Broncos' Struggles Extend To Pro Bowl Cornerback
Tuesday, October 30th 2007, 2:33 pm
News On 6
DENVER (AP) _ The Denver Broncos could always count on their cornerbacks. Brett Favre changed that.
The Broncos knew Champ Bailey and Dre' Bly would hold things together in the defensive backfield when their new front four was flopping, their new linebacker lineup was struggling or their depleted offense was bumbling around.
So good was this tandem with 10 Pro Bowls between them _ and so bad was the run defense _ that most teams didn't dare test Bailey or Bly over the first six weeks of the season.
Favre burned each of them for long touchdowns Monday night.
He torched Bailey on a 79-yard TD to James Jones in the first quarter and targeted Bly for an 82-yarder to Greg Jennings on the first play of overtime.
In between, the Packers were held to two field goals on 27 snaps.
``Two plays beat us,'' said Bailey, whose team fell to 3-4. ``Just those two plays. If you give up big plays like that, you're going to lose games.''
Both Bailey (thigh) and Bly (shoulder) are nursing nagging injuries, but wouldn't use them as an excuse.
``If we're in position, we make those plays,'' Bailey said. ``He's a great quarterback. He's not going to miss anything. We've got to make those plays. We're too good not to make those.''
Bly was stunned by the two long TDs.
``We don't give up too many balls like that,'' Bly said. ``When a ball's up in the air like that, we make those plays. I can't recall getting beat like that on the last play of the game for that much yardage. It happens. It happens to the best. I'm going to regroup.''
The Broncos are heading into a stretch of four road games in five weeks.
``We had a lot of games at home to start the season and now we have a lot of games on the road,'' wide receiver Brandon Stokley said. ``It doesn't matter, we just have to play good football.''
That's getting harder and harder to do with so many playmakers on the sideline.
Pro Bowl safety John Lynch was knocked out in the first half Monday night with a shoulder injury, and Denver was without top tailback Travis Henry (ribs) and No. 1 receiver Javon Walker (knee) on offense.
The Broncos lost left guard Ben Hamilton (concussion) for the season during training camp and center Tom Nalen two weeks ago with a torn biceps. Also out for the year is their top receiving tight end, Nate Jackson, with a torn groin muscle. And career touchdowns leader Rod Smith hasn't played a down as he recuperates from offseason hip surgery.
Their shuffled offensive line cost them Monday night when left guard Chris Kuper pulled right and accidentally punched the ball out of quarterback Jay Cutler's hands. Linebacker Nick Barnett recovered at the Packers 1.
``Anytime you get the ball down there, you've got to get points,'' said Cutler, whose team stubbed its toes on three of four trips inside the 20.
``I talk about this every week: turnovers and penalties. There you have it,'' Cutler said.
For once, the defense wasn't answering questions about its inability to stop the run.
``I thought we did a good job stopping the run all day long,'' said linebacker Ian Gold, Jennings' cousin. ``We just have to shore up the pass.''
The two long TD throws, was that just Favre being Favre?
``It's us not being us,'' Bailey retorted. ``He's not going to miss any passes. We usually don't give up passes like that. We can't let that happen.''