Playoff Hopes All But Gone as Broncos Beat Bad 31-13

Denver Broncos tight end Tony Scheffler (88) loses the ball after crossing the goal line for a touchdown as Houston Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans (59) hits him during the third quarter of a football game Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007 in Houston. The play was ruled a touchdown before Scheffler fumbled the ball.
In what has already been an up and down season with more twists and turns than a Six Flags roller coaster, the Broncos Thursday night all but were eliminated in the AFC Playoff race by a Houston Texans team with a backup QB, backup RB, and players most around the league had never even heard of.

The Texans defense put the boom down on the Broncos at Reliant Stadium, pounding them 31-13 with another solid night of offense and a defense that held the Broncos high powered ground game in check.  Coming off a career-game last week vs the Chiefs, the Broncos Selvin Young was held to just 34 yards on 8 carries.  Travis Henry had just 27 yards on 10 carries, and on the night the team had just 69 yards against a tough Texans run defense.

On offense, the Texans put up 358 yards, with Ron Dayne and Darius Walker combining for 133 yards on 24 carries and a score.  Sage Rosenfels once again played well for the injured Matt Schaub, as he threw for 200 yards on 16-for-27 passing and while he threw for one score, he also ran one in.  Rosenfels capped off a 69-yard score with a 5-yard run to give Houston a 7-0 lead with 11:04 left in the first quarter.

Denver got a field goal from Jason Elam to cut the deficit to 7-3 with 8:49 left in the second quarter.  After Kris Brown countered with a 41-yard field goal on the following drive, Elam again booted a 47-yard field goal with 4:31 left in the quarter to make it 7-6 at the half.  The Texans then imposed their will, dominating the second half for the most part.  It started with a 9-play, 66-yard drive that ended with a Dayne TD to make it 17-6.  The Broncos got a TD when Jay Cutler hit Tony Scheffler with a 12-yard TD to make it 17-13 with 0:36 left in the third.

Then in the fourth Rosenfels led a drive that put the game away, as he took the Texans down the field and hit Andre Johnson with a four-yard score with 10:06 left to make it 24-13.  The Broncos in the second half were not able to generate much else than the lone TD, and other than that had three possessions end in downs, and another in a punt.  Cutler ended the night 27-for-39 for 254 yards with the one TD.

In five second half possessions the Texans put up 208 yards, mixing the runs of Dayne and Walker and the solid passing of Rosenfels, who in the last two weeks has gotten wins over the Buccaneers and Broncos.  The loss for Denver all but eliminates them from the playoff race as they now sit at 6-8, while the Texans improve to 7-7.  The Broncos play Monday night Christmas eve vs the Chargers.


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