Scor­ing could be Mile High

Bron­cos, Ea­gles pit­ted in matchup of two best of­fences

SundayXtra - - SPORTS FOOTBALL - By Arnie Sta­ple­ton

DEN­VER — The Bron­cos host the Ea­gles to­day at Sports Au­thor­ity Field, and the daz­zling new 8,800- square foot score­board, the largest out­side of Texas and the cen­ter­piece of a $ 30- mil­lion sta­dium up­grade, should get its big­gest test yet.

D en­ver leads the league with an av­er­age of 487 yards of of­fence, and Philadel­phia is sec­ond at 462.

Th­ese are byprod­ucts of the speed phi­los­o­phy Chip Kelly de­vel­oped at Oregon and took to Philly and Adam Gase’s turbo- charg­ing of Den­ver’s of­fence in his first year as co- or­di­na­tor. It’s given a whole new mean­ing to Pey­ton Man­ning’s fa­mous cry, “Hur- ry! Hur- ry!”

The Bron­cos ( 3- 0) move in and out of the no- hud­dle of­fence to throw off de­fences and they lead the league with a 43- point av­er­age. The Ea­gles ( 1- 2) go full- tilt from the get- go but they’ve hit some speed bumps along the way.

“I love go­ing fast,” Philly’s Michael Vick said. “There’s noth­ing bet­ter.”

Vick echoes Man­ning, how­ever, in say­ing no mat­ter how ex­pe­di­tious the of­fence, it all comes down to ex­e­cu­tion.

“Just be­cause you lined up fast doesn’t mean you’re go­ing to line up and do it right,” Vick said.

“Speed, tempo, all those things, it just means noth­ing if you’re not ex­e­cut­ing your as­sign­ments,” Man­ning con­curred.

Both teams are in the bot­tom third of the league in pass de­fence, so ev­ery­one’s ex­pect­ing a shootout — un­less, of course, all that prac­tice against their re­spec­tive of­fences pays off in shut­ting down this highly an­tic­i­pated aerial fire­works show. Five other things to watch for:

Man­ning is the first quar­ter­back in NFL his­tory to throw a dozen TD passes through three games, and he’s the first since Vick in 2010 to have that many touch­down throws with­out an in­ter­cep­tion.

Vick’s first in­ter­cep­tion that year came in his eighth game.

Man­ning is com­ing off a ca­reer- best 86.5 com­ple­tion per­cent­age against Oakland, when he was 32 of 37 and his re­ceivers dropped four passes.

“We know we have to come out and score points, but our mind­set can’t be to try to match what they do,” Vick said. “We just... have to do ev­ery­thing right on our part and see where it goes.”

The Bron­cos be­lieve they’ll have a built- in ad­van­tage be­cause it’s hard for teams to come to Den­ver and run the hurry- up at al­ti­tude. Soon enough, their lungs are burn­ing and they’re gasp­ing for air.

“Yeah, I’ve played here many times as a com­peti­tor and early you feel it,” Bron­cos coach John Fox said. “How you ad­just is dif­fer­ent for ev­ery op­po­nent and it’s prob­a­bly the best home­field ad­van­tage in the NFL. That’s why I think our home record is so good.”

Den­ver mid­dle line­backer Wes­ley Wood­yard said the al­ti­tude is no joke.

“There is no hype about that al­ti­tude. The al­ti­tude is a dif­fer­ent beast,” Wood­yard said.

Bron­cos cor­ner­back Do­minique Rodgers- Cro­mar­tie spent the last two sea­sons in Philadel­phia and had plenty of 1- on- 1 matchups with Ea­gles speedy wide re­ceiver De­Sean Jack­son in prac­tice.

“When that ball’s in the air, he hits another gear,” Rodgers- Cro­mar­tie said. “And it’s hard as a cor­ner to try to stay with him, stay with him and then he just takes off. Most peo­ple don’t have that ex­tra gear that he has.”

When Jack­son called him this week, D. R. C. asked, “Who’s this?”

“I’ve got to treat him like a stranger, he ain’t a friend right now. It’s go­ing to be very com­pet­i­tive.”

Champ Bai­ley hopes to make his 2013 de­but on Sun­day, 44 days af­ter hurt­ing his left foot at Seat­tle in the pre­sea­son. Also aching with sprained an­kles are start­ing safety Duke Ihenacho and nickel back Tony Carter.

Not ex­actly good news with the likes of Vick, Jack­son and McCoy on tap.

“It’s go­ing to be hard,” Do­minique Rodger­sCro­mar­tie said. “You’ve got three guys that can take it the dis­tance from any­where on the field.”

— The As­so­ci­ated Press


Red- hot Den­ver Bron­cos quar­ter­back Pey­ton Man­ning tells his of­fence to ‘ Hur- ry!’


Ea­gles quar­ter­back Michael Vick leads the NFL’s sec­ond- ranked to­tal- yards of­fence.

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