2 P.M. MDT: Back from my usual pregame walkaround … and while the air is cooler than it was this week, when high temperatures in the mid-80s allowed summertime to linger along the Front Range, the sunny spots in the stadium are downright balmy. It’s pom-pom (or “shaker,” if you prefer the Southern term) day here at the Broncos’ home ground, so the crowd will have a little more orange than usual — and not because of the sunburn that will invariably set in if you forgot the 35 SPF.
2:01 P.M. MDT: Just an observeration from watching portions of many games today … it seems to me that four-fifths of the teams in this league are simply mediocre. They’re not bad teams — there are few of those, maybe not even any in the league today — but so many in possession of fatal flaws that 20 years ago would have precluded a playoff appearance. I’m not saying this to sound curmudgeonly … it’s just a general thought I have as a fan. Maybe it’s because we’re still only in Week 5 and teams are still finding their form. I don’t know.
2:05 P.M. MDT: Here come the Chargers. Those new white helmets are gorgeous. All they need are the players’ numbers and they’d be perfect.
2:08 P.M. MDT: The Broncos take the field. Jay Cutler caps the introductions by shoulder-bumping with Brandon Marshall. Travis Henry gets a decent round of applause. The crowd seems a bit muted for a game this big.
2:11 P.M. MDT: The vocal group Face, which for some reason strikes me as a Caucasian version of the The Ink Spots (which isn’t a bad thing), completes a splendid rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner.
2:13 P.M. MDT: San Diego calls heads, and the coin comes up tails. Denver will receive the opening kickoff.
2:16 P.M. MDT: Selvin Young and Brian Clark are back for the kickoff … Clark fields it for a touchback … Offense opens in a two-tight end formation (Nate Jackson and Daniel Graham start) with Henry tripping as he goes left on the first play.
2:17 P.M. MDT: Outstanding persistence for Brandon Marshall on the game’s second play for 7 yards and a first down … keeping his balance even as San Diego’s defenders tried in vain to knock him down. Two plays later, Denver is at its 36, and Glenn Martinez checks in for Marshall.
2:18 P.M. MDT: Henry loses a yard on his second carry. Looks to me like the ankle/knee issues have robbed him of a little bit of his burst. Selvin Young now checks in.
2:19 P.M. MDT: On third-and-6, Young spells Henry, grabs the pass from Jay Cutler and hang on for the first down … Young was split out deep to the right side as the Broncos emptied the backfield.
2:21 P.M. MDT: The drive stalls and finally halts on third-and-7 at the Denver 45 as Cutler warp-speeds a pass to Brandon Stokley; the ball goes past Stokley just as he turns his head.
2:22 P.M. MDT: A chance to pin the Chargers back in field position is scuttled when Darren Sproles fields a 49-yard Todd Sauerbrun punt at the Denver 6 and runs 23 yards to the San Diego 29. Sproles eluded several potential tacklers on the runback, which unquestionably won’t please special-teams coordinator Scott O’Brien.
2:24 P.M. MDT: Third-and-12 for the Chargers at their 27 … and the Bolts go 36 yards after executing a screen pass from Philip Rivers to LaDainian Tomlinson. Curome Cox had a chance for a tackle and missed.
2:25 P.M. MDT: Unusual defensive groupings on this drive … Jarvis Moss ran a play from out of the stand-up position he was in last week … and the Broncos cheat Ian Gold up to the line on a play and come out in a five-man front. Meanwhile, the Chargers keep driving; they’re now at the Denver 11.
2:28 P.M. MDT: Rivers turns third-and-1 from the 2 into a touchdown as he outran Tim Crowder to the pylon at the right side of the end zone … Just like last week, a third-down, red-zone conversion deals the Broncos a crushing blow. Chargers up, 7-0.
2:31 P.M. MDT: And the boo-birds fly after Brian Clark loses the football following a hit from Carlos Polk … Brandon Siler picks up the loose football and runs it in for a touchdown that has the Broncos down 14-0.
2:32 P.M. MDT: Third down in the red zone … struggles on special teams … what has to frustrate the Broncos most right now is the fact that their issues in the first 8:45 are the same as they had in previous weeks.
2:37 P.M. MDT: Broncos desperately need a lengthy touchdown drive here to get a little control over a game that could be spiraling away from them … Denver has a first down at its 31. By the way, Brian Clark remained in on the kickoff return following San Diego’s touchdown.
2:38 P.M. MDT: A Tony Scheffler sighting … he’s hit at the Denver 40-yard-line by San Diego’s Clinton Hart and wastes little time gesturing for the flag as Hart hit him before Cutler’s pass arrived. Denver now at its 41.
2:39 P.M. MDT: Henry appears to be finding his legs now; he gets 5 yards up the right sideline.
2:39 P.M. MDT: It’s Scheffler’s turn; he gets open across the middle for 19 yards as Denver crosses midfield for the first time. Broncos using Scheffler, Graham and Jackson liberally as the tight ends become the focal point of the drive.
2:40 P.M. MDT: Another turnover. Brandon Marshall makes a 25-yard pass, then loses the football at the 01-yard-line after being hit by Marlon McCree. Giveaways and special-teams foibles … this is how a team gets itself into trouble.
2:43 P.M. MDT: Broncos have now been outscored 52-10 in the last 60 minutes of game time since taking a 10-0 lead early in last week’s loss to Indianapolis.
2:45 P.M. MDT: Chargers continuing to slice Denver’s defense; they now have third-and-4 at their 35-yard-line. The crowd is trying to get into it, and while it’s making noise, hardly anyone is on their feet.
2:46 P.M. MDT: Denver has to use a timeout as it had 10 players on the field for the third-down play.
2:48 P.M. MDT: Tomlinson goes eight yards right up the heart of the Broncos defense. He already has 71 yards from scrimmage today as the Chargers now sit at their 43.
2:49 P.M. MDT: End of the first quarter. More in the second-quarter thread.
Tags: San Diego Chargers