Broncos Update Insider - 12/3

As the weather gets poor, the Broncos know they have a quarterback who is equipped to handle it. Quarterback Jay Cutler is proving to be a good bad-weather passer.

He has played well before in his career in rain, cold and snow, but never better than he did in steady rain at Giants Stadium against the Jets. Cutler played as if there weren't a cloud in the sky, completing 27 of 43 passes for 357 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

"Some guys can throw it in the rain and other guys can't," coach Mike Shanahan said. "Jay is one of those guys that embraces the rain."

Cutler is from Santa Claus, Ind., so he grew up in a climate that could turn nasty in winter. Denver has its share of snowy days in December and January -- when it appears the Broncos will be hosting at least one playoff game. They have a three-game lead in the AFC West with four games to play.

"I don't know if 'like' is the right word," Cutler said about playing in bad conditions. "I don't mind it. They keep the balls pretty dry, and it wasn't raining too bad."

Knowing Cutler can play well when the weather isn't great helps the Broncos. They don't have to change the game plan much. They knew the strength of the Jets defense was stopping the run, but they didn't have to scale back the passing game. Denver attempted about twice as many pass plays as run plays in a 34-17 win.

"If you don't let it creep in your mind and think about it all the time and do what you got to do, I think you'll be fine," Cutler said.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Broncos players weren't happy to hear Jets fans booing when injury timeouts were needed on three consecutive plays.

"If it wasn't for the fans, maybe the outcome would have been different," WR Brandon Marshall said. "We thank the Jets fans for booing when our guys were down. We took it personal."

CB Dre Bly said he had strategic reasons for staying down. He had a bruised shin and needed to come out of the game but saw Jets QB Brett Favre hurrying his team. Bly said after playing against Favre so many times -- they were old rivals in the NFC North, Favre with Green Bay and Bly with Detroit -- that he knew Favre would go right at him because he was gimpy.

"If I had to I could have gotten up," Bly said. "Once I saw Brett was trying to hurry up and catch us off balance, I guess I pulled a vet move and stayed on the ground."

--The Broncos started their fourth free safety in five games when Vernon Fox got the nod. Fox made one big play, a 23-yard fumble return for a touchdown, and Broncos coach Mike Shanahan praised him afterward.

"It looks like he played pretty good," Shanahan said.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

--CB Champ Bailey could return this week. The Broncos haven't rushed him and it has paid off, as they have built a big lead in the AFC West. Bailey is close to being fully healthy.

--LB Wesley Woodyard led the Broncos with 10 tackles against the Jets. He has played very well, but the problem is the Broncos don't have any obvious spot for him in the defense when D.J. Williams returns. Williams and Woodyard both play weakside linebacker.

--LB Mario Haggan played a lot of the game against the Jets at middle linebacker, and he had a sack on a fourth-down scramble by Brett Favre. Haggan has been splitting time the past couple of games at middle linebacker with Spencer Larsen, who has a hip injury.

--RB Peyton Hillis was banged up after carrying the load against the Jets. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said Hillis was sore everywhere but should be fine for this week's game against Kansas City.

--DT Josh Shaw has a dislocated elbow and will miss some time. He had been a part of Denver's defensive tackle rotation and had been doing a solid job lately. He's likely to be replaced by Nic Clemons.



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