Denial puts Denver in blissful state
DENVER - Champ Bailey figured the last play was his to make.
Why not? Tony Romo had been testing him all afternoon, even though he kept acing every exam.
“I welcome it. Please do. That’s the only way I get a chance to make plays,’’ said Bailey, who had eight tackles, broke up four passes, and made one key interception in Denver’s 17-10 win over Dallas yesterday.
His biggest play came with one second left, when he knocked away the potential tying touchdown pass from Romo to Sam Hurd on fourth and goal from the 2.
With the blitz coming, Romo quickly fired toward Hurd cutting across the middle. Bailey reached around and swatted the pass away with his left hand, giving the Broncos their first 4-0 start since 2003.
“Maybe they thought they could catch Champ sleeping,’’ teammate D.J. Williams surmised. “One of the top corners in the league, my last play, I wouldn’t go toward him.’’
Romo would. Again.
“They’re good all over,’’ Romo insisted of Denver’s top-ranked defense. “I understand Champ’s good. It’s questionable. I think you could go either way on that call. It’s a bang-bang play and the corner’s always driving on the ball. If he gets to the ball early, that’s part of the game . . . Those are always going to be contested throws.’’
The Broncos had taken the lead on Kyle Orton’s 51-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall, providing some vindication for the Pro Bowl receiver whose temper tantrum during training camp earned him a nine-day suspension from coach Josh McDaniels.
By the look of their emotional embrace on the sideline after he zigzagged his way into the end zone, Marshall and McDaniels have reconciled.
On the other sideline, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, coach Wade Phillips, and cornerback Terence Newman were swearing a flag should have been thrown on Marshall for offensive pass interference.
“I couldn’t have played that play any better,’’ Newman said.
The Cowboys reached the Broncos’ 2 with nine seconds left. Romo spiked the ball on second and goal, then Bailey knocked away a high pass intended for Hurd before swatting away the last one that was right on the money.
Bailey, who picked off Romo at the Denver 3 in the third quarter, wasn’t surprised Romo would test him one final time because the blitz was designed to coerce a quick pass to his man.
“If you want to keep testing me, putting the pressure on me, I’m with you,’’ Bailey said.
Denver’s defenders filed into the locker room crowing about having proved the critics wrong for blasting them this offseason and then dismissing their 3-0 start against bad offenses. They’ll have more to prove next weekend against the Patriots, who blasted the Broncos, 41-7, last Oct. 20 at Gillette Stadium.