Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Denver Broncos vs. Green Bay Packers, October 10, 1993

The final game of The Canon Review Football Fix Weekend (and yes, I know it's not the weekend anymore, but due to connectivity issues this post was delayed a day) features two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time playing in a week 6 game from 1993 as John Elway led the Denver Broncos against Brett Favre's Green Bay Packers. The Packers got out to a quick 17-0 lead, then went into halftime leading 30-7. But John Elway and the Broncos wouldn't go away, as the Broncos got within three points before finally falling to the Pack 30-27. A few notes about this game.

- Back in 1993, Brett Favre wasn't a quarterback revered by the media for his gunslinging ways and 'playing like a kid out there'. Instead he was a talented young quarterback who had trouble handling the blitz and sometimes moved too fast for his own good. In this game, Favre was rahter inconsistent. In the first half, Favre was great, constantly finding the open man and throwing a 66 yard touchdown to tight end Jackie Harris. In the second half, Favre didn't do so well, as he threw three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Denver LB Mike Croel (and probably shouldn't have counted as the receiver was clearly interfered with). One pick was really bad in particular, as Favre panicked on a safety blitz and threw a wobbling duck in the air that landed in the hands of CB Le-Lo Lang that gave the ball back to the Broncos on the Green Bay 43 with just over two minutes left. I mean, as soon as Favre let go of the ball, I knew exactly what was going to happen. To be fair to Favre, he didn't have any help at all from his running game (Favre had his team's longest run with a 17 yard scamper in the first quarter), so the Broncos pretty much played the pass for most of the second half because they knew Green Bay couldn't run on them, so that may have contributed to Favre's poor second half. Also, it was refreshing to watch a game with Brett Favre in it where the announcers didn't bend over backwards trying to explain that a Favre INT was somehow the receiver's fault, as TNT announcers (yes this game was on TNT) Gary Bender and Pat Haden were fair with Favre instead of deifying him like some current announcers have done in recent seasons.

- As for the other legendary quarterback, John Elway actually set a career high for moss passes thrown in a game with 59, and most completions with 33 (although that record was later topped). It's not surprising that Elway threw so much since the Broncos trailed big early and basically spent the last three quarters in a hurry-up offense, but despite the Packers constantly playing nickel and dime packages, Elway did rather well. His favorite target during the game was WR Vance Johnson, who made his impact felt on the game with 10 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown. Not only that, but Johnson made two or three remarkable catches and always seemed to make the catch just when the Broncons needed another third-down conversion. Elway's legendary arm strength was on display in this one, as he threw a couple of passes that almost went through his receivers, and threw one to Johnson so fast that even though a Packer was nearly in front of him, Elway's pass somehow got through for a first down.

- The Packers came into this game 1-3 after signing the biggest free agent of all time, DE Reggie White. Before the game, the announcers stated that Reggie went to the coaching staff and told them that despite the poor start, he still felt that coming to Green Bay was the right decision. Well, good for Reggie for not panicking after his first four games of a five year contract. I mean, what did they expect him to say, that the Packers suck and he should have gone to San Francisco or Miami instead? Anyway, Reggie had a whale of a ball game here, getting three sacks and many pressures on Elway. White was lined up against Denver OT Russell Freeman all game long, and poor Russell never had a chance. When White bull-rushed, he'd go through Freeman. When White decided to go to the outside, he got by Freeman with ease. When Freeman decided to block low, White hurdled over him and still got heat on the quarterback. With less than two minutes left in the game and the Broncos just outside of field-goal range, White decided that he'd just go ahead and clinch the win himself, getting back-to-back sacks on Denver's final two plays of the game. Simply put, White was the best player on the field that night.

- Denver's defense played excellent in the second half, but in the first half they weren't so good. TE Jackie Harris particularly gave them trouble, as for the game he caught 5 passes for 128 yards and a 66-yard touchdown. Most of Harris's catches came against Denver ILB Karl Mecklenburg, a fine player in his own right but also a player that struggled to keep up with the much faster Harris. Harris was actually the perfect player for Brett Favre, a tight end with downfield speed who could also make the tough catch in the middle of the field. Instead of becoming a star in Green Bay in playing in Super Bowls, Harris decided to chase the money and signed with Tampa Bay after the 1993 season, and was really never quite as good as he was during the 1992 and 1993 seasons for the Packers, while the Packers moved on with Mark Chmura taking his spot. No offense to Chmura, but Harris was the better athlete and better pass-catcher (although Harris wasn't much of a blocker) and had Harris stayed in Green Bay, I'm willing to bet that Chmura would have either been on the bench or on another team during Green Bay's Super Bowl run.

- Denver had a couple of key plays late in the fourth quarter that went the other way against them. On third down and inside Green Bay territory with less than four minutes to go, Elway fired a pass to rookie WR Tony Kimbourgh that hit the rookie in the hands and bounced to the ground (and also led Kimbourgh straight into S Mike Prior, who creamed him). On the next play, Elway seemed to convert a fourth down with a pass to WR Derek Russell at the 25 yard line, but a false start by Freeman nullified the play and led to the Broncos punting it away. If either play goes the Broncos way, K Jason Elam more than likely kicks a field goal and takes the game into overtime, or Elway leads the Broncos to another touchdown and gets yet another comeback victory, as it looked as if the Packers' offense was so out of sync that it would be hard to imagine them scoring after blowing a 23 point lead.

- A couple of other tidbits from this game: One, two sets of brothers, the Sharpes (Sterling and Shannon), and the Widells (Doug and Dave) played against each other in the game. In fact, the announcers mentioned that the Sharpe brothers had a $20,000 bet for who would have the most catches at the end of the season. Sterling won by the way, with a total of 112 to Shannon's 81. Second, despite being in the NFL for 24 seasons, this was the Broncos' first trip to Lambeau Field. Third, John Elway and Brett Favre would only fave each other twice in their careers, the first being this game, and the second being Super Bowl XXXII, where the Broncos won 31-24.

Well, that's all for now. I think I've overdosed on football for the time being, although since there probably won't be NFL football for three years the only option I'll have is to watch classic NFL games such as this. After this game, both teams would go on to make the playoffs, with the Broncos losing to the Los Angeles Raiders in the first round and the Packers beating the Detroit Lions before falling to the Dallas Cowboys in the second round. Well, thanks for reading, and if you any ideas for future posts, or thoughts about this post, than either leave a comment on the blog or send them to me at e-mail at KtheC2001@gmail.com.

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