Just a few weeks ago the Denver Broncos seemed on the verge of a lost season. After Monday night’s 34-20 home win over the slumping Tennessee Titans, the Broncos not only find themselves back to .500, they also find themselves tied for first in the very average AFC West. Monday’s win was big in more than one way, as it got the Broncos back to the top of the division, and also came via a couple of big plays, as quarterback Jay Cutler lit up the NFL’s #2 defense for TD passes of 41 and 48 yards.
The Broncos special teams also got in on the act, as undrafted Glenn Martinez took back a punt 80 yards that put Denver ahead 14-0 in the first quarter. That TD came after Cutler had hit Brandon Stokley for a 48-yard score with 5:13 left in the opening quarter. The Titans in that first quarter were finally able to get a drive going on their third possession after a pair of punts. QB Vince Young took his team down the field and in 9 plays was able to cut the lead in half when he found Brandon Jones with a 21-yard score to make it 14-7 with 13:15 left in the first half.
Denver continued to play ball control, holding onto the football for drives of 6 plays and 10 plays and adding two Jason Elam field goals. The Titans were able to get a field goal of their own to end the first half with the Broncos ahead 20-10. Denver had 208 yards of offense in that first half, while the Titans put up 215 yards. The Broncos went up 17 when Cutler hit Brandon Marshall with a 41-yard score with 11:02 left in the third to make it 27-10. That’s when the Titans started to rally.
Young moved his team down the field and ran it in himself from four yards out to make it 27-17. Then Rob Bironas kicked a 37-yard field goal early in the fourth to make it a 27-20 game. With the Broncos fretting, they got yet another big play to put the game away. Running back Andre Hall, who was playing for an injured Selvin Young, took a handoff and raced past the Titans defense for a 62-yard score a few plays after the Bironas field goal to put Denver back up for good as 34-20.
Cutler finished the night effective, going 16-for-21 for 200 yards with his two scores. Hall ended with 7 carries for 89 yards, and Young rushed for 54 yards on 14 carries. The Titans did get a solid night finally from Young, who threw for 305 yards and a score, but also threw two picks. He also led the way on the ground with 74 yards on 11 carries including the one score.
Tennessee’s defense has not been nearly as effective the last two games, as they allowed a solid day moving the ball to the Jags last week in Tennessee, and last night were hit by the big plays all night by a Broncos team that played like they needed a win to keep the momentum going. “It all came down to missed tackles,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. “We had missed tackle on the long touchdown run, missed tackles on the long touchdown pass play. That’s the problem with missed tackles.”
The Broncos will look to go over .500 Sunday when they travel to Chicago to take on a struggling Bears team. The Titans will look to move to 7-4 as they travel to Cincinnati to take on the awful 3-7 Bengals at 1pm.