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Opening Statement

Posted Aug 21, 2011

New players shined as Denver beat Buffalo 24-10 in the Broncos' preseason home opener Saturday.

DENVER -- The Denver Broncos played their first game of 2011 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Saturday, and while the game was a welcome home moment for old Broncos, the new players introduced themselves without hesitation.

Running back Willis McGahee scored two touchdowns to lead the offense and linebacker Von Miller recorded a sack -- and almost a few more -- to spearhead a strong defensive effort as the Broncos overwhelmed the Buffalo Bills 24-10.

The Bills took the early lead with a 40-yard field goal by Rian Lindell on their opening drive, but after the teams traded punts, the Broncos offense found a groove as McGahee scored two unanswered touchdowns on back-to-back drives to give Denver a lead it wouldn't relinquish.

McGahee used a 20-yard screen pass to set up his first touchdown, which came on a 1-yard carry at the beginning of the second quarter. He finished off his day by catching a swing pass and running 13 yards for his second score on the next drive.

"We did a lot of good things out there," quarterback Kyle Orton said about the three drives he led to start the game. "We ran the ball well, had a nice screen pass down to the 1-yard line and Willis had a nice touchdown catch for us. All-in-all, I thought it was a good day."

McGahee finished with 6 yards on five carries and two receptions for 22 yards to complement his two touchdowns. Fellow running back Knowshon Moreno led the team with six carries for 28 yards and also caught two passes for 21 yards as the running backs helped Orton engineer a balanced offense. The quarterback himself finished 10-for-13 for 135 yards and the touchdown pass to McGahee, all of which contributed to a quarterback rating of 135.1.

Orton's biggest target was receiver Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd caught just under half of Orton's completions -- he had four catches for 55 yards -- and it seemed like the quarterback and receiver were communicating telepathically at times.

"We do a lot of stuff on the line now where I don't have to signal to him. I just have to go over and take a look at him, and he's got an idea of what I want to do," Orton said. "I've worked the longest with him and he's a special player. He's one of the best route-runners in the league and certainly everybody sees how he can go up and get the football and jump for the ball. He's a top-flight player."

With a running game stabilized by McGahee and Moreno and a passing game flourishing with Orton and Lloyd, the Broncos offense was difficult to stop.

"If you can do all three things -- if you can throw it, if you can run it and if you can be good in the screen-game, it's going to be really tough for defenses to say they're going to sit there and dial up a ton of blitzes and try to take away a specific part of your game, because you can just do too many things," Orton said.

While it was tough for the Bills to successfully blitz Orton and the first-team offense, the Broncos had little trouble. Miller blew by left tackle Demetrius Bell for his first NFL sack midway through the first quarter and defensive end Elvis Dumervil constantly got pressure on Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

"It was great," Miller said about his sack. "I knew on the play that (Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen) had called, we were going to have great coverage on that play and we did. It was crunch time. We needed a play and I was able to get back there."

Miller also made a key tackle midway through the second quarter, standing up Bills running back C.J. Spiller in the open field and had another sack wiped away due to an offsides penalty.

"That guy has a get-off," Dumervil said. "I don't know, we may have to look at it on film because maybe he did time that ball (on the nullified sack). I don't know, his get off is that good. He has a really quick step and that's going to be great for us. It's good to have Von out here."

Miller helped the first-team defense hold Buffalo to just 90 total yards of offense and three points in the first half. The unit also had an interception from linebacker D.J. Williams as the defense exhibited its attacking mindset.

The Bills scored their lone touchdown in the fourth quarter on the Broncos' third string defense, but the game was out of reach by then. Quarterback Brady Quinn led the second team on two scoring drives in the third quarter to give the Broncos a 24-3 lead.

Kicker Matt Prater hit a 49-yard field goal on the first drive of the second half and Quinn threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to receiver Britt Davis over the middle on the offense's last drive in the third quarter. Overall, Quinn finished 10-for-16 for 130 yards and a touchdown as the No. 2 quarterback after playing as the No. 3 quarterback in Denver's last game.

"I was excited," Quinn said. "I obviously knew I'd get a chance to go in a little earlier. I knew I probably wouldn't be as stiff going into the game. It felt good."

Quarterback Tim Tebow played in the fourth quarter and threw only two passes as the Broncos were trying to wind the game down with a two-touchdown lead. Tebow did have a 7-yard scramble on a third-and-6 from Denver's own 10-yard line with just over two minutes left to all but seal the win.

The Broncos return home next week to play the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday, Aug. 27. The Broncos played well to beat the Bills but know there is still improvement to be made.

"It's just about growth," safety Brian Dawkins said. "You always want to start at a plus and I think we started at a plus. We have some things we need to improve upon but like I said, the effort, the guys flying around having a good time playing this game - you see it, it's on the guys' faces. Hopefully we'll continue to move in the right direction."

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