Welcome to Thursday Night Football - Jay Cutler vs. Brady Quinn. I can hardly contain myself. Kickoff is about a half a beer away - grab what you need and get ready to roll...
So here we go – a dilapidated Broncos team with any practice at all lines it up in the Dog Pound to take the kick. Excellent runback by Eddie Royal brings it out near the 40. Cutler's gunning it – complete to Scheffler for a huge gain inside the twenty five. Follows it up with with a ball that sails right through the hands of Brandon Marshall. Ryan Torain goes nowhere on the ground – maybe 2 at best. Cutler to Stokley in double coverage throws it away (wise move). Fourth down and they're bringing in Matt Prater to save the day.
So much for saving the day – kick sails wide right – Quinn gets some nice field position for his first NFL drive. This could turn into a long night…
Jamall Lewis on the ground for a few – Brady Quinn's first career pass is broken up by Jamie Winborn across the middle. Third and eight Quinn completes it to Steptoe but its short and the Browns are forced to punt. Eddie Royal fields it and get swamped immediately – Denver ball on their own 13.
Broncos running game is going nowhere – Cutler hits Marshall for a first down, moving it down to the 30. Quick toss to Nate Jackson for eight brings up second an 3. Down the sideline for Marshall connects and moves it down to the Browns 30. Thirty-four yard pick up on the play. Short toss to Royal tacks on 7 and Torain takes it off tackle for a first down. It's been a while since we've seen Denver on a roll.
First and ten from the 20 – Cutler to Eddie Royal near the goal line – COMPLETE – WOW - First and goal from less than one-yard. Torain gets slammed up the middle – 2nd and goal – Torain over the top TOUCHDOWN – I'm almost speechless. Prater adds the kick and Denver takes a 7-0 lead off a nine-play 86-yard drive. Maybe the magic's back, maybe the problem's solved, maybe I'm delusional – either way things are looking up.
Browns get a nice return off Prater's kick – Joshua Cribbs brings it back past the 40 – Here comes Quinn…
The kid rolls out – hits a wide open Dante Stallworth – now that's the Broncos defense I remember. Lewis on the ground gets inside the Broncos 35. Take 2 - Lewis up the middle walks through the entire Broncos line and takes it to the 4-yard line. Denver's defensive line is getting completely manhandled. Brady Quinn drops back and connects on his first career touchdown pass to Kellen Winslow – that was easy… I think I've got an infection. Browns tie it up 7-7 with a little over 3:00 left.
Denver follow up with a drive that has exactly one highlight – Ryan Torain busts it up the middle for a 19-yard gain. Other than that it's a bust – Kern's in to punt.
Brown take it on the 20 – might as well run it through Denver's defensive line – this is embarrassing – 13-yard pick up. Back to the ground and it's another huge pickup. Quarter comes to a close with a 7-7 tie.
Keep it on the ground - Browns are making it look easy - they're across midfield and it's like taking candy from babies. Quinn's inside the 30. I swear to god my grandmother could get some real estate on Denver's front line right now. Dawson hits the field goal and take a 10-7 lead.
I can see where this one's going.
Denver's drive starts at the 15 – Cutler to Marshall IN-COM-PLETE – oh, wait a minute wrong stadium. Torain on a nice pick up but it's brought back on a holding penalty on Daniel Graham – ball is moved back inside the 15. Cutler drops deep – INTERCEPTION number 11 by Rodney Poole. Browns will take it on the Broncos 20. Complete screw up on this on. Somebody's not on the same page. Marshall wasn't even running the rout Cutler was throwing to…
It's a gift wrap – Cleveland capitalizes with a 16-yard toss to Kellen Winslow and it's 17 unanswered points for the Browns as they take a nice 17-7 lead with 10:28 left in the first half.
I'm contemplating trying to catch an earlier flight home….
Denver gives it their best shot - and they're moving it. It isn't the pretties drive but it seems to be working. OUCH wait a minute...Great - Ryan Torain gets his knee jacked and Greek and the crew are walking him off the field. Is there any running backs left? Cutler hits Scheffler and the ball moves down inside the 20. Selvin Young's in the backfield but it's obvious he's still hurting. Cutler to Graham and it's through his fingers. Broncos follow up with a lame desperation pass in the end zone – Scheffler gets flagged for offensive interference – 10-yard penalty – repeat third down. That's interesting. Not sure why they took the penalty – Cutler connects with Marshall to get the penalty yards back – Prater in for a 35-yard attempt. Believe it or not its good and the Broncos cut the lead 17-10.
Eight plays – 45-yards later Cleveland piles it on with a 52-yard Phil Dawson field goal… Quinn's having a great debut – then again what better defense to make you first appearance on national television than the Broncos. There's under a minute left and Denver's got a mile of real estate for any points. Nice attempt – no score. This is less than pleasant. First half comes to a close with Brady Quinn and the Cleveland Brown with an easy 10-point lead.
It's not that Cleveland's a powerhouse – it's more a matter of Denver dropping like flies. Torains hurt, Nate Webster's out and they're contemplating suiting up the waterboy. I can't remember a time the depth chart has been this devastated… Browns take the second half kick and march 64-yards over ten plays and Dawson nails it from 33 out to give the big dogs a 23-10 lead. This is the point I'd start drinking if I was you (unless of course you already started, then I would pile on some more).
Broncos manage a breath of life… Cutler hits Royal for a sweet 16-yard gain – follows that one up with a beautiful 24-yard strike to Scheffler but, shock of the century, Scheffler pulls up lame – his return is questionable. It really couldn't get any worse if you're from the 5280. A little here, a little there – Denver manages to move it close enough for Prater to hit it from 30 – Cleveland leads by 10, 23-13. I still don't feel any better…
Browns take the kick with just over 5:30 left in the third – It's funny, if you look back I never thought I'd be worrying about Brady Quinn's NFL debut for this one… but I am.
Browns take it at the 29 and dink and dunk their way to the Broncos 47 as the third quarter comes to a close. Props to Cleveland – a really bad NFL team has found a way to exploit an even worse defensive team – Romeo's got my vote for coach of the week…
Browns drive stalls at midfield and Zanstudil punts it down to the Broncs 7-yard line. This will be tight…
I love Eddie Royal – one pass, one play, 93-yards. Broncos cut the lead to 23-20 with the longest play of the season – actually it's the longest play since 1981 when Craig Morton hit Steve Watson on a 95-yard pass. Maybe I'm feeling better...
The move has shifted – Browns take the ball and pull off with a 43-yard kick return putting the ball at the midfield. Incomplete to Edwards – Harrison off tackle for 4 – Quinn to Winslow for 8- but the ball is fumbled (Dre Bly deserves a beer for this one) and the Broncos take possession at their own 38.
I love the fact Cutler doesn't panic – after two straight incompletions, Cutler hits Royal for a 22-yard pick up. Follow that up with a 19-yard gain to Nate Jackson. Hillis on the ground drops one and before you know it it's JC on a 27-yard strike to Daniel Graham for the score. Broncos on a comeback 27-23.
Amazing – the Broncos have actually battled back to take the lead, the offense is clicking and it would be absolutely perfect if Denver had a defense that didn't stink. Rookie Brady Quinn leads a 9-play, 78-yard drive to put Cleveland back on top 30-27. I swear I'd be so pissed if I was Shanahan right now… I'd almost be cross-eyed – oh, wait a minute, never mind.
We've got just under 5:00 remaining – and it's all on the line now – Broncos ball on their own 20. Hillis off tackle for ten. Incomplete to Graham – incomplete to Jackson, who get nailed on the play. They're saying his return is doubtful – complete neck snap – dude gets rocked but he's back in. Cutler's marching it – they're down to the Browns 11-yard line and JC finds Marshall for 11 for the score. I've stopped biting my nails – Denver takes a 34-30 lead and I take back every bad thing I've ever said about the Broncos offense. At least for the moment. Denver leads 34-30 with 1:14 to go.
Let's see what Quinn's got left – toss to Winslow picks up nine – roll out incomplete – stops the clock – incomplete to Wright is off target – 4th and one – shotgun incomplete to Winslow and it's game, set, match – Broncos pull it off with less than a minute remaining.
Cutler - Kneel, kneel – end of game – believe it or not the Broncos rack it up 34-30.
It'll be a nice flight home…
Cutler throws down 447-yards passing with three touchdowns and one INT.
Eddie Royal picks up 164-yards on 6-catches and one touchdown
Denver picks up 564-total net yards
This was quite possibly the hardest Broncos win this year – but it worked and they're 5-4 with nine days off before they square off against Atlanta.
Schon: Denver Broncos Game Notes
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