Big-play Broncos top Titans, 34-20
November 20, 2007
DENVER ” Eighty yards here, 62 there, another 48 somewhere else. Next thing they knew, the Denver Broncos found themselves in a spot they only could have dreamed of a few weeks ago ” tied for first place in the AFC West.
Jay Cutler threw touchdown passes of 41 and 48 yards and little-known Glenn Martinez and Andre Hall added to Denver’s slew of big scoring plays Monday night in a 34-20 victory over the Tennessee Titans.
Vince Young threw for a career high ” 308 yards ” for the second straight week, but this one also resulted in a loss for the Titans (6-4), who played catchup against Denver the same way they did in a 28-13 loss to Jacksonville last week.
Martinez, a second-year receiver signed off the practice squad in September, returned a punt 80 yards to give Denver a 14-0 lead in the first.
Hall, a first- year player with eight carries this year, turned his ninth into a 62-yard score to help the Broncos regain control of the game after they’d watched a 17-point lead slip to seven.
The Broncos improved to 55, good enough to tie San Diego for the league in the woeful West.
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But suddenly, the Broncos, who have 44-7 and 41-3 losses on their wildly disparate scorecard this year, are playing like real contenders. They piled up 359 yards against the Titans, who were missing Albert Haynesworth on the defensive line but nonetheless came in with the second- ranked defense in the league.
Not that the Broncos are perfect, or anywhere near New England level.
Martinez also muffed a punt that led to a Tennessee touchdown late in the third quarter to make the score 27-17.
That touchdown, a 4-yard run by Young, came after the second of two ill-advised timeouts Denver called.
Broncos linebacker Nate Webster called a timeout just before the snap on third-and-goal from the 1, a play in which Young was held out of the end zone as he reached for the pylon.
But the timeout gave Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher a chance to review the previous play, in which Young scored on a similar play but had been ruled out of bounds at the 1.
At the end of the first half, Mike Shanahan, trying to duplicate the move that helped him foil Sebastian Janikowski’s game-winning attempt against Oakland several weeks ago, called timeout a split second before Rob Bironas tried a 56-yarder before halftime.
Bironas’ kick sailed about 20 yards wide of the goalpost, but given another chance, he nailed it to trim Tennessee’ deficit to 20-10.
This one wasn’t so much about field goals as big plays for the Broncos, though.
A team that had only one touchdown of 20 yards or more all season on offense got its second early, when Cutler found Brandon Stokley in the middle of the field and Stokley outran the Titans defense for a 48-yard score.
On the first drive of the third quarter, Cutler found Brandon Marshall in single coverage on Calvin Lowrey, who went for the ball and missed, allowing Marshall to score from 41 yards for a 27-10 lead.
Cutler finished 16- for- 21 for 200 yards. Selvin Young finished with 54 yards before leaving with a twisted knee.
That could set the stage for Hall, who could start next week against Chicago if Young is hurt and the Broncos are without Travis Henry, who is awaiting the league’s decision on results of a positive drug test. Henry was inactive against Tennessee with a knee injury.
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