Peyton Manning and the expectations of Broncos fans every where came crashing down to a more realistic level after last week’s game against the Falcons. It became apparent that Manning wouldn’t just pick up right where he left off after a year away and four surgeries, and Broncos fans were reminded that we may have Peyton Manning now, but we also have one of the toughest schedules facing some of the league’s best teams to get through this season. Next up is the Houston Texans coming to the Mile High City. They made it to the playoffs last year despite some major setbacks, and this year they feel is a season of destiny for a team that’s often been right on the verge of being great. What will Manning do against one of the best defenses in the league that’s hungry to throw him to the ground? How will Denver’s D match up against a fairly potent offense? We turn to the crystal ball of Madden NFL 13 to see if we can find that out:
Broncos 24, Texans 27:
1st Quarter - Like two prize fighters trying to size each other up, both teams got off to slow starts. The Texans had a steady drive going to start the first quarter, but it bogged down and they settled for a 41 yard field goal. The Broncos came back with an equally steady first drive that slowed down, and they too settled for a field goal from 42 yards away. It become apparent after this first quarter that the game would likely come down to defensive play.
2nd Quarter - Once again the Texans put together a steady drive, converting third downs and chewing up clock, but they once again had to settle as the Broncos D held them to a 28 yard field goal. After a couple of three and outs on both sides, Denver then steadily and methodically took the rest of the quarter and finally punched it to the end zone on a 3 yard pass to Dreessen. And so the half ended.
3rd Quarter - The Broncos got the ball to start the second half, giving them a great chance to extend their lead. Unfortunately, Manning attempted a dangerous pass on an out route, the route was jumped, and the Texans intercepted the ball and returned it 43 yards for a TD. The Broncos couldn’t get anything going on their ensuing possession, but fortunately the defense frustrated Houston’s offense, and so the teams traded punts the rest of the quarter.
4th Quarter - As has often happened in our Madden sims (and I don’t quite know why), the Texans finally shook things loose early in the final quarter as Johnson got free for a 71 yard TD pass.
With the pressure on, the Broncos drove down into the red zone, but in attempting to squeeze it in to the end zone, Manning was intercepted again. Fortunately, the Texans gave the ball right back on an interception of their own, and the next thing you know, Manning finds Tammee in the end zone on an 8 yard pass. Now, Denver just needs the ball back, but they can’t recover the onsides kick. Still, they just need to hold the Texans, but unfortunately, Foster, who had been kept in check most of the game, breaks loose on a 48 yard scamper to the end zone. Manning, however, comes right back and connects with Decker on 54 yard pass for a TD.
Sadly, the Broncos still couldn’t recover the onsides kick, and with no more time left, there was nothing more Manning and the Broncos could do.
Manning ended a disappointing day 22 of 34 for 335 yards, 3 TDs and 2 costly INTs. Foster was kept in check most of the game, but still ended with 17 carries for 87 yards and 1 TD. McGahee had 16 carries for 44 yards, but never found the end zone. Meanwhile, Dreessen and Decker had the bulk of the receiving work, getting 5 catches and 3 catches respectively for 78 yards and 77 yards a TD each. So in the end, it was the Texans defense that made the plays which really made the difference. It’s going to be a tough test for Manning and the Broncos, hopefully they can rise to the occasion.