Orton’s powerful performance turned Tennessee’s defense upside down.
Don’t look now, but Kyle Orton is steadily becoming a bonafide NFL starting QB.
Whether Orton went to former Bear teammate Brandon Lloyd (11-115) or the electrifying elusive Royal (8-113-TD), the former Chicago cast-off who was traded for Jay Cutler showed once again why Josh McDaniels has a method behind his madness, as he rallied Denver to a stunning comeback victory over Tennessee 26-20. Orton looked precisely crisp against a tough Titans defense, connecting with Royal and Lloyd with relative ease in what could be described as a maestro-like performance. He went 35-50, amassing 341 yards through the air in route to Denver’s second win; as well as picking up a “bravo” at the end for almost doubling the averaged yards given up by the Titans pass defense. Conducting four scoring drives of 49 or more yards, the former Boilermaker sensation was just masterful, it was almost like watching an “encore presentation” as he coolly but calmly orchestrated the Broncos in an impressively led triumph over one of the top teams in the AFC.
Down 20-17 in the 4th quarter, after turning the ball over on downs inside the red zone, Orton went back to work with less than two minutes remaining after getting sacked for the 6th time of the afternoon. Following the take down from David Ball, his 11th time getting hit, he dropped back on 2nd and 25 from midfield to locate Jabar Gaffney deep. The ball traveled all the way to the end zone, yet fell incomplete. However, it turned out to be his best throw of the day. Despite the incompletion, Orton caught a break, as safety Chris Hope interfered with Gaffney, allowing the team to take over 1st and goal at the Tennessee 1. He was so good, an incompletion eventually won his team the game. Savvy vet. “Jabar had been asking for the ball the whole game,” Orton said. “(I) just didn’t have time to get him the ball in some of those situations, went back to him, and he made a great play.”
Two plays later, after an illegal formation call which sent them back to the 6 and another incomplete pass to Gaffney, Orton completed his 35th pass of the day, a six-yard strike in the right corner of the end zone to little-used back-up RB Correll Buckhalter with 1:33 left for the go-ahead score, his second of the afternoon. Denver tacked on three more insurance points complimentary of a Matt Prater 36-yard boot through the uprights, after recovering a well-played muffed kickoff at the Tennessee 17.
As impressive as Denver’s offense was scoring on six of their seven trips inside the 20, their defense was just as equally as impressive, holding Chris Johnson to only 53 yards on the ground. They prevented Johnson from rushing for a double-digit gain for the first time since the 5th week of last season against Indianapolis, a span of 15 games. In the 4th quarter, they gave up just one 1st down. Despite only running the rock 20 times for 19 yards, they were well in control of the game, holding on to the ball for more than 10 minutes longer than Tennessee.
In what was an important game for both squads, seeing their opponents for next week (Tennessee at Dallas, Denver at Baltimore). You could not ask for a more well-fought, back and forth, wildly entertaining game. One team kept fighting back, thus showing its resiliency in the end, the other club never found a rhythm, thus losing a heartbreaker at home, a game in which they should have won. Looking like a game where Denver would find a way to lose despite outplaying Tennessee, winning the box score battle, it rallied back in come from behind fashion, sending Titans fans home upset for the second time on the year, one more than last season at LP Field with Vince Young as starter.
Both teams are 2-2, yet at the end of the day you could tell which team wanted it more, it was not a question, unlike Kyle Orton coming into the season, who came in a question mark. Oh, I think coach McDaniels has an answer for that question mark. “But he never lost his poise, continued to be confident on the sidelines, and made a lot of critical throws for us to change field position. He executed when we needed him to execute. I’m very pleased with the way he’s leading our football team and the way he’s playing,” McDaniels said. Now you can’t question his QB, now could the same be said for his team? Only time will tell, possibly as soon as next week in Baltimore.