Denver Broncos over Cleveland Browns, 34-30
I can’t remember a year where I have seen so many close games with wild plays that determine the final outcome. For three quarters the Cleveland Browns dominated the Denver Broncos and took a 23-13 lead into the fourth quarter. There was nothing to indicate that Denver could get back in the game, but I told my wife “it’s not over by a long shot, it’s only a 10 point lead.” The very next play was a 93-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler to Eddie Royal that cut the lead to 23-20. This was immediately followed by a Kellen Winslow, Jr. fumble on Cleveland’s next possession that Denver turned into another touchdown to take the lead 27-23. Those were the two pivotal plays of the game as both teams traded touchdowns late in the game.
Cleveland has now blown two fourth quarter leads in consecutive games, dropping to a 3-6 record that all but ensures they will miss the playoffs this year. The promise of a breakout year after last year’s surprisingly strong showing is gone, as the Browns now look to salvage their season and pin their hopes on the arm and leadership of Brady Quinn next year.
The storyline going into this game was obviously the first start of Brady Quinn’s career. Quinn acquitted himself very well and showed great promise. He stayed poised throughout the game, threw the ball well for the most part, and played smart. Most impressively, Quinn stayed cool once Denver took the lead late in the game and calmly drove the Browns for a go ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter on a one yard run by Jamal Lewis. It was for naught as Denver and Jay Cutler answered with a winning touchdown drive of their own. But even on the final desperation drive, Quinn played well and his fourth down pass to Winslow was right on the money, Winslow just didn’t make the catch.
Granted Denver has a very weak defense, the Browns established a very productive running game, Quinn had excellent protection in the pocket, and the passing game was mostly a short, controlled variety with no long throws. He also threw some odd low balls that Kellen Winslow dug off the turf bailing Quinn out. Nonetheless, for a first start in the NFL, not bad. Only time will tell what Brady Quinn will ultimately do in this league, but he showed enough last night to think he has a bright future.
And what’s up with Brandon Marshall dropping ball, after ball, after ball? What happened to him all of a sudden?
And Kellen Winslow had a great game except he had a silly offensive pass interference penalty that stymied a late drive, fumbled the ball that led to a Denver go ahead score (although it was a great strip by the defense), and he should have caught that last pass of the game for a first down. But he seemed to play with a lot of heart and made some nice catches.
Jay Cutler, with NO running game, and hurt tight end, and a receiver dropping balls all over the field still pulled out the win. It was a very impressive outing by Cutler. What Denver will do with no running backs the rest of the season is a mystery, but this will keep their playoff hopes alive.
MVP: Jay Cutler, QB, Denver Broncos
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