6:23 P.M. MST: A somewhat late-arriving crowd so far tonight … and frankly, the air in the stands was a little bit lackadasical. Maybe everyone’s mentally checked out because of the holiday week; maybe the day was so nice that people have been lulled into taking a more serene, almost Buddhist approach — as Niles Crane would say — to the game?
6:29 P.M. MST: Blue Steel, from the U.S. Air Force Academy band, sings the national anthem. Very nice, albeit it seems like they’re channeling the Ray Conniff Singers.
6:32 P.M. MST: Were there accidents on Interstate 25? Way too many vacant seats as kickoff nears.
6:34 P.M. MST: As Tony Kornheiser reminds viewers, tonight’s coaches are the two longest-tenured in the league.
6:36 P.M. MST: Hamza Abdullah introduced as a starter at home for the first time in his NFL career … looks like he’s done this before. John Lynch draws a loud roar as he is the final player introduced.
6:38 P.M. MST: Titans win the toss — calling heads — and will receive.
6:41 P.M. MST: Standard starting ‘D’ — Abdullah for Nick Ferguson, as expected — as the game opens following a touchback on the kickoff … third-and-7 forthcoming.
6:42 P.M. MST: Vince Young with the adept scramble on third-and-7 … knew exactly where he needed to go. That’s what makes him so dangerous — he runs judiciously and with awareness; no willy-nilly to his style.
6:44 P.M. MST: Titans now 2-of-2 on third downs already … crowd is still settling in; very little noise on that third down. This place needs Dan Hawkins to tell the onlookers that “this ain’t intramurals.”
6:45 P.M. MST: Broncos catch a break after Brandon Jones sprinted past Champ Bailey up the right sideline, only to drop a pass that landed perfectly within his grasp.
6:46 P.M. MST: Young now 2-of-2 on third downs after finding Roydell Williams to move the Titans 15 yards to the Denver 44; Tennessee 3-of-3 on third downs already.
6:47 P.M. MST: Another third down now coming — third-and-8.
6:48 P.M. MST: Nice job by Josh Mallard to stay at home and tackle Young … Broncos get the stop after the Titans control possession for 12 plays and 6:34 of clock time … Broncos will take over at their 20.
6:51 P.M. MST: Broncos open in the I-formation … Selvin Young sprints for a quick eight yards on the game’s first play … Denver goes two tight ends on the game’s second play — Tony Scheffler enters — and Young gets another five yards.
6:53 P.M. MST: Nice job by Scheffler to hang on to a 16-yard catch with Michael Griffin draped all over him … Young goes for no gain on first-and-10 from the Denver 49.
6:54 P.M. MST: This first quarter is zipping on by … already below six minutes.
6:55 P.M. MST: Three wide on third down … Jay Cutler loooks like he’s going to run, but then finds Brandon Stokley right across the middle … Stokley turns and dashes upfield … showing speed that I didn’t think he’d had since his Baltimore days … outruns the entire Titans defense … touchdown, 48 yards. Great play all around … Cutler firing a phaser shot (I watched some old original series Star Trek episodes this morning) … and Stokley showing some zip that I remember witnessing in person on his touchdown in Super Bowl XXXV when he was a Raven.
7:01 P.M. MST: Kenny Peterson seeing some time up front … Titans will have third down, but it’ll be short yardage for the first time tonight (third-and-1).
7:02 P.M. MST: Broncos knew exactly what was coming … LenDale White as the lone setback … D.J. Williams crashed through for the 1-yard loss; Champ Bailey was also there. Titans go three-and-out.
7:03 P.M. MST: Glenn Martinez an early game MVP candidate … took advantage of the low line-drive punt by Craig Hentrich and just shot through … first touchdown on a punt return since Rod Smith against San Diego in 2003 … great blocking by Steve Cargile, holding off two guys … another splendid block by Jamie Winborn … 14-0, Broncos.
7:06 P.M. MST: One good re-turn deserves another, but the Titans can’t quite go as far with theirs; they’ll start following the kickoff at their 35.
7:08 P.M. MST: Now we’ve got the crowd yelling … a “DE-FENSE” chant as the Titans retake possession.
7:09 P.M. MST: Patrick Smyth of media relations informs me that this is the 17th punt-return touchdown for a player under special-teams coordinator Scott O’Brien’s watch — and the 32nd touchdown by an O’Brien-coached unit.
7:11 P.M. MST: Just like the first series … Young knows what to get. He needs 11 on third down; he gets 12. Beware of Young … if he starts doing the improv thing, the Titans could trim this deficit in as much time as it takes Young to get to the corner — which he just did for a first down, even with the speedy Elvis Dumervil bearing down upon him.
Tags: Tennessee Titans