DENVER—We hate to pull you away from that MLS title game featuring your Chicago Fire, but there's an American football game to be played.
The snow is piled out in the back of the end zone at Invesco Field on this unusually cold day in Denver. But, as is usually the case in Colorado, the sun is shining. Not on the Bears, however. They are one of two double-digit underdogs this week.
Jake Plummer signing. He visited Chicago for an afternoon but opted to sign with the Broncos. Meanwhile Kordell Stewart signed with the Bears and you know the rest.
Plummer is back, playing his second straight game after missing time with a broken foot he injured getting off his couch. What's never mentioned in this story is that Plummer's couch is 28 feet high.
And then there's Daryl Gardener. The defensive tackle went on a local sports radio show on Friday and ripped Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. As these things usually turn out, the coach wins. Shanahan, whom Gardener referred to as "that little man upstairs," had already suspended the free-agent flop before he went off and likely will cut him. Gardener had some other creative things to say--some of them unprintable.
These type of shenanigans would be welcomed in Chicago in the midst of this boring, lost season. Instead we'll continue with the Dick Jauron and Rex Grossman watch.
Speaking of which, Grossman again is listed as the No. 3 QB, which means if the Bears lose this one, look for the kid to get some clock next week against Arizona. That is if the Bears aren't awarded five wins during the week by the league office.
Football soon .
Yes, it's cold. Eight-degree wind chill cold. You know you're in Denver when there's a blonde woman riding a white horse up and down the field during before the game.
The Bears win their first toss in 10 games and they take the ball. Azumah takes the kick out to the 31 and we're off. Thomas runs right on a counter and picks up 4. Chris Chandler continues his inaccurate ways and over-throws Marty Booker on his first pass of the game. Chandler goes back to Booker near the marker. They're short and the Bears will go for it on fourth-and-1. It looks like the old try-and-draw-'em-offsides move, but they eventually snap it and Chandler dives for 3. Thomas runs twice for a few and then Chandler goes to Dez White over the middle and White drops it. Brad Maynard will punt. The Broncos jump but it won't be enough for the first. Maynard punts again and shanks it 28 yards out at the Denver 22.
Clinton Portis runs for 5 on the Broncos' first play from scrimmage. Plummer drops back on second down, doesn't see much and takes off, sliding at the marker. Portis picks up 5 more and then breaks one for 12, running right by Brian Urlacher. Plummer hits Rod Smith for 8 and the Broncos are moving early. Portis runs right but Jerry Azumah grabs him from behind with a nice tackle. Portis picked up the first, though. Plummer is pressured and nearly sacked but managed to get it off to Portis for 7 yards down to the Bears' 34. On a naked bootleg, Plummer gets the first. The Bears can't stop them. Plummer lofts a beautiful pass to Ed McCaffery in the end zone but McCaffery, playing his first game in four weeks, drops the ball. He had beaten Azumah badly. Really badly. We're back after an interminable commercial break and rookie running back Quentin Griffin breaks one down to the 1. Great run. Keith Traylor and Mike Brown both blew tackles before Azumah got him near the goal line. Play action to Portis, Plummer rolls right and hits Smith in the corner of the end zone.
Broncos 7, Bears 0
Right off the bat the Broncos go 78 yards in what seemed like an hour.
Azumah makes a great return into Broncos' territory--the 45, to be exact. Former Bronco Desmond Clark catches a short pass and picks up 16. Pritchett takes an inside handoff and gets 10. Hey, a short field and the Bears are moving. Chandler tried for Terrell in the end zone. Terrell is bumped but the refs rule the pass uncatchable. What else is new? Chandler goes back to Terrell, but for 4 yards. Here we go again, Chandler throws another uncatchable ball to Terrell. Edinger will try a 33-yarder and it's good. That was all Azumah's return there.
Broncos 7, Bears 3
Portis picks up a few running right and is nailed by a Bears coach. I think DB coach Vance Bedford, but I'm not sure. Warrick Holdman comes on a blitz and nearly gets Plummer, but the QB got rid of it. McQuarters is called for offsides, giving the Broncos a first. More play action from Plummer. It freezes Alex Brown and Plummer finds Shannon Sharpe wide open in the middle of the field at the Bears' 48.
After a Plummer incompletion and a 4-yard run by Portis, Bobby Gray comes on a safety blitz and just nails Plummer from the blind side. Great hit. Despite the contract extension, the injured Mike Green may have lost his starting job to Gray. Denver punts.