Week 15 produced some really ugly performances from the AFC West, even by AFC West standards. As usual, the Broncos saved face for the NFL’s worst division by coming up with one of its most impressive wins of the season. Let’s take a closer look at the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Good – The Denver defense dominated much of this game, especially in the first half. The Broncos were able to keep Ray Rice contained and put a lot of pressure on Joe Flacco with their pass rush. The biggest play of the game came late in the 2nd quarter with the Ravens poised to make it a 10-7 game at the half, when a 98-yard pick six by Chris Harris gave Denver a 17-0 halftime lead. The rest of the game was all about extending the lead and controlling the clock, which Peyton Manning and the offense did almost to perfect.
Bad – Left tackle Ryan Clady did not have his best game Sunday against the Ravens. At times he really struggled to contain Baltimore’s pass rush coming off the edge, and as a result Manning was sacked a couple times and took a few more hits than the Broncos would prefer he take this late in the season.
Ugly – Kick return specialist Trindon Holliday fumbled the ball yet again on Sunday against the Ravens. After a scrum for the loose ball, it wobbled harmlessly out of bounds, allowing the Broncos to keep the ball; however, if the Ravens had been able to recover, the turnover would have swung the momentum of the game. Holliday is a dynamic playmaker in the return game, but if he can’t hold onto the football he can really negate a lot of the good things the Broncos do.
Good – Who had the best performance for the Chiefs on Sunday? How about punter Dustin Colquitt? Colquitt had a busy day, kicking seven punts, and averaged 55 yards per punt, including a long of 71. He stuck four of the seven punts inside the 20-yard line, which forced the Raiders to face a long field all day, and gave the Kansas City defense a fighting chance.
Bad – After such a stellar season this year, running back Jamaal Charles had a rough game against a defense he was expected to run right over. Charles took just nine carries and managed just 10 total yards. Since they weren’t able to get Charles going, there was little hope for the Chiefs offensively.
Ugly – The Kansas City offense was so bad that they didn’t earn a first down the entire first half. The game was nearly 10 minutes deep into the 3rd quarter before the Chiefs recorded their first, first down of the game; it was just one of seven they managed in easily their worst offensive performance of the season, which is saying something.
Good – Running back Darren McFadden looked healthy and at the top of his game Sunday, as he carried the ball 30 times for 110 yards. McFadden, who also caught four passes for 39 yards, ran hard and showed a willingness to play physical against the Kansas City defense. Plenty of credit also belongs to the offensive line for helping to open things up for McFadden and back up Mike Goodson, who ran for 89 yards on 13 carries.
Bad – It was a disappointing day for wide receiver Darius Heyward-Bey, who was targeted five times, but came away with no catches. The former first-round pick has had a rather underwhelming season, with just 37 catches and four touchdowns. In an offense that has been reliant on throwing the ball for much of the season, Heyward-Bey has not had the kind of season the Raiders have needed from him.
Ugly – Once again, the Raiders didn’t score nearly as many points as they should have scored. With 385 total yards, Oakland could only manage five field goals, including two from more than 50 yards out. The execution from the Oakland offense once they got across midfield was awful, and not being able to have success against the Chiefs explains why they haven’t been successful against the rest of the league this season.
Good – If there’s one thing the Chargers did well against the Panthers, it was…well…avoiding a shutout. A nine-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates early in the 4th quarter finally got the lightning bolts on the scoreboard, It was just too bad they were already behind 31-0.
Bad – There was so much not to like about San Diego’s loss to Carolina that it’s tough to choose. There was the 164 total yards; there was only getting 12 first downs; there was the six sacks allowed; there was the four fumbles by Philip Rivers, although only two were lost. After an impressive road win in Pittsburgh the previous week, the Chargers came home and laid an absolute egg.
Ugly – Usually in a game like this the boo birds would be out in full force at Qualcomm Stadium. However, there simply weren’t enough fans in attendance to let the home team know of their disappointment. It was a sign of great apathy among the fan base, and one more sign pointing to the end of the Norv Turner era at season’s end.