COIN TOSS: Wesley Woodyard, Brian Dawkins, Russ Hochstein, Kyle Orton, Mario Haggan and Jabar Gaffney stepped to midfield as captains for the coin toss. Detroit calls heads — and it is heads. The Lions elect to receive, so Matt Prater is out for the kickoff to get the game underway.
14:56: David Bruton gets the game started with a tackle of Tim Toone at the 20-yard line, where the Lions will start their drive. The first play of the game is a short pass to Jahvid Best, followed a run by Best. On third-and-4, Matthew Stafford is in the shotgun formation. The quarterback drops back and tries to find Calvin Johnson, but the pass falls incomplete. There is a flag on the play, however — rather, a hat thrown by the ref. As it turns out, there were two fouls on the play — an illegal formation on the Lions and pass interference on the Broncos. The penalties offset and it’s third down again.
13:37: On the following play, Stafford drops back and finds Nate Burleson for the first down. The next play brings a run by Best, and the back picks up a big chunk of yards, plus 15 — Brian Dawkins is called for a facemask. The next play is another first down pass from Stafford to the Denver 12-yard line.
10:45: After an incompletion, the Lions face a third-and-7 from the Denver 9-yard line. Stafford sets up in the shotgun and fires a pass toward Johnson in the back corner of the end zone, but Andre’ Goodman is right there in coverage and the pass falls incomplete. Kicker Steven Hauschka is out to attempt a short field goal — and he knocks home the 28-yarder to give the Lions the lead.
LIONS 3, BRONCOS 0
10:37: Perrish Cox is back to field the kickoff, but Hauschka’s kick goes through the back of the end zone for a touchback. The Broncos take over at their own 20-yard line, and Kyle Orton trots onto the field with the rest of the starting offense which includes Marquez Branson at tight end, D’Anthony Batiste at left tackle, Zane Beadles at left guard, J.D. Walton at center, Russ Hochstein at right guard, Ryan Harris at right tackle and Jabar Gaffney, Brandon Lloyd, Eddie Royal and Matthew Willis are at receiver.
10:33: After an incompletion aimed at Royal and a four-yard gain on a run by Lance Ball, Orton scrambles out of the pocket, buying time until Royal can come free for a big gain on a completion. There’s a flag on the play, however — illegal formation on the Broncos, as Harris wasn’t on the line of scrimmage. That makes it third-and-11 on the Denver 19-yard line. Orton lines up in the shotgun and avoids a couple sacks before finding Ball on a dumpoff pass. After the short gain, however, Kyle Vanden Bosch is called for a late hit, giving the Broncos an automatic first down.
8:54: The ensuing first down brings a long bomb from Orton toward Lloyd — but the ball sails just past the receiver for an incompletion. On second-and-10 at the Denver 39-yard line, Orton again lines up in the shotgun. This time he finds Eric Decker — the rookie’s first NFL reception — for a 5-yard gain. On third down, Orton drops back and fires toward Lloyd’s back shoulder, but a defender was impeding his path to the ball, forcing an incompletion and drawing a pass interference penalty on Lions cornerback Chris Houston. The ball is now on the Detroit 38-yard line.
7:54: After a 7-yard gain on a run by Ball, the running back takes a handoff on second down for a gain of a yard. On third down, Justin Fargas is in at running back, and Orton is back in the shotgun. He finds Gaffney for the first down at the 25-yard line.
6:48: Fargas takes his first carry as a Bronco on first down, but the back loses a yard on the play. On second down, Orton lines up under center. He drops back and quickly tries to dump the pass off to Lance Ball, but the pass bounces off the running back’s hands into the air — where it is picked off by Dre’ Bly. The cornerback celebrates his return to the Denver 27-yard line by spinning the football on the turf as the crowd at INVESCO Field at Mile High boos the former Bronco.
5:49: After the interception, Stafford and the Lions are back on the field. The first-down play is a handoff to Best, who picks up 7 yards. On second down, Stafford floats a pass deep to Calvin Johnson, who leaps up and over Goodman for the 20-yard touchdown. Hauschka’s extra point is up and in, giving the Lions a 10-0 lead.
LIONS 10, BRONCOS 0
5:11: Cox, who started the game at cornerback in place of Champ Bailey, is back to receive the kickoff. He takes a knee in the back of the end zone for a touchback. On the ensuing first-down at the 20-yard line, Orton drops back and hands off to Fargas, who picks up a quick 2 yards. On second down, Orton twice avoids a sack before finding Willis who sprang open for a big gain. Batiste is called for holding on the play, however, negating the gain and pushing the ball back to the 12-yard line, where Denver is faced with second-and-18.
3:30: After an 8-yard screen pass, Orton fires a pass deep intended for Lloyd on third down, but the receiver seemed to look for the ball a little early, and the pass flew just past his hands to bring up fourth down. Britton Colquitt’s punt is returned by Tim Toone to the Denver 48-yard line, but an illegal formation penalty on the Broncos moves the ball forward 5 more yards. Detroit is set up with a first-and-10 at the Denver 43-yard line.
3:03: On first down, Best fumbles the handoff, but falls on the ball for a loss of 2 yards. The running back gets a pass from Stafford on second down, picking up 6 yards. Third down brings a pass from Stafford to former Bronco Tony Scheffler, and the tight end picks up the first down to a chorus of boos from the crowd at INVESCO. The ensuing first down on the Denver 26-yard line is a handoff to Best, and the back is brought down after a loss of three by Le Kevin Smith. On second down, Stafford drops back into the shotgun and fires quickly to Burleson for another first down.
0:15: On first down, Best took a handoff for 8 yards, then took the ball again on second down, setting up a first-and-goal at the Denver 4-yard line as the first quarter comes to a close.
Q2 15:00: Mario Haggan is there on first-and-goal to bring down Best behind the line of scrimmage. Now it’s second-and-goal on the 5-yard line for the Lions, and Stafford is chased out of the pocket and sacked by Robert Ayers and Justin Bannan. That makes it third-and-goal from back at the 15-yard line. Stafford lines up in the shotgun for the play, and the crowd at INVESCO is on its feet. You can feel the stadium shaking even in the preseason. The play is a fake handoff, and Stafford is forced to try to pick up the yardage with his feet, but he’s chased out of bounds at the 9-yard line. Hauschka’s 27-yard field goal is up and in, however, giving the Lions a 13-point lead.
LIONS 13, BRONCOS 0
Q2 13:18: After another touchback, the Broncos offense is back on the field. Orton is sacked on first down and the ball comes loose — but referee Ed Hochuli rules that the quarterback’s forward progress was halted and the play was blown dead before the fumble. On second down, Orton quickly finds Royal who darts between defenders for a gain of 8 to the 21-yard line, making it third-and-9. Orton lines up in the shotgun and fires to Gaffney, who picks up a first down to the 40-yard line — but there’s a flag on the play. It’s holding on the defense, and the penalty is declined. Denver has a first down at the 40.
Q2 10:18: After a 2-yard run by Ball, Orton fires to Gaffney, who goes up and over his receiver on the sideline to haul in the pass at the Detroit 39-yard line. Ball follows that up with 4-yard gain, then Denver is hit with an illegal motion penalty on second down, making it second-and-11. Orton sees Lloyd’s cornerback is blitzing, so the quarterback fires the ball to the receiver for a quick 5-yard gain. Now third-and-6, Orton lines up in the shotgun. He takes the snap, scans the field and fires a pass that is tipped at the line, bringing up fourth down. Orton motions to keep the offense on the field, and the Broncos are going for it on fourth-and-6 at the 35-yard line. Orton lines up in the shotgun, drops back and finds Gaffney for another first down just in front of his defender. The receiver pounds his chest a little as the Broncos have a first down at the 21-yard line.
Q2 8:06: A 2-yard run is followed up by a fake handoff and a pass from Orton to Marquez Branson, who picks up 4 yards. On third down, Orton steps up and finds Ball, who stiff arms his defender and then leaps over a second into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown. Matt Prater’s extra point is up and in, and the Broncos pull to within six points.
LIONS 13, BRONCOS 7
Q2 2:00: Bit of a computer glitch — my apologies — but the Lions are stringing together a drive. They now have a first down at the Denver 11-yard line after a 23-yard pass from Stafford to Maurice Morris. On the ensuing first down, Stafford lofts a ball out of the back of the end zone to bring up second-and-10. Stafford is in the shotgun and tries to find a diving Scheffler in the end zone, but the ball goes through his hands. The INVESCO crowd gleefully chants “IN-COM-PLETE!” On third down, Stafford is again in the shotgun, and the crowd is on its feet making plenty of noise. The Lions quarterback rolls to his left and tries to find Bryant Johnson, but the ball flies out of the back of the end zone incomplete. Now Hauschka is back in for a 29-yard field goal attempt — and it’s good. The Lions now lead by nine with 59 seconds remaining in the first half.
LIONS 16, BRONCOS 7
Q2 0:59: Matthew Willis is back deep to return the kickoff. The kick goes out of the back of the end zone for a touchback, and the Broncos take over at their own 20-yard line. On first down, Orton fires to Gaffney in the middle of the field for a completion, and the offense hurries to the line. On second down, Orton steps up and finds Gaffney again down to the Detroit 40-yard line, and Denver calls its first timeout.
Q2 0:28: Orton fires deep to Gaffney on the sideline, but the receiver hauls it in out of bounds, bringing up second-and-10. Orton is back in the shotgun and finds Willis in the middle of the field for another first down on the 27-yard line and Denver calls is second timeout of the half.
Q2 0:22: The offense breaks the huddle, and Orton lines up in the shotgun with three receivers out wide. He pumps then fires quickly to Branson, who is brought down at about the 22-yard line. Denver calls its final timeout with 15 seconds remaining in the half. On second-and-5, Orton drops back but Detroit called a timeout before the play. When the play is run, Orton fires deep toward the end zone, but the pass is incomplete. There’s a flag on the play — personal foul for facemask on the Lions. It’s a 15-yard penalty, giving the Broncos a first down at the 11-yard line after the half-the-distance-to-the-goal markoff. With 10 seconds remaining, Orton fires to Branson, who dives into the end zone for a touchdown. The entire offense runs to the first-year tight end for a celebration, and Matt Prater’s extra point is up and in to bring the Broncos to within two.
LIONS 16, BRONCOS 14
Q2 0:03: Prater’s kickoff is a squib kick, which is fielded by Will Heller, bringing the first half to a close. See you in the Second Half Blog.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com