Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow, Broncos getting better reviews at home than away: What a shock!

If your only knowledge of the Broncos' 34-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers last night came from watching Denver-TV roundups after the game, you'd think the boys in orange and blue turned in a dominating performance on both sides of the ball -- and the Denver Post accentuated the positive to the virtual exclusion of the negative, too. So why do the likes of this piece tell such a different story? Because actual objectivity about the Broncos leads to more question marks than exclamation points.

Yes, the Broncos managed two interception returns for touchdowns and got some decent pressure on Steelers' signal callers -- but they didn't do it against alleged sexual assaulter/four-to-six-game suspendee Ben Roethlisberger, who looked confident and unhurried during his relatively brief time under center. Indeed, Roethlisberger would almost certainly have led his squad to a touchdown instead of a field goal if a third-down pass deep in Broncos territory hadn't been off the mark. In other words, Big Ben was responsible for that particular stop, not the D.

As for the Broncos' offense, Kyle Orton still relies far too heavily on three-yard outs. Is that because he's simply running Coach Josh McDaniels' dink-and-dunk offense? Or has McDaniels tweaked the play calling because Orton isn't capable of consistently completing passes down the field? Whatever the case, opposing defenses will be able to do to him what they did during the final ten games of last season: keep everything in front of them, thereby preventing the Broncos from building any offensive momentum.

And when Orton tries to press the issue instead of acting as a low-key game manager? He does things like throwing a pick to William Gay, which he did toward the end of the first half.

As for Tim Tebow, he looked excitingly inconsistent -- again. He threw a touchdown pass, but he also tossed an interception, and he completed just half of his passes. That might have worked at the University of Florida, where he could have supplemented those numbers with yardage on the ground. But this is the NFL, and five out of ten completions just isn't going to cut it.

Not that anyone in these parts seems overly concerned at this point. Hell, Post columnist Mark Kiszla sees the Broncos as a possible playoff team, given the weakness of the AFC West this season. But that's only if every possible planet aligns, not just in our solar system, but all of them throughout the vastness of space.

It could happen, of course. But last night's win makes it seem like a very long shot, despite the lopsidedness of the final score.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts