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Conservative Play Ends Season for Manning and Broncos

January 13, 2013

Never. Rush. Three. How many times have I said that? It never works. Sometimes you may get lucky, but, more often than not, you get burned like the Broncos did on Saturday. They had the situation they wanted–double coverage on Jacoby Jones–and it wasn’t enough. The extra man gained them nothing. Instead, Flacco had plenty of time to find Jones and fire a 70-yard missile to tie the game.

My utter disdain for prevent defense stems back to the days when Broncos head coach John Fox was the Giants defensive coordinator. I like John Fox. He was a good coach for us, but too many games during his time were either blown or unnecessarily stressful because of the three man rush.

He hasn’t changed. The man’s middle name is conservative. Case and point, you have Peyton Manning and 31 seconds and you choose to kneel down and take your chances in overtime. That was mistake number two. The third mistake–Peyton’s interception–would be the error that would ultimately cost the Broncos the game, but it never had to happen.  Denver had chances to end the game before the Ravens tied it.  It should have never gotten to that point.

Now, there will be no Manning in the Super Bowl. No chance for the brothers to go back-to-back again. I was looking forward to that possibility.

The door is also wide open for the Patriots who no longer have a Manning standing between them and Super Bowl glory. Just Ray Lewis and a red-hot Joe Flacco, but, given the choice, I bet the Pats would take a rematch with Baltimore at home over a trip to Denver for a date with their nemesis’ big brother.

With 31 seconds, Eli could have gotten into field goal range. To quote the movie Ted, “Tom Brady could do that.” Aaron Rodgers did it to us last season, albeit with 58 seconds, but he only had one time out. If Joe Flacco can throw a 70-yard bomb to tie the game (no offense to Flacco, I have a new-found respect for that guy), then Peyton Manning certainly could have done the same. He should have at least been given the chance.

I wonder if any of the Broncos saw what Atlanta did yesterday and thought we could have done that. The difference was the Falcons and Matt Ryan had no choice. It was get in field goal range or lose. Sometimes it is better to only have one option. That’s why Eli thrives when he is down by a touchdown in the final minutes.

Still, you play to win the game. You don’t play not to lose, especially when you have one of the best quarterbacks in the league (or ever).

Fox’s decisions will be discussed and debated for weeks to come. Hopefully, every coach and coordinator will be taking notes. I’m not saying play with reckless abandon, but there is a difference between playing conservative football and playing smart football. That thin line separates the good from the great.

With Peyton out, who do we root for now? Yikes, that’s not an easy choice. For the sole reason that Tony Gonzalez deserves to win a Super Bowl (he played 11 season in Kansas City after all ), I’ll be pulling for Atlanta.

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