We hate to pull you away from that MLS title game featuring your Chicago Fire, but there's an American football game to be played.
The snow is piled out in the back of the end zone at Invesco Field on this unusually cold day in Denver. But, as is usually the case in Colorado, the sun is shining. Not on the Bears, however. They are one of two double-digit underdogs this week.
It's been in interesting season out here for the Broncos. First there's the whole Jake Plummer signing. He visited Chicago for an afternoon but opted to sign with the Broncos. Meanwhile Kordell Stewart signed with the Bears and you know the rest.
Plummer is back, playing his second straight game after missing time with a broken foot he injured getting off his couch. What's never mentioned in this story is that Plummer's couch is 28 feet high.
And then there's Daryl Gardener. The defensive tackle went on a local sports radio show on Friday and ripped Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. As these things usually turn out, the coach wins. Shanahan, whom Gardener referred to as "that little man upstairs," had already suspended the free-agent flop before he went off and likely will cut him. Gardener had some other creative things to say--some of them unprintable.
These type of shenanigans would be welcomed in Chicago in the midst of this boring, lost season. Instead we'll continue with the Dick Jauron and Rex Grossman watch.
Speaking of which, Grossman again is listed as the No. 3 QB, which means if the Bears lose this one, look for the kid to get some clock next week against Arizona. That is if the Bears aren't awarded five wins during the week by the league office.
Football soon .
Yes, it's cold. Eight-degree wind chill cold. You know you're in Denver when there's a blonde woman riding a white horse up and down the field during before the game.
The Bears win their first toss in 10 games and they take the ball. Azumah takes the kick out to the 31 and we're off. Thomas runs right on a counter and picks up 4. Chris Chandler continues his inaccurate ways and over-throws Marty Booker on his first pass of the game. Chandler goes back to Booker near the marker. They're short and the Bears will go for it on fourth-and-1. It looks like the old try-and-draw-'em-offsides move, but they eventually snap it and Chandler dives for 3. Thomas runs twice for a few and then Chandler goes to Dez White over the middle and White drops it. Brad Maynard will punt. The Broncos jump but it won't be enough for the first. Maynard punts again and shanks it 28 yards out at the Denver 22.
Clinton Portis runs for 5 on the Broncos' first play from scrimmage. Plummer drops back on second down, doesn't see much and takes off, sliding at the marker. Portis picks up 5 more and then breaks one for 12, running right by Brian Urlacher. Plummer hits Rod Smith for 8 and the Broncos are moving early. Portis runs right but Jerry Azumah grabs him from behind with a nice tackle. Portis picked up the first, though. Plummer is pressured and nearly sacked but managed to get it off to Portis for 7 yards down to the Bears' 34. On a naked bootleg, Plummer gets the first. The Bears can't stop them. Plummer lofts a beautiful pass to Ed McCaffery in the end zone but McCaffery, playing his first game in four weeks, drops the ball. He had beaten Azumah badly. Really badly. We're back after an interminable commercial break and rookie running back Quentin Griffin breaks one down to the 1. Great run. Keith Traylor and Mike Brown both blew tackles before Azumah got him near the goal line. Play action to Portis, Plummer rolls right and hits Smith in the corner of the end zone.
Broncos 7, Bears 0
Right off the bat the Broncos go 78 yards in what seemed like an hour.
Azumah makes a great return into Broncos' territory--the 45, to be exact. Former Bronco Desmond Clark catches a short pass and picks up 16. Pritchett takes an inside handoff and gets 10. Hey, a short field and the Bears are moving. Chandler tried for Terrell in the end zone. Terrell is bumped but the refs rule the pass uncatchable. What else is new? Chandler goes back to Terrell, but for 4 yards. Here we go again, Chandler throws another uncatchable ball to Terrell. Edinger will try a 33-yarder and it's good. That was all Azumah's return there.
Broncos 7, Bears 3
Portis picks up a few running right and is nailed by a Bears coach. I think DB coach Vance Bedford, but I'm not sure. Warrick Holdman comes on a blitz and nearly gets Plummer, but the QB got rid of it. McQuarters is called for offsides, giving the Broncos a first. More play action from Plummer. It freezes Alex Brown and Plummer finds Shannon Sharpe wide open in the middle of the field at the Bears' 48.
After a Plummer incompletion and a 4-yard run by Portis, Bobby Gray comes on a safety blitz and just nails Plummer from the blind side. Great hit. Despite the contract extension, the injured Mike Green may have lost his starting job to Gray. Denver punts.
How 'bout a little heat in here.
Chandler misses Booker again. Thomas runs left, bringing up third-and-1. Of course, the Bears will throw on third-and-1. Thomas gassed after the 1-yard run or what? Instead they have Bobby Wade in there and Rabih Abdullah in the backfield. Why? Bears call timeout, hopefully to talk some send into John Shoop. Pritchett dives forward. That's more like it. Run the fullback in short-yardage situations. Chandler then hits White and White gets a first. Chris Villarrial jumps and it's first-and-15. White drops another ball. This time the defense jumps. Many infractions of the neutral zone so far. Madness ensues. Aaron Gibson blocks Trevor Pryce into Chandler. Chandler then drops the ball, the Bears recover, there's a pile up and it's all negated on a facemask penalty on Pryce. Meanwhile, the Bears are wearing out the grass at midfield. Chandler throws way behind Clark. Maynard's punt is downed at the 4 by Brock Williams. Meanwhile Part II: The Fire is down 2-nil to San Jose.
Portis runs up the middle only to be met helmet-to-helmet by Urlacher. Both players fall backwards. Portis breaks through the first layer of defense and like Marshall Faulk a week ago goes for a long way. McQuarters, who was playing safety for Mike Brown, who's injured, was the last guy to beat. Portis cut in back inside for more yardage. Fifty-nine yards. Urlacher was also out. But came back in for the next play. Anyway, the Broncos are on the 25, stall and Jason Elam's field-goal attempt is wide right. A whole bunch of excitement for naught. So much excitement, in fact, I was having trouble typing fast enough.
Thomas runs up the middle for 8. Here we go: Long ball from Chandler to a wide-open Booker. Cornerback Lenny Walls has to push Booker to prevent a touchdown and draws a flag. A 45-yard gain. Now this phone in front of me is ringing and some guy on the other end is looking for Aaron. No clue. Thomas runs up the middle for 4 and then Pritchett picks up the first on a short pass. Thomas runs again and gets the Bears to the 1. More play action and Chandler looks for a wide-open Clark in the end zone but the ball is batted at the line. Thomas is stuffed and it's fourth-and-goal from a half a yard out. But first, the two-minute warning. All that snow behind the end zone is suspiciously yellow. I blame the mascot. Invesco Field at Mile High is rocking now. This portion of the crowd stamping its feet brought to you by Coors, a Rocky Mountain Favorite. Cue the Keystone Cops music. Terrence Metcalf is nailed for a false start. Here comes Edinger and he's on horseback. No, he's not but his short kick is good.
Broncos 7, Bears 6
Plummer-to-Portis connection gets the Broncos a first but they eventually punt.
The Bears start at their own 34 with :57 on the clock and two timeouts. Knee? No, Chandler hits Terrell on the far sideline for 10 yards. Chandler goes back to the same sideline, this time to Booker, who makes a nice grab for a 13-yard pickup. Bears burn a timeout. Chandler throws it away. Glad they called time to draw that one up. Another one tossed away and Edinger trots on atop his horse to try a 54-yarder. It's good in the thin air up here.
Bears 9, Broncos 7
Apparently the Bears' plan is to kick the Broncos into submission. The half ends and the Bears have the lead. No lie. Many halftime adjustments by the little man upstairs, no doubt.
Edinger very pumped by his field goal, he boots his first kickoff of the season into the end zone. After in an incompletion, Plummer finds Rod Smith, who out-runs Urlacher for a nice gain. Portis breaks another one and this time Mike Brown is back there to knock him out of bounds. Urlacher was dropped by the fullback. A 49-yard yard run. Meanwhile, Chandler has been knocked out of the game with a shoulder sprain. It's up to former Colorado star Kordell Stewart. Nothing doing and Elam kicks a field goal. So much for the lead.
Broncos 10, Bears 9
I'll tell you what, Jerry Azumah is a heck of a return man. Thirty-nine yards on this one. And here's Stewart. He throws possibly the first pass he's ever attempted to Booker and it gets 11. Stewart changes the play at the line and apparently calls the deadly throw behind your receiver play. Stewart runs right and picks up 7. On third-and-3, Stewart calls timeout. Bobby Wade takes a handoff on an end around and picks up the first. Nice play. Thomas runs for a yard, Stewart tosses one incomplete and then gets sacked by Pryce on third-and-9. The Broncos are called for encroachment on the punt, which would make it a 52-yard kick into the wind. Maynard stays on and Ahmad Merritt and Brock Williams run into each other near the goal line. Touchback.
The Broncos go three and out deep in their own territory and punt the ball back. McQuarters is touched early on the kick and that's 15 yards from the spot. The Bears take over at their own 38.
Thomas runs for a first and I think I'm developing a facial tick. Thomas picks up the blitz and Stewart throws long to Dez White, but it's over-thrown. Stewart rolls right, pump fakes and takes a head-on hit. We're one non-slide away from seeing Grossman. A friend just called ranting about the tie in the President's Cup. That's golf, in case you're wondering. I was. On third-and-3, the Bears throw 2 yards and will go for it on fourth. Stewart hits Pritchett for 4 yards and a first. Two big conversions by Pritchett today. Thomas runs for a few. Can we get an MLS Cup score in here? Stewart rolls right again and hits Booker at the 14. Pritchett catches a shorty and is nailed by linebacker Jashon Sykes. Again Stewart rolls right and hits Desmond Clark, who takes a big hit from Kenoy Kennedy but hangs on. We've got a measurement. They're short. Quarter ends.
Stewart dives forward and picks up the first on his second effort. Stewart rolls right and looks to pass but seriously there's no one in the end zone. He's taken out at the 2. A designed draw for Stewart but Nick Ferguson stays home and gets him at the goal line. Stewart keeps the next one, the Broncos are saying they got it, there's a big pile, mass hysteria. Stewart is short; fourth down. The Bears are challenging. What? I'm not sure. Stewart clearly short. Sadly the Fire lost 4-2. Somewhere Jerzy Podbrozny cries. The review is taking longer than the drive from the airport. Play stands. Fourth down and they're going for it. The bal is about as close to the goal line as you can get. Stewart goes over the top for the touchdown. Could go for 2 here, but if they miss they can lose by two field goals. They kick.
Bears 16, Broncos 10
Tillman blitzes, is pushed aside by the running back but keeps his feet and chases down Plummer from behind. Great hustle play. Plummer's second-down pass to Sharpe is broken up by Urlacher. Deltha O'Neal, whom I believe used to be on "Designing Women," catches a pass out of the backfield but is cut down by Lance Briggs after only a yard. McQuarters makes a fair catch at the Bears' 40.
Yet another play action, Stewart misses a wide-open White around the 10. Thomas is brought down after a yard or so. Or 3, I'm told. Stewart throws behind Terrell and Lenny Walls is called for interference. Very questionable there but the Bears get 21 yards out of it. Stewart rolls right, cuts inside a Desmond Clark block and picks up the first. Finally Mike Gandy is called for his usual false start. An incompletion and a no-gain from Thomas puts the Bears' field-goal position in jeopardy. After a near intentional grounding, Edinger trots on for a 46-yard try. Confusion and the Bears use their last timeout with 8:50 remaining. Edinger's kick is money. It's safe to say this guy's slump is over.
Bears 19, Broncos 10
The Broncos are called for a block in the back on the kick, which kills them because Rod Smith made a nice return. Keith Traylor bats Plummer's pass down on first down. On second down, Plummer throws to Rod Smith but he can't hold on. Plummer goes deep to Ashley Leslie on third down. Charles Tillman falls down and the pass goes right through the hands of Leslie.
A short punt gives the Bears the ball around midfield. With under eight minutes left, the Bears start running. Way too much time left to pack it in. The Bears go three and out and Maynard will kick.
The Broncos take over at the 9. Plummer is flushed by Bryan Robinson and Alex Brown and throws it incomplete. Dwayne Carswell gets 5 on a short pass. Plummer throws it over the middle complete to Sharpe, who is just laid out by Bobby Gray. Sharpe is not getting up. No way Mike Green gets his job back. Sharpe held on and the balls on the Denver 42. Smith gets behind Tillman for 23 more yards. Portis picks up 8 outside before being knocked out by Gray. Denver picks up the first and calls time. Plummer gives a token fake handoff, rolls right and then throws back across the field for Smith but Azumah breaks it up. McCaffrey drops one, bringing up third and long. The Broncos line up for a field go and run a fake. Brock Williams was there to break it up. Correction: The holder dropped the snap. Tough game for the Denver punter, Micah Knorr. This one's over, folks. Many running plays coming.
Two running plays and we're at the two-minute warning. Bears are about to break their 12-game road losing streak. The last road win was in Week 2 at Atlanta last year. Bears run once more and punt. Denver takes over at their own 27 with a minute to play and no timeouts. Broncos eventually reach the Bears 34, but they run out of time. Huge upset. Bears go to 4-7.
Final: Bears 19, Broncos 10Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun