Before the Denver Bronco’s week 10 game against the Cleveland Browns kicked off, analysts from Mike Ditka to Chris Mortensen were picking the 3-5 Browns to overcome the 4-4 Broncos. In the third quarter, it looked like the Broncos were proving them right, only to have a massive rally in the fourth quarter to take the game 34-30 in the final minutes. Toppling the Browns came as the first win for the Broncos since their 26-13 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during week five. Just one week before, they found themselves with a 26-17 loss to the surprising Miami Dolphins. The win did come at a cost, however, as running back Ryan Torain and Selvin Young both suffered injuries during the second quarter of the match.
The game was supposed to be a big one for the Browns’ quarterback Brady Quinn, who had just won the starting position from Derek Anderson on the Monday prior the Thursday game. Ironically, it was Broncos’ quarterback Jay Cutler who ended up being the star of the show. Cutler was 24 of 42 on the night for 447 yards, three touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 107.9. Cutler’s performance is even more impressive considering his stats for the past few games. During the team’s 41-7 loss to the New England Patriots during week seven, he was 17 of 26 for one touchdown, two interceptions and a rating of 64.3. Week nine against the Dolphins was worse as he was 24 of 46 with two touchdowns, three interceptions and a rating of 60.7. For his starting debut, Quinn didn’t fare too poorly either. He was 23 of 25 for 239 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 104.3.
It was Cutler’s extra yardage that made the biggest difference, consider that the Browns out-ran the Broncos. The game started out with a touchdown by the Broncos off of a one-yard run by Ryan Torain. Quinn answered back later in the first quarter with a five yard touchdown pass to Kellen Winslow. After Phil Dawson added a field goal for the Browns, Winslow and Quinn connected for another touchdown. Matt Prater nailed a field goal for the Broncos before Dawson had another for the Browns to round out the first half. Dawson also started out the scoring in the second half with another field goal, putting the Browns up 23-10. Prater added another before the last half kicked off. Cutler came out with a fury in the fourth quarter, starting with a 93-yard touchdown pass to Eddie Royal, the Broncos longest since 1981. He connected with Daniel Graham soon after to give his team a 27-23 lead. The Browns weren’t giving up easily, however, and took back the lead with a one-yard touchdown run by Jamal Lewis. Brandon Marshall took an 11-yard pass from Cutler to score the final touchdown and give the Broncos a much-needed win.
On the downside, the injuries to Torain, a rookie, and Young were not the only problems for the Broncos at that position. Both first string running back Michael Pittman and second string Andre Hall are already out for the season. This meant that rookie Peyton Hillis is the only running back. If either gets placed on IR, it could mean that Cutler needs to have more games like the one against the Browns.