NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Pertinent numbers and notes in the wake of the Broncos’ 17-14 loss to the Tennessee Titans here in Week 3:
46.2: Kyle Orton’s quarterback rating the last two years on possessions that began in the last 10 minutes of regulation when trailing by eight points or less.
The series that ended in a tipped Will Witherspoon interception with 1:39 remaining in the game was the 11th that Orton and the Broncos have faced in in that scenario since Week 1 of the 2010 season. From these 11 possessions, the Broncos have scored just once: last year in Week 4 at Tennessee, when Orton hit Correll Buckhalter for a game-winning, 6-yard touchdown two plays after a 49-yard pass-interference penalty put the Broncos into first-and-goal.
Orton’s raw statistics in this scenario the last two years are as follows:
- Completions-attempts: 22-of-46
- Yards: 267
- Completion percentage: 47.8
- Yards per attempt: 5.80
- Touchdowns: 1
- Rushes-yards: 3 for 12
- Yards per carry: 4.0
- Sacks-yards lost: 5 for 27
- Interceptions: 3
- Fumbles lost: 1
Obviously, not everything comes down to the quarterback, and the Broncos haven’t lost 20 of their last 25 games based solely on how Orton has fared. But the bottom line is how the drives end for the team.
That said, here’s how the 11 possessions in this scenario break down by result:
- Touchdowns: 1
- Field goals: 0
- Interceptions: 3
- Fumbles: 2 (one his, one on a wayward snap)
- Turnovers on downs: 3
- Punts: 2
But if anyone tells you that Orton has always struggled like this in late-game comeback situations, they’re wrong. In 2009, Orton was 15-of-24 for 260 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in the same scenario, good for a 109.7 rating.
The Broncos scored on four of the six possessions they had in this scenario in 2009: touchdowns at Cincinnati and against New England and field goals against Dallas and at Philadelphia.
Even when dismissing the miracle 87-yard tip-drill pass to Brandon Stokley against the Bengals, the Broncos still scored on three of the five possessions with Orton in this scenario two years ago, although his rating drops precipitously, to 80.5.
22-for-52: Carries and yardage for Willis McGahee on Sunday. He became the 13th running back in Broncos history and third in the last three years to post at least 20 carries but gain less than 60 yards in a game. Correll Buckhalter did it in 2009 (20 for 51 against the Giants) and Knowshon Moreno did in 2010 (24 for 51 against the Seahawks). Denver won both games.
This stat did not occur at all for the Broncos from 1992-2008, and Sunday’s loss was the first since Dec. 9, 1990 in which the Broncos had a 20-plus-carry, sub-60-yard game.
21: Tennessee running back Chris Johnson’s yardage total, the third lowest for a single game in his career. His 1.6 yards per carry also represented the third-worst single-game average of his career; the only two games that were worse were last year against the Texans in Houston (seven carries, five yards) and in 2008 at Chicago (14 carries; eight yards).
Johnson’s average of 37.0 yards per game against the Broncos is the lowest of any opponent he’s faced multiple times in his four-season career.
134: Career receiving yardage for Tennessee tight end Craig Stevens over 45 games prior to Sunday.
58: Yardage Stevens gained on one reception to set up the game-winning touchdown, which more than doubled his previous career long 28-yard catch.
“It was just busted coverage,” said Broncos linebacker Joe Mays, who was trailing on the play and noted that the team was in zone coverage. “We’ve got to make sure those things don’t happen — especially in crunch time like that.”
24: Number of times in their history the Broncos have allowed less than 40 rushing yards and under 2.0 yards per carry, as they did Sunday, holding Tennessee to 38 yards on 23 rushes (a 1.65-yard average).
19-5: Denver’s record in those games, which curiously includes consecutive losses with that statistic. The Broncos fell to Indianapolis 27-13 a year ago this week in spite of holding them to 40 yards on 22 carries.