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
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,"
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
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
Denver led 17-10 after a 17-yard touchdown strike from Orton to
Orton kept the next drive alive by converting a third down with a 13-yard run up the middle of the field, and
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.
Counting the interceptions and a fumble forced by
"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,"