ENGLEWOOD - The Denver Broncos failed in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s lastminute loss to the New York Giants because of several reasons, but coach Mike Shanahan said his playcalling wasn’t one of them.
On Monday, Shanahan defended Denver’s offensive approach in the fourth quarter. After the Broncos took a 23-10 lead, they called six passes and four runs. “If you would say we played cautiously in this game, that means you weren’t at the game,” Shanahan said. The Broncos couldn’t sustain drives, however, and lost with five seconds remaining on Eli Manning’s touchdown pass to Amani Toomer. Needing a first down or two to run out the clock, the Broncos ran twice for 5 yards, and a short third-down pass to running back Tatum Bell was batted away. “It’s different saying, ‘playing cautiously’ and ‘giving up a lead,’” Shanahan said. “We threw the ball quite a bit in the fourth quarter. So you have to take a look at the plays and take a look at what was going on to say you played cautiously. If you say that you weren’t very effective, I would agree with you there.” The Broncos — or quarter- back Jake Plummer — made odd choices in a couple of key situations. Twice on third downs, Bell went in motion out of the backfield, and Plummer threw to him. Bell dropped the first pass. Giants cornerback Will Allen knocked away the second. The Broncos punted on the next play, and Manning began the game-winning drive. The Broncos have been more conservative in the passing game this season, and that has helped avoid turnovers. Plummer hasn’t thrown an interception in five games. But the Broncos had only 194 yards passing and couldn’t get a completion on their last drive. Fullback Kyle Johnson didn’t think the play-calling got any tighter when the Broncos took a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter. “I definitely feel like we were playing our game,” Johnson said. “Were we executing like we could have and should have? I think there’s definitely room for improvement.” Shanahan, who after New England almost beat Denver with a fourth-quarter comeback said “common sense” dictates that a team usually will let up after taking a big lead, said he will try to emphasize finishing games better during practice this week. “You can’t rest, even when you get a big lead,” Shanahan said. “This is the National Football League, and these guys are getting paid on the other side of the ball, and they’re going to make plays. We have to keep our focus and grind it out for 60 minutes. We can’t feel good being up by 14 points, 10 points, 12 points, whatever it may be in the middle of the fourth quarter.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 476-4891 or firstname.lastname@example.org NEXT Philadelphia (4-2) at Denver (5-2), 2:15 p.m. Sunday, Fox, 740/850 AM