KICKOFF: The Broncos will receive to start the second half. Demaryius Thomas is back deep to field Rob Bironas’ kickoff. He catches it at about the 8-yard line and fights his way to the 31-yard line.
Q3 14:55: Kyle Orton and the offense are back on the field, and on first down the quarterback dumps a pass off to Daniel Graham for a loss of a yard. On second-and-11, Orton finds Jabar Gaffney for a gain of 5. On third down, Orton finds Lloyd at the first-down marker, and the receiver hauls it in to move the chains.
Q3 12:55: Laurence Maroney is tackled for a loss of 3 on a first-down carry. Orton lines up in the shotgun and quickly finds Royal on second down, and the receiver follows his blocks, sprinting up the sideline for a gain of 41 yards to the Tennessee 20. On first-and-10, Orton pitches to Maroney, who is drilled in the backfield for a loss of 4. Orton fires a pass to Royal in the middle of the field to bring up third-and-8 at the 18-yard line. Orton drops back into the shotgun, takes the snap and fires an incomplete pass intended for Thomas in the end zone. There’s a flag on the play, however, for holding. The penalty is declined, so Prater jogs out to attempt a 36-yard field goal. His kick is up and in, giving the Broncos the lead once again.
BRONCOS 13, TITANS 10
Q3 10:30: Prater’s kick is fielded at the 2-yard line, and the returner, Mariani, is gone for a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Bironas’ extra point is up and in, and the Titans take the lead for the first time in the game.
TITANS 17, BRONCOS 13
Q3 10:19: Thomas is back to receive the kickoff, and he answers Mariani’s return by racing up the field all the way to the Tennessee 23-yard line — a 65-yard return. On first down, Orton finds Brandon Lloyd for a 5-yard gain. The two can’t connect on second down, bringing up third-and-5. Orton drops back in the shotgun, avoids one sack and runs into another Titan to bring up fourth-and-9. Prater is in to attempt a 40-yard field goal. It’s up and in, but there’s a flag on the play — offsides on the Titans. Since it was a dead-ball foul, Prater’s earlier kick didn’t count, so the kicker will line up again for a 35-yard attempt. But the refs blow the play dead before it starts — apparently for no reason. Finally, Prater lines up for his kick, and he coolly knocks it home to bring the Broncos to within one point of the Titans.
TITANS 17, BRONCOS 16
Q3 8:12: Mariani finds space out to the 33-yard line on Prater’s kickoff, which was fielded at the 3. On first down, Young rolls to his left and completes a pass for a 7-yard gain. Second down brings another pass from Young, this one lofted just over the outstretched arms of D.J. Williams in coverage to tight end Craig Stevens for a 16-yard gain. At the Denver 44-yard line, Young hands off to Chris Johnson, who is brought down after a gain of 4. Second down brings a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage and nearly intercepted by the Broncos — but a personal foul penalty is called on Mario Haggan for hands to the face, giving Tennessee a first down at the 25-yard line.
Q3 5:53: On first down, Johnson nearly escapes the defense and finds the sideline, but he’s pushed out of bounds by D.J. Williams after a gain of 2. Pressure by Dawkins on a play fake results in an incomplete pass on second down, bringing up third-and-8. Young lines up in the shotgun and rolls to his right before being sacked by Dawkins, bringing out Bironas for a field goal attempt — a 46-yarder. The veteran kicker narrowly makes it, increasing the Tennessee lead.
TITANS 20, BRONCOS 16
Q3 5:00: Thomas is taken down at the 22-yard line on the kickoff return. On first down, Orton lines up in the shotgun before handing off to Correll Buckhalter. There’s a flag on the play — offsides on the defense, pushing the ball forward 5 yards. On first-and-5, Orton hands off to Buckhalter again, and the running back picks up another first down. The ensuing play brings shifts on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, and results in an incompletion. On second-and-10, Orton quickly finds Jabar Gaffney for a 9-yard gain. On third-and-1, Orton is in the shotgun. He finds Lloyd, who dives forward for extra yards to the Denver 49-yard line.
Q3 2:23: After a run for no gain by Maroney, flags are thrown before a play can be run on second-and-10. It’s a neutral-zone infraction on the Titans, making it second-and-5 in Titans territory. It’s an incomplete pass. On third-and-5, Orton is sacked and the offense is called for holding — a penalty the Titans decline. On fourth down, Colquitt tries to get a punt away but the play is blown dead because “the umpire was out of position.” When he does get his punt off, Mariani called for a fair catch at the 9-yard line.
Q3 1:02: Two runs by Johnson net 5 yards — Robert Ayers made a big tackle on the second run — bring up third-and-5 on the 14-yard line as the third quarter comes to a close.
Q4 15:00: Young throws a pass to Johnson in space, but a gang of Broncos “have a party at the ball,” as Dawkins put it earlier this week, and take down the elusive running back after a gain of just a yard. Eddie Royal is back deep to receive Brett Kern’s punt, and he makes the first tackler miss, picking up 5 yards to the 30-yard line.
Q4 14:04: An offsides call on the Titans makes it first-and-5 for the Broncos. Orton hands off to Maroney for a gain of 2, and on second down, Orton gets the ball to Lloyd for the first down. The next play is another hand off to Maroney, who weaves his way through defenders for a pickup of 5 yards. Orton yet again finds Lloyd for a first down on the next play. The ensuing first down is a run by Buckhalter for a loss of 5.
Q4 9:49: Orton finds Gaffney for a quick gain of 4 on second down, but on third down he tries to find Lloyd and the pass is tipped and intercepted by Michael Griffin. Tennessee takes over at its own 35-yard line.
Q4 9:20: Marcus Thomas bullies his way into the backfield to take down Javon Ringer for a loss of 4 on first down. On second down, Young connects with Nate Washington for a 10-yard gain before the receiver is taken down by Perrish Cox. On third-and-4, Young tries to find Jared Cook, but Dawkins was there in coverage and it’s fourth down. Royal is back deep to field the punt, and he takes it to the Denver 30, where the offense will take over.
Q4 8:15: Orton lines up in the shotgun and finds Thomas for the rookie’s first catch of a day — a 9-yard gain. A Titan is down after the play.
Q4 7:39: On first down, Orton hits Gaffney for a 28-yard gain down the right sideline. Another Titan is down after the play. The Broncos have a first-and-10 at the 33-yard line as the Tennessee player walks to the sideline under his own power.
Q4 7:17: Orton lofts a pass to Buckhalter on a screen, and the running back follows his blockers for a first down at the 21-yard line. Orton is back in the shotgun on the ensuing play. He drops back and quickly fires to Daniel Graham for a 5-yard gain. On second-and-5, Orton drops back and gets the ball to Buckhalter, who is close to the first-down marker, bringing up third-and-1 at the 12-yard line. The crowd is on its feet as Orton hands off to Buckhalter — and the back is stopped short of the marker. On fourth-and-1, the offense is still on the field. Three receivers are to the right and Buckhalter is in the backfield. Orton keeps the ball on a sneak, and the crowd reacts like he didn’t get the first down. It’s close. The refs stop the clock for a measurement — and Orton got the first down. It’s now first-and-10 at the 11-yard line.
Q4 4:56: Tennessee has elected to challenge the ruling on the field of a first down. After review, the ruling on the field stands, and Tennessee is charged a timeout.
Q4 4:50: On first down, Orton lofts a pass to Lloyd, who dives for it but lands out of bounds. Second down brings a quick dump off to Buckhalter, who picks up 7 yards to the Tennessee 4-yard line. On third-and-3, Orton tries to find Lloyd in the back of the end zone, but it falls incomplete. It’s now fourth-and-3 at the 4-yard line, and the offense is on the field. Denver calls a timeout — its first of the half.
Q4 4:39: Orton fires to Gaffney at the back of the end zone, but the receiver can’t haul it in close to the ground. Tennessee takes over at its own 4-yard line.
Q4 4:33: Johnson takes a carry on first down, and he manages to pick up 3 yards. On second down, Young pitches to Johnson on a misdirection play, and the back makes it to the first-down marker before being pushed out of bounds. First-and-10 Titans at the 15-yard line. Champ Bailey walks off the field flanked by trainers.
Q4 3:30: Johnson is stopped for no gain on first down. Second down is another handoff to the back, who is met in the backfield by Ayers for a loss of 1. Denver calls its second timeout of the half with Tennessee facing third-and-11.
Q4 2:56: Dawkins pressures Young after a fake handoff, nearly getting his hands on a pass that falls incomplete, forcing a Kern punt. From the doorstep of his own end zone, Kern gets off a 40-yarder, which Royal returns to the Tennessee 49-yard line.
Q4 2:42: Orton finds Gaffney on first down for a quick pickup of 5. The offense gets back to the line in a hurry, and Orton finds Lloyd for a first down before the receiver steps out of bounds to stop the clock. At the 35-yard line, Orton finds Royal, but there’s a flag on the play — holding on Ryan Clady. That makes it first-and-20 at the 45-yard line.
Q4 2:07: Orton is sacked at midfield, making it second-and-25 on the other side of the two-minute warning.
Q4 2:00: Orton lines up in the shotgun and escapes a sack before firing a pass to Gaffney in the end zone — the pass falls incomplete, but there are flags on the play. Pass interference on the Titans in the end zone, putting the ball at the 1-yard line. Russ Hochstein and Zane Beadles are both in the game as extra linemen. Orton keeps the ball on a quarterback sneak, but Denver is called for an illegal formation — not enough men on the line of scrimmage. That makes it first-and-goal at the 6-yard line.
Q4 1:44: Orton lofts a pass incomplete on first down. Second-and-goal brings a completion from Orton to Buckhalter, and the back finds the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown. The crowd is silent as Prater knocks home the extra point.
BRONCOS 23, TITANS 20
Q4 1:31: Prater’s kickoff is short and bounces at about the 20-yard line. It’s misplayed by the returner, Mariani, and the Broncos recover their own kickoff at the 20-yard line. David Bruton is down after the play. He is helped off the field by trainers — and Denver is now out of timeouts, as any injury with less than two minutes remaining in a game costs the team a timeout.
Q4 1:26: Maroney carries the ball on first down, and the ball comes loose. There’s a scrum — but Denver retains possession after the running back’s fumble. Tennessee calls a timeout after what ended up being a gain of a yard for the Broncos.
Q4 1:20: Tennessee calls its final timeout of the half after Buckhalter picks up 3 yards on a run. On third down, Buckhalter takes another carry for no gain as the clock continues to run.
Q4 0:33: Denver takes a delay-of-game penalty to let the clock run down as long as possible, and Prater is in to attempt a 36-yard field goal. The kicker drives it through the uprights to give the Broncos a six-point lead. It’s Prater’s fourth field goal of the day.
BRONCOS 26, TITANS 20
Q4 0:28: Prater kicks it to the 12-yard line and Mariani gets out to about the 35-yard line — but there’s a flag for holding on the Titans. Tennessee now starts with the ball at its own 23. First down brings a deep pass from Young that’s nearly caught in spectacular fashion by Britt on the sideline, but the ball hits the turf for an incompletion.
Q4 0:16: Young fires a pass deep down the sideline, intended for Britt once again. The receiver is blanketed by Darcel McBath and Perrish Cox, but nearly comes away with the ball — it appears to go right through his hands. On third down, the Titans are called for delay of game. On third-and-15, Young launches the ball downfield, but the Broncos are there to bat it down and seal the victory. The 26-20 win moves the Broncos to 2-2 with a trip to Baltimore up next.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com