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2010 Season Review: First Quarter

Posted Jan 10, 2011

DenverBroncos.com begins a four-part series looking back at the 2010 season. Two victories, including one against a future playoff team, highlighted the first quarter of the campaign.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- After the first four games of the 2010 regular season, the Broncos were right in the thick of things with a 2-2 record.

The stretch included a close loss in the season opener, a big win back home at INVESCO Field at Mile High, a game of missed opportunities in a loss to the Indianapolis Colts and a come-from-behind victory in Tennessee.

Jaguars 24, Broncos 17

GAME RECAP: In a game they never led, the Broncos got the ball back after the two-minute warning with a chance to tie the contest. But a Kyle Orton interception sealed a 24-17 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the season opener.

Brandon Lloyd notched his first 100-yard game of the season as the Broncos outgained the Seahawks through the air, 274-165, but every time Denver scored, the Jaguars had an answer.

The day was marked by blistering heat and the game was delayed 33 minutes by a lightning storm, though the Broncos downplayed the role of the weather in the loss.

The defense held Maurice Jones-Drew under 100 yards and out of the end zone, but David Garrard threw three touchdowns to spur on Jacksonville to victory.

TURNING POINT: Down seven points with less than a minute remaining in the game, Orton's deep pass intended for Eddie Royal was intercepted by Jaguars defensive back Daryl Smith, allowing Jacksonville to run out the clock for the victory.

KEY STATISTIC: The Jaguars averaged 34.3 yards per kickoff return, including returns of 46 and 53 yards by Tiquan Underwood. Jacksonville started five drives at their own 30-yard line or better, including two that began at the Jaguars 47-yard line after the long returns.

QUOTABLE: "At the end of the day, one team is going to make more plays than the other, and we ended up on the short end of the stick."
-Brian Dawkins

Broncos 31, Seahawks 14

GAME RECAP: The 10th home opener in INVESCO Field at Mile High history ended with the same result as the previous nine -- a Broncos victory.

Denver defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 31-14, to bring its record to 1-1.

Kyle Orton threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns en route to a passer rating of 117.2, Demaryius Thomas led all receivers with eight receptions for 97 yards and a score and the offense converted on 14 of 20 third-down attempts to help win the time-of-possession battle by nearly 15 minutes.

The Broncos jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead and never looked back.

TURNING POINT: Up 7-0, the Broncos stepped on the gas on third down at the Seattle 35-yard line. Kyle Orton took the snap and pitched the ball to Knowshon Moreno, who ran to his right before throwing the ball back to Orton behind the line of scrimmage. Orton then fired the ball deep to Eddie Royal, who was tackled at the 1-yard line. Correll Buckhalter scored three plays later, and the 14-0 lead proved too much for the Seahawks to overcome.

KEY STATISTIC: Thanks to three interceptions and a fumble recovery on special teams, the Broncos won the turnover battle, 4-0.

QUOTABLE: "That's the best way to play -- let the other team make a mistake, we capitalize on it, and before you know it, it's 14 to nothing."
-Kyle Orton

Colts 27, Broncos 13

GAME RECAP: Though the Broncos put up 519 yards of offense -- 154 more than the Indianapolis Colts -- the team wasn't able to capitalize on its scoring opportunities in a 27-13 loss.

Kyle Orton threw for a career-high 476 yards and a score -- and both Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney toped the 100-yard receiving mark -- but three Peyton Manning touchdowns and two Adam Vinatieri field goals helped the Colts keep the lead for the entire contest.

The defense held Indianapolis to just 40 yards on the ground, though the Broncos rushed for just 47 in what turned into a one-dimensional game.

TURNING POINT: Down a touchdown with 8:46 remaining in the game, the Broncos went for it on fourth-and-3 from the Colts 12-yard line. The Indianapolis defense stood firm, and Peyton Manning proceeded to lead the Colts on a nine-play, 88-yard touchdown drive that effectively sealed the game.

KEY STATISTIC: Five Denver trips inside the Colts red zone yielded a pair of field goals and three turnovers on downs. Since red zone efficiency is measured by the amount of touchdowns scored, the Broncos had a zero percent efficiency rating.

QUOTABLE: "If you don't come away with touchdowns, it's hard to beat a good team like the Colts. We fell short today. The Colts are a good team, and you have to execute on all your P's and Q's to beat those guys."
-Correll Buckhalter

Broncos 26, Titans 20

GAME RECAP: After falling behind the Tennessee Titans by a score of 20-16, the Broncos mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter, fueled by the defense allowing just 18 total yards in the period.

Denver outscored Tennessee 10-0 in the fourth en route to a 26-20 win, its second of the season.

Kyle Orton's 341 passing yards gave him 1,419 through the first four games of the season -- the second-most in NFL history -- but it was a pass that wasn't completed that might have been the biggest of the afternoon.

On second-and-25 late in the game, down four, Orton launched a pass toward Jabar Gaffney in the end zone. Tennessee safety Chris Hope brought the receiver down before he could make the catch, resulting in a pass interference penalty that put the ball at the 1-yard line. Three plays later, Orton found Correll Buckhalter for a 6-yard score that gave the Broncos a lead they never relinquished.

TURNING POINT: After Buckhalter caught the go-ahead touchdown, the ensuing Matt Prater kickoff into the wind hung high. As Tennessee returner Mark Mariani waited, the ball bounced off the turf and Cassius Vaughn sprinted downfield to recover the football. The play gave Prater an opportunity to tack on his fourth field goal of the day to put the Broncos up six -- which proved to be the margin of victory.

KEY STATISTIC: The 2009 NFL rushing king, Chris Johnson, was held to just 53 yards on 19 carries.

QUOTABLE: "You knew Chris Johnson was the key. We knew if we could slow him down good things would happen to us. We knew that was the goal and we feel like we accomplished it -- and most importantly we got the W."
-Robert Ayers