PREGAME INTRODUCTIONS: The starting defense is being introduced before the start of the game, and as usual it’s Brian Dawkins last out of the tunnel, making sure the entire stadium is fired up.
COIN TOSS: The Broncos have won the coin toss and will receive to start the game.
Q1 15:00: Eddie Royal is back deep to receive the opening kickoff. The kick sails out of the back of the end zone for a touchback. Now the offensive starters are on the field, led by Kyle Orton at quarterback. Ryan Clady, Zane Beadles, J.D. Walton, Chris Kuper and Ryan Harris are on the offensive line. Knowshon Moreno and Spencer Larsen are in the backfield. Jabar Gaffney and Royal are at receiver, and Daniel Graham is at tight end. The first play of the game from the 20-yard line is a pass to Larsen out of the backfield, who trucks over a Rams defender for a first down — a gain of 11.
Q1 14:25: Orton finds Lloyd for a 14-yard gain and another first down. The following play is another completion from Orton, this one to Moreno for an 18-yard gain and yet another first down. With the ball at the St. Louis 37-yard line, Orton throws his first incompletion of the day.
Q1 13:17: On second-and-10, Moreno gets a carry down the sideline for 16 yards and another first down. The ball is now at the 21-yard line, and Lance Ball takes a carry through a big hole on the left side of the offensive line for a first down inside the 5. It’s first-and-goal at the 4-yard line. Orton is in the shotgun, and he hands off to Moreno, who pushes his way into the end zone for a touchdown. Matt Prater’s extra point is up and in, and the Broncos take an early lead on the Rams.
BRONCOS 7, RAMS 0
Q1 11:46: Prater’s kickoff is fielded by Danny Amendola at the 1-yard line, and he takes it out to the 39, where the Rams will take over on offense. The starting Broncos defense is on the field. Justin Bannan, Jamal Williams and Kevin Vickerson are on the line. Mario Haggan, Joe Mays, D.J. Williams and Robert Ayers are at linebacker, and the secondary consists of Champ Bailey, Perrish Cox, Renaldo Hill and Brian Dawkins.
Q1 11:17: On first down, Ayers is there to take down Steven Jackson after a 1-yard run. Second-and-9 brings another run by Jackson, and he is brought down quickly by Dawkins before he can find much room. On third-and-6, Sam Bradford is in the shotgun and fires his first pass of the game — it’s an incomplete pass, which at first looked to be completed to Amendola and then fumbled and recovered by the Broncos. After a quick huddle, the refs ruled it incomplete. Royal is back deep to return Donnie Jones’ punt, but the kick sails high and bounces into the end zone for a touchback. The Broncos will start from their own 20.
Q1 10:17: First down is a reverse to Royal, who follows the lead blocking of his offensive linemen and none other than Kyle Orton for a 20-yard pickup and a first down. After an incompletion, Orton finds Dan Gronkowski for a gain of 13 and a first down. Moreno takes a pitch on the following play, picking up 9 yards down to the St. Louis 38-yard line. The running back picks up 3 more yards on the next play for a first down at the 35. Orton fakes a handoff to Moreno before firing to a wide open Brandon Lloyd down the sideline in the end zone — but the receiver can’t quite come away with the pass and it sails out of bounds. On second-and-10, Moreno doesn’t get a block on a blitzing defender, who hits Orton hard as he tries to quickly get the ball to Moreno. On third-and-10, Orton is pressured again before finding Graham for a short gain, bringing out Prater on fourth down.
Q1 7:29: Prater’s 49-yard field goal attempt sails through the uprights to extend the Denver lead.
BRONCOS 10, RAMS 0
Q1 7:24: An end-around to Amendola picks up 13 yards, and Steven Jackson follows that up with a 2-yard run. On the next play, Daniel Fells takes a pass from Bradford for a gain of 10 and a first down at the St. Louis 45-yard line. The next play has Bradford in the shotgun. He drops back and fires a pass that is tipped in the air at the line by Bannan. After the first-down incompletion, Jackson runs for a gain of 3. Third-and-7 brings a pass from Bradford, who is hit hard by D.J. Williams just as he gets a pass away to Brandon Gibson for a first down.
Q1 4:22: After a 6-yard completion on first down, D.J. Williams and Steven Jackson meet in a big collision to stop the running back after a gain of a yard. On third down, Dawkins sails in to make a tackle on Fells short of the first down marker. On fourth-and-1, however, the Rams offense is still on the field at the 35-yard line. It’s Jackson with the carry, and he picks up the first — barely.
Q1 1:59: Joe Mays tackles Jackson for a 2-yard loss on the following play, so the Rams face a second-and-12 at the 36-yard line. Bradford connects with his tight end Michael Hoomanawanui on a screen pass, and the rookie sprints behind his blockers for a touchdown. Josh Brown’s extra point is good, and the Rams trail by three.
BRONCOS 10, RAMS 7
Q1 1:32: After a touchback, the Broncos start with a first-and-10 at their own 20-yard line. After a run by Moreno for a gain of 3, the back takes another carry down the sideline for 8 more and a first down. The ensuing play brings a fake handoff and a completion to Lloyd for a gain of 16 and another first down to bring the first quarter to a close.
Q2 15:00: Moreno picks up a yard on the first play of the second quarter. Second-and-9 brings a fake handoff followed by a deep pass from Orton to Gaffney, who hauls it in down the sideline before being brought down at the 24-yard line. The ensuing first down is a run by Moreno, and the back is taken down after a gain of 3. Eric Decker is on the field at receiver for the second-and-7 play, but it’s a quick screen pass to Moreno. The back, however, is tackled behind the line of scrimmage by James Laurinaitis. On third-and-8 at the 22-yard line, Orton’s pass is tipped and falls incomplete. Prater jogs onto the field to attempt a 40-yard field goal on fourth down, and it’s through the uprights.
BRONCOS 13, RAMS 7
Q2 12:27: Prater’s kickoff is downed in the end zone for a touchback, so the Rams start their drive from their own 20-yard line. On first down, Amendola takes an end-around 30 yards to midfield. The following two plays net 7 yards, setting up a third-and-3 at the Denver 43-yard line. The Rams step up to the line with Bradford in the shotgun. The rookie drops back and finds Laurent Robinson open in the middle of the field for a first down at the 32. Kevin Vickerson was down after the play, but he walks off the field under his own power with a bit of a limp, flanked by trainers.
Q2 10:20: On first down, Jackson takes a carry at the middle of the Broncos defense, and the defense stonewalls him after a gain of a yard. On second down, Bradford steps up in the pocket and tries to find Billy Bajema, but the tight end drops the ball. On third down, Bradford finds Danario Alexander, who stays low and fights his way forward for a first down at the 19-yard line. Denver call its first timeout of the half.
Q2 8:53: Justin Bannan is at it again on the ensuing first down, swatting away Bradford’s pass at the line. Jackson carries for 4 yards on second down, setting up third-and-6 at the 15-yard line. Dawkins is inciting the crowd as Bradford drops back into the shotgun. D.J. Williams narrowly misses an interception as the ball finds Danario Alexander, and the receiver dives forward and stretches the ball toward the goal line before it comes loose and is recovered by the Broncos in the end zone. The refs rule the receiver down short of the goal line before the ball came out. Both St. Louis Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo and Broncos Head Coach Josh McDaniels throw challenge flags. Presumably McDaniels was challenging whether the receiver fumbled, but the refs credit Spagnuolo’s challenge, as the Rams head coach was questioning whether the ruling should’ve been a touchdown.
Q2 7:22: The ruling on the field stands, in that the receiver was down at the 1-yard line, where the Rams have a first-and-goal. St. Louis is charged a timeout. The ensuing play is a run, and the Broncos stop the back short of the goal line. On second down, a group of Broncos led by Joe Mays meet Steven Jackson in the backfield to drop him for a loss of a yard. On third-and-goal from the 2, St. Louis calls its second timeout of the half.
Q2 5:53: On third down after the timeout, Bradford drops back and scrambles to his left before firing a pass to Bajema in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Josh Brown’s extra point is good, and the Rams take the lead.
RAMS 14, BRONCOS 13
Q2 5:28: Royal takes Brown’s kickoff to the 25-yard line, where the Broncos offense takes over. After two Orton incompletions — including one near-catch by Lloyd deep down the sideline — Denver calls its second timeout of the half before third-and-10. On the other side of the break, Orton is in the shotgun. He barks out instructions to the line before dropping back, rolling to his right and finding Moreno quickly, who weaves his way through defenders but is brought down a yard short of the line to gain. After a big hit to his legs, Moreno limps a bit off the field as Britton Colquitt and the Denver special teams unit heads onto the field. After taking a delay-of-game penalty, Colquitt punts the ball to the waiting Amendola, who takes the 52-yard punt 10 yards to the 19-yard line.
Q2 3:34: On first down, Bradford fires deep down the sideline to Alexander, who comes away with the reception after Perrish Cox stumbled in coverage. The 45-yard gain puts the ball at the Denver 26-yard line. The defense forces Bradford out of the pocket on the next play, and Haggan hits him hard as the rookie throws an incompletion. On second-and-10, Bradford finds a wide-open Bajema for his second touchdown of the afternoon, this one a 26-yarder. Brown’s extra point bounces off the upright and is no good, so the Rams lead by 7.
RAMS 20, BRONCOS 13
Q2 2:53: Royal takes a knee in the end zone for a touchback, so the Broncos have a first-and-10 at their own 20-yard line. On first down, Orton is in the shotgun. He throws a pass that is tipped at the line before falling incomplete. On second down, Orton’s pass intended for Moreno is incomplete. On third-and-10, Orton is sacked, so St. Louis calls a timeout to preserve time in the half. Colquitt is in to punt from his own goal line. The kick is fielded by Amendola at about the 33-yard line, and he takes the 51-yard punt 7 yards to the 40. Immediately Bradford hooks up with Robinson on a play-action pass that picks up 18 yards to bring the half to the two-minute warning.
Q2 2:00: On first down, Bradford finds Amendola for a 16-yard gain and another first down. After a false start penalty, the Rams face a first-and-15 at the 31-yard line. Bradford attempts a pass downfield and Perrish Cox is called for pass interference, giving the Rams a new first down at the 16-yard line. Bradford immediately finds Amendola again for a 6-yard gain. On second-and-4, Bradford throws an incompletion. Third-and-4 at the 10 has Bradford in the shotgun. He tries to fire to the left side of the end zone but D.J. Williams jumps in front of the pass to knock it down for an incompletion. Josh Brown is in to attempt a 28-yard field goal — and it’s good to increase the St. Louis lead to 10.
RAMS 23, BRONCOS 13
Q2 0:47: Eddie Royal returns the ensuing kickoff to about the 23-yard line before leaping into the air to avoid a defender. He’s hit by another Ram, who jars the ball loose and St. Louis falls on the fumble. Denver calls its final timeout of the half, however, to ensure the refs have plenty of time to review the play since it came with less than two minutes remaining in the half. The refs do in fact elect to review the play.
Q2 0:46: The ruling on the field of a fumble stands, and St. Louis has the ball at the Denver 23-yard line. On first down, Jackson runs the ball for 4 yards. On second down, Bradford rolls to his right and scrambles back to the line of scrimmage, where Haggan chases him out of bounds for the sack. On third down, Bradford is in the shotgun. He drops back and throws an incompletion intended for Laurent Robinson. On fourth down, Brown is in to attempt a 37-yard field goal, and it’s good with 14 seconds remaining.
RAMS 26, BRONCOS 13
Q2 0:08: Royal brings the ensuing kickoff out to the 23-yard line, where the offense takes over. Correll Buckhalter takes a carry for 12 yards and a first down to bring the first half to a close.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com