Denver win no
thrill in Vegas

Aug 29, 2006 1:47 AM

Perhaps the 17-14 preseason win over Houston was viewed as a success in Denver, but it failed miserably in Las Vegas.

That is, of course, if you had the underdog Texans and getting six points. Most of the public did not. In fact, they drove the odds up from 3½ during the week. Denver’s ho-hum effort should be repeated Thursday at Arizona, the final preseason game.

The smart money should have been on the young Texans, whose coach Gary Kubiak spent a number of seasons on Mike Shanahan’s staff. The two are very good friends, so it’s understandable Shanahan would not want to run the score up.

However, it was disturbing to see the Denver defense allow a late touchdown and subsequent two-point conversion that reduced a 17-6 advantage to just four points.

It certainly was hard to gauge how far along the Broncos are in their preparation for their NFL season opener at St. Louis, where the Rams are currently a 3½ home underdog. Jake Plummer played a half and was decent. Top draft pick Jay Cutler continued his fine QB play in the second half and the running game was OK.

Don’t expect much on Thursday as both teams should be treating this final tuneup as just that. Arizona is a 2½ point favorite over Denver and may have more incentive to look good in front of their crowd at the new stadium in Glendale.

All we could really gain from the Texans game is that a QB controversy is not long from occurring. Cutler looks very comfortable behind center and his arm strength has the fans wanting more of him and less of the mistake-prone Plummer.

The running game has been a worthy battle between Bells, with Mike having the edge over Tatum. The two combined for 56 yards on 19 carries.

It remains to be seen how the trade of WR Ashley Lelie to Atlanta affects the depth of the receiving corps. The starters look fine, most notably ex-Green Bay star Javon Walker with three first-half catches for 41 yards.

Defensively, linebacker D.J. Williams had a splendid game with five tackles, an interception and fumble recovery.