And the Broncos’ defense – the one that powered Denver to its 7-0 start, has scored five touchdowns of its own and spent much of the season leading the league in most major categories – is now in bounce-back mode ahead of Monday night’s visit from the Cincinnati Bengals.
The second-year quarterback didn’t have a turnover during a 24-14 win in San Francisco last Sunday, his first start in place of the injured Andy Dalton.
McCarron stepped up in a major way this past weekend, when he helped Cincinnati beat San Francisco and clinch their fifth straight playoff berth.
“He played well”, Dalton said.
McCarron, though, said he’s focused simply on improving. He had some big plays in there, had some shots down the field that he hit.
In addition to facing the league’s top-ranked defense, McCarron will be playing a cold-weather game.
That being said, the Bengals are going to leave it all out on the field and show this isn’t just one more game before the playoffs. We understand that we’ve got to play better for four quarters and more consistent.
That ample 6-ish yards of real estate in front of Osweiler’s feet provide two big advantages he needs: 1) a clean “windshield” to wait for and evaluate any deep, inside-breaking options and 2) space for the 6-foot-8 quarterback to use his God-given long stride and throw javelins.
Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler make his sixth start Monday and he’s not exactly a picture of health. Manning struggled with nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions before suffering a torn plantar fascia in his left foot that has kept him out of the last five.
McCarron was 15 of 21 for 192 yards with one touchdown, four sacks and a passer rating of 115.6.
Denver has been playing well, but fading in the second half the last couple of weeks, especially on offense.
“I think it would be easy to get frustrated and easy to change the way you prepare and say, ‘Well, I prepared too hard so I’m not going to do that this week.’ But that’s not how you win games and that’s not how you win a championship”, veteran tackle Ryan Harris said confidently. “I know where to put the ball”. Playoff seeding implications were always likely a factor for this game but now, just getting in is an issue for the Broncos. McCarron, out of Mobile, Ala., and the University of Alabama, thinks his coldest game was his last home game against Georgia, when “it was in the 30s”.
A win over the Bengals would put Denver in position for a first round bye. They also could miss the postseason.
“But now he’s got to take that next step because we don’t want the sacks either”, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said on Monday. “There are a lot of positive plays that we need to hang on to”.
Every week, we go into the film room with former Bengals safety Chris Crocker. We didn’t do it, but we went right to work. Jones is the Bengals speedy No. 2 receiver and despite having to share the ball with A.J. Green, Eifert and all the other Bengals weapons, Jones has 57 catches, 745 yards and 4 touchdowns – and in his last healthy season (2013), he had 10 touchdowns.