Sunday, September 9, 2007
Broncos Stun Bills at Last Second, 15-14
Jay Cutler's option pitchout to Travis Henry gave the Broncos an early 33-yard gain and brought their offense to life.
By Andrew Mason
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- It was a finish worthy of the histrionics of notoriously hyper play-by-play man Gus Johnson.
With the clock bleeding dry in the final seconds, the Broncos managed to complete a pass, exchange the offense for the field-goal unit and set Jason Elam for a 42-yard field goal that sliced through the uprights and the hearts of a stunned Ralph Wilson Stadium crowd, giving the Broncos a heartstopping 15-14 win on a soggy Sunday in western New York.
Until the stunning last few minutes -- which saw the Broncos execute a pair of fourth downs to resuscitate their desperate, last-gasp march -- the game played like a fight in a Rocky movie, with the teams exchanging haymakers throughout the afternoon.
Many of those shots came from running back Travis Henry, who shone in his return to Buffalp, becoming just the third Bronco to run for more than 100 yards in his Denver debut and the first since Gaston Green in 1991. Joe Dudek also went over 100 yards rushing in his first Denver game 20 years ago.
Henry finished with 139 rushing yards and 44 more on three receptions.
Throughout the first half, the Broncos dominated proceedings. Denver's defense held the Bills off the scoreboard, and the Broncos amassed a 202-92 total-yardage advantage by halftime, including a 130-38 edge in passing. But special teams allowed the Bills to take a 7-6 lead into the dressing room, as the half's only touchdown came when Roscoe Parrish sprinted untouched for a 76-yard punt-return touchdown 8:43 into the game.
Denver responded with a 10-play, 66-yard march that petered out when the Broncos advanced into a goal-to-go situation, forcing them to settle for a 21-yard Elam field goal that made the score 7-3 at the end of the first quarter. Elam hit a 48-yard field goal 7:09 into the second quarter to cap a nine-play, 37-yard drive; that put the Broncos within 7-6, where the score remained at halftime.
The Bills received the opening kickoff and moved into field-goal range on their first possession before D.J. Williams blitzed on second-and-10 from the Denver 30, chasing J.P. Losman backwards into a 14-yard loss, knocking the Bills out of scoring position. Brian Moorman subsequently launched an orbiting punt that was downed at the Denver 1, but the Broncos moved out of the goal post's shadow two plays later when the Broncos dusted off the option, with Cutler pitching to Henry for a 33-yard gain. The Broncos went backwards on their next three plays, losing three yards before Sauerbrun made the fateful punt that gave the Bills a lead they would sustain.
... Denver's inactive players were running back Andre Hall, cornerback Karl Paymah, guard Ben Hamilton, offensive tackle Ryan Harris, tight end Stephen Alexander, wide receiver Brian Clark, defensive tackle Antwon Burton and defensive end Tim Crowder ...
... Jeff Shoate saw his first regular-season action since his 2004 rookie season, filling in as a sixth defensive back in place of the injured Paymah ...
... Brandon Marshall made the second start of his professional career ...
... Daniel Graham frequently lined up in the backfield when the Broncos utilized the shotgun formation, standing alongside Cutler ...
... John Lynch's second-quarter sack of Losman was his first since the 2005 campaign, when he tied for the team lead with four sacks ...
... Elvis Dumervil's interception at the end of the first half was the first of his professional career ...
... Denver had more sacks by halftime (two) than it did in seven of its 16 full games last year.
Jay Cutler (304 passing yards, 18 rushing yards, 1 TD)
Travis Henry (139 rushing yards, 44 receiving yards)
Javon Walker (9 catches, 119 receiving yards)
D.J. Williams (9 tackles, 1 sack)
Jason Elam (3 field goals, including 42-yarder to win game)
4+ min. Game video...