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'Tooth and Nail'

Posted Oct 17, 2010

The Broncos suffered a hard-fought defeat to the Jets at INVESCO Field at Mile High on Sunday.

DENVER -- The Broncos traded punches with the Jets throughout Sunday afternoon, but they fell on the wrong end of the knockout blow in a 24-20 loss to New York at INVESCO Field at Mile High.

Denver led by a field goal at the two-minute warning and forced New York into a fourth-and-6 from its own 48-yard line when the Jets dropped a bomb. Mark Sanchez couldn't find a receiver from the pocket, so he scrambled to his left and heaved a desperation pass to Santonio Holmes, who found himself entangled with Renaldo Hill.

The officials called pass interference on the Broncos, and the Jets found new life after the 46-yard penalty placed them 2 yards away from the go-ahead touchdown.

"They made one more play than we did," Mario Haggan said. "That's how it happened. We just have to understand the situation in the game and come out and make those plays. You have to give it to them, they put themselves in position to make that play."

LaDainian Tomlinson drove up the middle of the line and broke into the end zone on the first play after the penalty. His second rushing touchdown of the day proved the winning points for New York.

Nick Folk's kickoff sailed for a touchback and left Denver's offense with 1:33 for their own rally, but any hope of a comeback ended when the Jets recovered a shotgun snap that flew wild away from Kyle Orton.

The sentiment echoing through Denver's locker room after the game was that the team matched the Jets play for play until it mattered most.

"They played hard today and fought us tooth and nail all the way until the end," Head Coach Josh McDaniels said. "They made one more play than we did today. I'm proud of our team."

The Jets drew first blood when they capped off a six-minute-plus drive with a 32-yard touchdown catch by Braylon Edwards on the first play of the second quarter. But Denver fought back on the ensuing drive, which featured two 16-yard receptions by Jabar Gaffney and Tim Tebow's first NFL touchdown, a 5-yard sprint to outside.

Denver led 17-10 after a 17-yard touchdown strike from Orton to Demaryius Thomas in the third quarter, but the Jets matched that score with a 20-yard rushing touchdown by Tomlinson in the fourth.

Orton kept the next drive alive by converting a third down with a 13-yard run up the middle of the field, and Matt Prater converted a 48-yard field goal to put the score at 20-17 before the Jets took possession and drew the killer penalty.

With an unorthodox game plan that showcased the defense in 4-3 looks and unveiled a pistol package featuring Tebow at quarterback and Orton split out wide, the Broncos were able to neutralize some of New York's strengths.

Denver's offensive line only allowed one sack to a team that averaged more than two a game this season.

"We had a lot of different ways to try and attack them and attack their aggressiveness," Orton said.

Denver's defense held the league's No. 1 rushing offense more than 30 yards below their average total on the ground. Before the game, the Jets' Sanchez hadn't thrown a pick, but two Denver defenders grabbed the first interceptions of their careers against the second-year signal caller.

Syd'Quan Thompson stepped in front of a Sanchez pass late in the second quarter, giving the offense possession with 39 seconds left in the half. Orton's 24-yard pass to Eddie Royal set Matt Prater up for a 59-yard field goal that gave his team a 10-7 lead heading into the locker room.

Jason Hunter picked off Sanchez in the first quarter to put the offense in field goal position, but a fumbled snap by Britton Colquitt ended the play before Prater could attempt a kick.

Counting the interceptions and a fumble forced by Perrish Cox at the end of the third quarter, the Broncos forced three turnovers and recovered an onside kick after their first score, but they only converted Thompson's pick into points.

"Turnovers were a main emphasis going into the game," Orton said. "We didn't take advantage of it. We were able to put a couple of good drives together and put some points on the board, but not enough."

The Broncos couldn't finish the game, but they did enough to have Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan thinking he might see them again.

"That football team is a good team," Ryan said. "I wouldn't be surprised if we see what happens in this playoff race, but don't be surprised if that team is in it."

The players in the locker room acknowledged their frustration with their first losing streak of the season, but also said they can't hang their heads after a loss like this. With division opponent Oakland coming to town next week, the team will carry the same intensity into AFC West competition.

"I thought we played our hearts out today," Justin Bannan said. "We came up short, but I'm optimistic. I think we're going to go back to work, and go back to doing what we do, but we just have to come out on top next time."