COIN TOSS: Buffalo won the coin toss and has elected to receive. Denver’s captains at midfield were Ryan Clady, Brandon Lloyd, Champ Bailey, D.J. Williams and Eddie Royal.
PREGAME CEREMONY: Ninety-nine fans are running out of the tunnel and lining up in front of the Broncos players on the sideline, each receiving an autographed jersey. Owner and CEO Pat Bowlen and Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway were in the line of players handing over autographed jerseys.
KICKOFF: Matt Prater is on the field for the opening kickoff. It’s the first kickoff from the 35-yard line at Sports Authority Field at Mile High — let’s see if it’s a touchback. It is, after it was bobbled slightly about 6 yards into the end zone.
Q1 15:00: The starting defense is on the field — it’s Robert Ayers, Kevin Vickerson, and Elvis Dumervil on the line, D.J. Williams, Wesley Woodyard and Von Miller at linebacker, and Champ Bailey, Andre’ Goodman, Cassius Vaughn, Brian Dawkins and Rahim Moore in the secondary.
Q1 14:03: After a 5-yard run by C.J. Spiller, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick scrambled for 4 yards, setting up third-and-1. Elvis Dumervil was having none of a third-down run, stuffing it at the line of scrimmage to bring up fourth down after a quick three-and-out. The Bills fake a punt, however, and Brad Smith takes a direct snap ahead for the first down.
Q1 11:52: Spiller picks up 14 yards for a first down at the Buffalo 47-yard line, then grabs a screen pass that looks to be taking shape, but Vaughn snuffs it out after 3 yards. Now second-and-7 at midfield, Fitzpatrick is hit hard by Moore on a blitz, but get the pass away to Stevie Johnson for a first down at the Denver 39-yard line.
Q1 10:06: Buffalo is pretty screen happy at the moment, hitting tight end Scott Chandler for a 9-yard gain on first down. On second down, Fitzpatrick hands off to Fred Jackson, who finds the left sideline after turning the corner for a first down at the 22-yard line.
Q1 9:09: On the ensuing first down, Fitzpatrick drops back and fires an incomplete pass with Joe Mays in tight coverage on Chandler. Now second-and-10, Fitzpatrick tries to loft a pass to Donald Jones in the corner of the end zone, but Vaughn is there all the way, nearly grabbing an interception — but the ball slipped through his hands. That makes it third down, and Dumervil nearly has a sack, taking down Fitzgerald just as the quarterback got away an incomplete pass. Rian Lindell is now in for a 40-yard field goal attempt — and it’s good to give Buffalo an early lead.
BILLS 3, BRONCOS 0
Q1 8:39: After a touchback through the back of the end zone, the Broncos take over at the 20-yard line. The starting offense is on the field, led by Kyle Orton at quarterback. Ryan Clady, Zane Beadles, J.D. Walton, Chris Kuper and Orlando Franklin are on the line. Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royal are at receiver, Knowshon Moreno is in the backfield, and Daniel Fells and Julius Thomas line up at tight end.
Q1 8:32: Orton’s first pass is to the rookie, Thomas, for 5 yards. On second down, Moreno takes a carry, but is taken down after a 2-yard gain. Now third-and-3, Orton fires to Lloyd on the sideline, who somehow leaps, reaches backward and underneath him at the same time — another one of his signature circus catches — for the first down. It’s an 18-yard gain.
Q1 6:34: After a 1-yard run on first down, Marcel Dareus sacks Orton on second down. The Bills had a league-high nine sacks last week. On third down, Orton hits Royal for a first down, but there are flags on the field. Two fouls on the play — illegal formation on the offense, and 12 men on the field on the defense — they offset, and the down will be replayed. So on the next play, Orton looks for Royal again, but the receiver drops a pass coming across the middle of the field. Britton Colquitt is in to punt for Denver — his kick bounces through the end zone for a touchback.
Q1 5:06: Brodrick Bunkley drills Fitzpatrick on first down, forcing a high pass that sails incomplete. Dawkins was there for a big hit had it been completed. And on second down, there’s Von Miller for the first sack of his NFL career — good for an 8-yard loss.
Q1 4:29: On third-and-18, Miller was near the quarterback again, but it’s yet another screen pass from the Bills. It picks up 7 yards before Dawkins puts an end to it. This time the Bills punt on fourth down, and David Anderson is there to receive it. He takes it up to the Denver 34-yard line, where the offense will take back over.
Q1 3:39: On first down, Moreno picks up 8 yards after finding a hole in the line. On second down, Orton hits Moreno with a pass out of the backfield, and he puts a quick move on a linebacker to sprint for 12 yards and a first down in Bills territory. The ensuing first down is nearly a big completion to Fells, but the pass is tipped at the last moment by Nick Barnett. Second down is a run by Willis McGahee — the veteran fights through tacklers for 2 yards. On third-and-8 at the Buffalo 44-yard line, Orton is in the shotgun. He drops back and hits Moreno, who plows through a tackler — Leodis McKelvin — for the first down.
Q1 1:44: On first down, it’s a play-action pass to Lloyd, who hauls it in on the sideline for a first down. The next play is a handoff to McGahee, who is brought down at the line of scrimmage. Second-and-10 brings a screen pass to McGahee, who fights past blockers before he’s up-ended at the 1-yard line as the first quarter comes to a close. It was a 20-yard gain.
Q2 15:00: On first-and-goal at the 1, McGahee is spun around almost immediately by a defender, but he keeps pushing the line and nearly gets in, but he’s marked down at the 1. On second-and-goal, McGahee gets another carry, and he finds the end zone for a touchdown as Spencer Larsen pumps his fist. Hauschka’s extra point is good.
BRONCOS 7, BILLS 3
Q2 14:21: Just a couple notes on that scoring drive — it was 10 plays and spanned 66 yards. Orton was 4-of-5 for 55 yards. Prater is in to kick off — and it’s the third touchback of the game, and looked like it might’ve gone through the uprights.
Q2 14:19: On first down, Fitzpatrick tries to throw a back-shoulder pass to Stevie Johnson, but Goodman is right there to break it up. On second down, Fitzpatrick hits C.J. Spiller across the middle, and Von Miller is there to stop the sprinting back cold in his tracks before the rest of the defense got there to finish the job. It was still an 8-yard gain, making it third-and-2 at the 28-yard line. Fred Jackson takes the carry for the first down before he’s brought down hard by D.J. Williams.
Q2 12:25: Brad Smith is in to take a snap in the Wildcat formation, but Wesley Woodyard is there to take down the quarterback/wide receiver after 2 yards. On second down, it’s Dumervil who brings down Spiller for no gain, bringing up third-and-8 at the Buffalo 36-yard line. Fitzpatrick is in the shotgun — he fires to Naaman Roosevelt, but Champ Bailey is there to break it up, and the cornerback is fired up on his way back to the sideline. Anderson again is back to field the punt on fourth down, and he takes it out to the 24-yard line.
Q2 10:59: Orton hits fells for a big gain down the middle of the field — a 21-yard gain, to be exact. On the next first-and-10, Orton quickly finds Lloyd for an 8-yard gain. Second down brings a run from Moreno, and the back powers his way forward for the first down with a big burst. The ball is now at the Buffalo 41-yard line, and Orton tries to quickly snap the ball to catch Buffalo off guard and with too many men on the field — but the refs signal that the Bills called a timeout just in time.
Q2 9:28: It’s a run by Moreno to his left, and he finds the corner and gives a nasty stiff-arm to Drayton Florence as he picks up 9 yards. On second down, Lloyd nearly had what could have an argument for the catch of the season already — yes it would’ve been that good. He was totally outstretched and nearly brought the ball in diving with one hand. When he didn’t catch it, he hopped up angrily clapping like he should’ve had it. The Broncos called a timeout after the play, facing third-and-1 at the 32-yard line.
Q2 8:55: On third down, Orton hands off to McGahee, who bobbles the handoff, but still manages to bully his way for the first down. Now at the 29-yard line, Orton fakes a handoff to Moreno before giving it to Royal on an end-around, but Barnett is there to take down the receiver in the backfield. On second-and-11, Orton fires to Lloyd for another first down. Afterward, he walks over to the Buffalo sideline and signals “You can’t see me” to the crowd in celebration.
Q2 6:40: After a 2-yard run by Moreno, Orton finds McGahee out of the backfield and the back scampers down the sideline for his second touchdown of the game — and the second of his Broncos career. Hauschka’s extra point is up and good, and the Broncos extend the lead.
BRONCOS 14, BILLS 3
Q2 6:22: The defense was offsides on the extra point, so 5 yards will be assessed on the kickoff. Prater from the 40 — wonder if it will be a touchback. Yep, the fourth of the game. Fitzpatrick and the Bills offense takes over from the 20. The quarterback tries to get a pass away that is tipped by Bunkley at the line, and the tackle nearly tracked down the tip for an interception. Well, nearly might be an exaggeration — but he was fairly close, clapping in frustration when the ball hit the ground. On second down, D.J. Williams absolutely flattens Fitzpatrick on a blitz — and Von Miller was right there on the other side providing pressure — but the quarterback got an incomplete pass away. On third down, Miller gets his second sack — but he was offsides. After the 5-yard penalty, the Bills have third-and-5 at the 25-yard line.
Q2 5:54: On third down, Fitzpatrick is in the shotgun. He takes the snap and quickly hits a receiver, who is brought down by Wesley Woodyard, but the ball comes loose in the process, and Rahim Moore scoops it up and returns it for a touchdown. But the refs say that not only was it a reception and not a fumble, Dumervil is called for roughing the passer, tacking on 15 yards and an automatic first down.
Q2 5:20: Spiller is gobbled up in the backfield on first down, bringing up second-and-11 for the Bills at their own 45-yard line. There’s a mixup behind the line — Spiller runs into Fitzpatrick on a handoff — but the back still manages to spin away. That doesn’t mean he’s not still taken out by Andre’ Goodman and an extremely fired up D.J. Williams for an 8-yard loss. Now third-and-19, Fitzpatrick fires down the sideline, but it’s incomplete as Moore lays a huge hit on the receiver. Flags fly, however, and there’s a personal foul called on Moore for the hit. Both teams are fired up after the play, getting pretty chippy. The receiver is still down after the play — hard to see a number from here. It’s Donald Jones. He’s getting tended to on the sideline. Looking at the replay, it was a pretty scary hit.
Q2 3:48: Jones is up and walking on the sideline, so that’s good to see. After the penalty, Buffalo has a first down at the Denver 48-yard line. Goodman knocks down Stevie Johnson on an incomplete pass, bringing up second down. It’s a run by Jackson, who turns the corner and fits all the way to the 28-yard line — a 20-yard gain. Jackson is swallowed up by the Broncos defense on the next play for no gain. Robert Ayers looks to nearly get a sack on the next play, but Fitzpatrick throws an errant pass under pressure. The pass is tipped in the air by the receiver, then tipped again by Joe Mays and finally intercepted by D.J. Williams. The offense takes over, and Brady Quinn is now in at quarterback.
Q2 2:00: After a 6-yard run by Lance Ball, the Broncos have a second down at their own 33-yard line as the clock winds down to the two-minute warning.
Q2 1:50: Ball takes another carry as the clock continues to run. He picks up 5 yards, leaving the team with third-and-1. It’s another run by Ball, and the back picks up the first down. On first down with just about a minute to go, Quinn throws his first pass — a strike across the middle to Matt Willis in Bills territory. The offense hurries back to the line, and Quinn takes the snap. He fires a pass that is nearly intercepted by Reggie Corner — it was intended for Daniel Fells. The incomplete stops the clock.
Q2 0:23: Quinn finds Royal on another strike down the middle of the field, and the receiver dives forward for a few extra yards. It ends up being a 20-yard gain to the Buffalo 25-yard line, and the team calls a timeout. Lance Ball must have glue on his hands as he brings in a Quinn bullet with one hand as the quarterback was hit. The back runs to the 11-yard line, and there’s a flag on the play for roughing the passer, pushing the ball half the distance to the goal closer.
Q2 0:13: The penalty stopped the clock and gave the Broncos first-and-goal at the 5-yard line. Quinn takes the snap and hands off to Ball, who is stopped after 2 yards. Denver calls its final timeout of the half.
Q2 0:07: On second-and-goal, Quinn is in the shotgun. He takes the snap and fires toward Eric Decker in the end zone, but it’s intercepted by Terrence McGee in the end zone. The cornerback makes a valiant effort to return it all the way, but he is tackled after 50 yards to bring the first half to a close. Denver still leads 14-3.
See you in the Second Half Blog.