November 29, 2009
ENGLEWOOD — The Denver Broncos’ red zone struggles led to some red faces at the NFL Network.
Even though his players heeded his admonition to channel their emotions in a more positive direction after losing their composure in a loss to the San Diego Chargers four nights earlier, Broncos coach Josh McDaniels’ expletive-filled harangue was accidentally aired for a national Thanksgiving audience of ear-witnesses.
After blowing their second first-and-goal opportunity of the night with three false starts by three different players that resulted in a short field goal, McDaniels was livid, as just about any coach would be.
After all, this was a home game, so crowd noise couldn’t be blamed for the false starts by tight end Daniel Graham, left tackle Ryan Clady and center Casey Wiegmann.
“It was frustrating to get down for the second time and to have some mishaps,” quarterback Kyle Orton said after Denver recovered for a 26-6 win that snapped a four-game losing streak. “We had some pretty much dumb penalties. That’s been our Achilles’ heel, penalties and the red zone offense.”
The Broncos are accustomed to McDaniels’ emotional sideline demeanor, so this blowup was no surprise.
“It’s great to have a coach like that, you know, emotional,” Orton said. “We’ve got a lot of emotion on our offense. I think our guys appreciate it and thrive off of it.”
Coming back from a commercial, however, the network showed a clip of McDaniels yelling at his offense and uttering two profanities that should have been bleeped out.
The NFL Network repeatedly apologized Thursday night and on Friday, the network did so again.
“We are sorry for the mistake last night,” NFL Network spokesman Dennis Johnson told The Associated Press. “NFL Network will conduct a thorough review to ensure it never happens again.”
Broncos linemen would be wise to ensure they avoid similar meltdowns themselves.
Against the Giants, it didn’t cost them as they rolled to a 20-point win, but during their monthlong losing streak, the Broncos’ proclivity for penalties cost them yardage, opportunities and composure.
As for McDaniels’ reaction to being caught on camera cursing at his bumbling team, the coach offered no apologies for his obscenities.
“That’s their business,” McDaniels said of the league network’s gaffe. “And the fact is we went over there and tried to have a little bit of an eye to eye.”
He wasn’t about to censor his comments to his players, either.
“No, I have no idea where the camera was. I was just trying to do what I thought was best at the time,” McDaniels said.
McDaniels, one of the most demonstrative head coaches in the NFL, stocked his roster with passionate players. He spoke earlier in the week about them having to channel their emotions in the right way after they lost their collective composure in a 32-3 loss to San Diego.
Sure enough, they used their energy and emotions more productively against the Giants.
“We have wanted to get the W for the last month. So, this one gave us some relief,” safety Renaldo Hill said. “This one let us walk out of here feeling good.”
Brandon Marshall and Knowshon Moreno, who got into a sideline spat that included a shove during their loss to the Chargers, led the Broncos’ clock-eating offense that wore down the Giants.
Moreno ran for 88 yards and would have had 122 were it not for two holding calls on Graham. And Marshall had six catches for 86 yards, including a right-handed grab on the right sideline and a left-handed reception on the left sideline.
“He said I was going to see the Beast tonight, I guess that’s what it means,” McDaniels said. “Because those are catches that only special players make. ... There aren’t many people in the league who can do that.”
“Kyle told me to stop making him look bad,” Marshall cracked. “They were great balls and he said I could have caught them with two hands.”
Safety Brian Dawkins led Denver’s inspired effort on defense 48 hours after calling a players-only meeting to salvage their sinking season. He led the team with eight tackles, broke up two passes, and forced and recovered a fumble.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be around another player that has the spirit that Brian Dawkins does,” McDaniels said. “And his leadership, the quality of it, just his personal, his positive attitude, the things he brings to our team every day, what a great example for every player, every coach, whether they’re young or old.”