PASSING OFFENSE: D-minus -- Jay Cutler made his first start and struggled. He made a few nice throws but was often a bit off. He had about half of his yards on one 71-yard touchdown, but rookie Brandon Marshall caught a short pass and made a great run. The Broncos will have to experience some growing pains with Cutler, such as the second-quarter interception he threw that was returned for a touchdown, over the rest of the season.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Tatum Bell ran hard. The Broncos hope that will be a sign for the rest of the season, that his injured big toes won't hinder him in the final four games. They need Bell's explosiveness in the lineup. Bell had 133 yards Sunday night. With Cutler under center, the running game has to be effective to take pressure off the passing game.
PASS DEFENSE: B -- The Broncos played very well on defense through the first three quarters. The fourth quarter they allowed some big plays that cost them the game. Champ Bailey had a huge interception in the end zone in the third quarter, when the Broncos seemed in control of the game. Two long receptions by Seahawks WR Darrell Jackson in the fourth quarter started to turn the tide.
RUSH DEFENSE: B -- The Broncos allowed 90 rushing yards to Shaun Alexander, which came on 26 carries. Denver didn't allow Alexander many big plays and swarmed to him when he had the ball. One letdown cost Denver in a big way, however. Late in the game Alexander had an 8-yard run, and on the next play Josh Brown kicked a game-winning, 50-yard field goal.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- A huge fumble by kickoff returner Brian Clark in the fourth quarter was another bad mark on the special teams. Jason Elam hurt himself on a fake field-goal run in the second quarter, but the Broncos didn't really miss him. Elam kicked Denver's only extra point of the second half, and the Broncos didn't have any other field-goal opportunities.
COACHING: D -- Coach Mike Shanahan admitted he made the game plan too complicated for Cutler in his first start. That contributed to the problems on offense. Defensively the Broncos let down in the fourth quarter. Denver has blown three home games this season, to Indianapolis, San Diego and Seattle, and that will probably loom large in the AFC playoff race.
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