Kyle Orton finally took off the glove Sunday, and the results were pretty surprising.
Orton, who had played with a glove on the right hand he injured in the preseason, threw for 330 yards on 35 of 48 passing against New England. Now he leads the surprising 5-0 Broncos against San Diego this Monday with the chance to take a three-and-a-half game lead in the AFC West.
He said he was happy to have the glove off against the Patriots, and it showed. He was sharp and accurate most of the day, and outplayed Tom Brady in a huge Broncos win.
Orton was modest about that accomplishment afterward.
"I certainly don't put myself in his class; he's probably the best quarterback to ever play this game," Orton said. "I didn't beat him. Our team beat the New England Patriots."
Orton's big day wasn't just about the glove. He said he is getting more comfortable with Josh McDaniels' offense. McDaniels runs a complicated scheme, and Orton didn't look comfortable in training camp or early in the preseason. Orton struggled a bit in the first regular-season game as well, one the Broncos pulled out with a long touchdown on a fortunate bounce at the end.
But Orton didn't make any mistakes as he learned. His only interception this season came Sunday on a Hail Mary at the end of the first half, which was picked off by Patriots receiver Randy Moss. He was more of a game manager than dynamic playmaker through the first four weeks, but made some huge plays against New England.
Orton said he saw the field and was more comfortable executing the game plan than he had been in any other game. He led Denver on two 90-yard scoring drives, including a 98-yard game-tying drive in the fourth quarter. Orton then directed a game-winning drive in overtime, and his mastery of the offense impressed his coach.
"I don't know if he missed a read all day," McDaniels said.
What To Watch:
: The Broncos didn't use a committee with RB Correll Buckhalter out with an ankle injury against New England. Knowshon Moreno handled most of the workload and played well other than a first-quarter fumble. He had 88 yards on 21 carries and caught four balls for 36 yards. Moreno likely will continue as the workhorse as long as Buckhalter is out. But Buckhalter was the starter and played well before his injury, so he will probably share time when he returns. Buckhalter's return is still up in the air. The Broncos have a bye after playing the Chargers in Week 6, so Denver could choose to hold Buckhalter out and give him an extra week to get back to 100 percent.
The Broncos have allowed opponents to convert only 2 of 31 third downs in the second half this season. Denver hasn't allowed a third-down conversion in the second half in three straight weeks. The Broncos have played very well in the second halves of games this year. Part of that is their conditioning, which they do every day at the end of practice. Another has been halftime adjustments, which the coaching staff is very adept at. Denver has outscored opponents 59-7 after halftime this season.
-- WR Jabar Gaffney had six catches for 61 yards against New England, even though Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal combined for 18 catches. Gaffney is heavily involved in the offense and should continue to get some stats each week.
-- RB LaMont Jordan had only three carries for 9 yards against New England. He'll continue to give Knowshon Moreno breathers as long as Correll Buckhalter is out.
-- CB Jack Williams split time with Alphonso Smith, who was coming back from an ankle injury, at nickel cornerback and had another good game. Williams had seven tackles and broke up two passes.
-- DE Vonnie Holliday had a huge fourth-quarter sack against New England and forced a fumble that was recovered by Denver. Holliday signed after the preseason but has been a surprise in the Broncos' defensive line rotation.
-- LB D.J. Williams led the Broncos with nine tackles. Williams is on pace to go well over 100 tackles this season, playing the weak-side inside linebacker position in Denver's 3-4 defense.
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