only career NFL sack, against Philadelphia's
Bailey delayed his run at Griese just long enough to give the ex-Broncos QB a chance to release the ball before hitting the turf in pain.
"I wish I could have gotten a sack . . . that goes down as nothing," Bailey said. "I don't even know how you put that on the stat sheet." Actually, it counts as a "quarterback hit"-- one of six credited to Denver's defense on the day . . .
More numbers, starting with 31, the number of tackles credited to the trio of Broncos linebackers -- D.J. Williams (11), Boss Bailey (10) and Nate Webster (10) . . .
13: The number of points I predicted the Buccaneers would score against Denver. You snickered, but . . .
There's 10 -- the number of games
Nine missed third-down conversions in 15 attempts -- by both teams. The Broncos' defense did good work in forcing Tampa Bay to punt six times after third-down plays that required six or more yards for a first down . . .
Eight: the number of consecutive regular season games the Broncos have played without producing a 100-yard rusher.
Four: Number of 50-yard field goals made by Broncos kicker
Three: Number of Broncos who suffered groin injuries: tight end
One final quote: In the fourth quarter defensive lineman