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2011 Season Review: First Quarter

Posted Jan 23, 2012

In the first installment of DenverBroncos.com's five-part series looking back at the 2011 season, the Broncos pick up their first win under Head Coach John Fox but suffer some hard-fought losses.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Broncos dropped their season-opening Monday Night Football showdown with the rival Raiders but bounced back with a narrow win against the Bengals in Week 2.

Denver then hit the road for the first time, losing a tight game to the Tennessee Titans before falling to the defending-champion Packers a week later in Green Bay.

WEEK 1

Raiders 23, Broncos 20

GAME RECAP:  Down by three early in the fourth quarter of the season opener, the Broncos looked poised to tie or even take the lead from the Oakland Raiders after trailing the majority of the game.

But on first-and-10 at the Oakland 24-yard line, with rain coming down, the ball slipped out of Kyle Orton's hands and the Raiders recovered the fumble. Three plays later, Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell was in the end zone to push Oakland's lead back to 10 in an eventual 23-20 win at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

Orton bounced back to find running back Lance Ball for a 9-yard touchdown, pulling the Broncos back to within a field goal with just under four minutes to go. But the Raiders picked up three first downs to close out the victory on Monday Night Football.

TURNING POINT: The Broncos had seized the momentum in the fourth quarter and were in a position to score until the Raiders' recovered Orton's fumble - which led to Oakland's game-winning touchdown drive.

KEY STATISTIC: Oakland running back Darren McFadden ran for 150 yards on 22 carries as the Raiders controlled the game on the ground.

QUOTABLE: "We still have optimism. This was a game against a team that swept our division a year ago. It's a team that whacked us twice a year ago. There's no consolation for 'close,' but I think we're still optimistic. We are just at 0-1 like half the teams in our football league."
- Head Coach John Fox

WEEK 2

Broncos 24, Bengals 22

GAME RECAP: With the game on the line, the Denver Broncos didn't back down.

The Broncos defense came out twice in the last five minutes of the game with the task to protect a two-point lead by keeping the Cincinnati Bengals out of field goal range. Both times the Bengals entered Broncos territory. And both times, Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen kept the Broncos attacking the Bengals instead of cautiously sitting back.

That proved to be the difference in the Broncos 24-22 win.

TURNING POINT: The Bengals were driving in search of the game-winning field goal attempt and reached Denver territory with just under a minute left. But Jonathan Wilhite pushed Cincinnati back with a 9-yard sack of Andy Dalton, forcing a fourth-and-19 that the Bengals were unable to convert.

KEY STATISTIC: Denver won with eight starters unavailable due to injury.

QUOTABLE: "We showed resilience. To pull this victory off and really stick together just tells a lot about this team and the coaching staff."
- WR Eric Decker

WEEK 3

Titans 17, Broncos 14

GAME RECAP: With a 14-10 lead and the ball spotted at the 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Denver running back Willis McGahee took a fourth-and-goal handoff attempting to put Sunday's game in Tennessee out of reach.

Instead, it was the goal line that proved to be out of reach as the Titans defense turned McGahee away and turned the momentum en route to a 17-14 victory.

Following a punt from each team, Tennessee quarterback Matt Hasselbeck lofted a 58-yard pass to tight end Craig Stevens deep down the middle as LP Field erupted. Three plays later, he found tight end Daniel Graham in the end zone to put the Titans in front.

Still, the Broncos had time to construct a game-winning or game-tying drive, but the comeback came to an end when Jason Jones deflected Orton's third-down pass into the hands of linebacker Will Witherspoon, sealing the win for Tennessee.

TURNING POINT: Down by four and backed up on their own 17-yard line late in the fourth quarter, the Titans' dramatically switched the field position with a 58-yard gain through the air to tight end Craig Stevens. Moments later the Titans took the lead for good.

KEY STATISTIC: In this evenly played game both teams were nearly identical in each statistical category - except when it came to big plays in the passing game. The Titans just about doubled up the Broncos registering 8.2 yards per completion compared to Denver's 4.4.

QUOTABLE: "You fight your rear ends off in a game and our guys did. This is a tough place to play - always has been and always will be. We knew what kind of game it was going to be, so you like to get the rewards of that and we came up short."
- Head Coach John Fox

WEEK 4

Packers 49, Broncos 23

GAME RECAP: For a half, the Broncos hung with the undefeated, defending Super Bowl champions.

But by the end of Sunday's game, Aaron Rodgers' MVP-like performance was too much to overcome, and the Green Bay Packers handed the Broncos a 49-23 loss at Lambeau Field.

Rodgers didn't play in the final series of the game, giving way to his backup, Matt Flynn, after leading his team to a 49-17 advantage.

The Super Bowl XLV MVP passed for 408 yards, four touchdowns -- not to mention his two rushing touchdowns -- and an interception, good for a quarterback rating of 134.5.

TURNING POINT: Two Eric Decker touchdowns in the second quarter cut the Packers' lead to four, but Rodgers found Greg Jennings for a 17-yard touchdown in the closing moments of the half. From there Green Bay never looked back, scoring 28 unanswered points.

KEY STATISTIC: The Denver defense had trouble getting off the field against the Packers, who converted 9-of-13 third downs.

QUOTABLE: "You just can't give these guys anything, they're too good of a football team. We gave them too much and they put us away."
- QB Kyle Orton

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