When I saw "Borderline Calls Leave Broncos Steamed," the article that led off the Rocky Mountain News' post-mortem about the Broncs' ridiculous 24-17 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, I nearly plotzed into my Count Chocula. Sure, there were several questionable penalties that went against the team, most notably a late interference flag that essentially locked up the victory for the visitors. But if any squad should bag the bitching about refereeing, it's the Broncos -- and I'm not the only one who feels that way. Witness the amusing e-mail sent to the FM 104.3/The Fan morning show, which read, "I can't believe anyone would complain about officiating in Denver. Signed, Ed Hochuli."
Hochuli, as you'll recall, was the official whose premature whistling of a Jay Cutler fumble resulted in a Broncos win against the San Diego Chargers earlier this season. As for Sunday's game, even if the interference call hadn't gone against the Broncos at the worst possible time, chances were mighty good the Jags would have kept marching anyway. After all, the play in question was only second down, and the Broncos defense, after an acceptable performance against the offense-challenged Tampa Bay Bucs the week before, had proven incapable of stopping David Garrard and company all day long. No sustained pass rush (as usual). The tendency to give up long running plays, as well as lots of four-yard-plus bursts (as usual). The inability to step up in crucial situations (as usual).
Simply put, the Broncos will only be able to win games this season if the offense is virtually flawless, or if Ed Hochuli referees every game -- and is willing to take a few bucks to look the other way.
While Pat Bowlen checks into this last prospect, check out the video below -- a satire of Hochuli's blown call against the Chargers. -- Michael Roberts
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