15:00: It’s third-and-8 for the Saints on their own 36. Drew Brees drops back and finds an open receiver for a first down. There’s a flag on the play, but it’s offsides on the Broncos.
14:37: D.J. Williams puts a big hit on Reggie Bush after a three-yard gain on a pass from Brees, setting up second-and-7.
13:16: INVESCO Field at Mile High is a little less raucous as the Saints continue to pick up first downs into Broncos territory, but the Broncos still lead New Orleans by eight, they scored 34 points before the fourth quarter even began and the defense has scored a touchdown this afternoon. It’s been a pretty solid day so far — now if only Reggie Bush would stop picking up first downs.
13:16: Pierre Thomas takes a handoff and runs 10 yards in for the touchdown, diving for the pylon. The Saints elect to go for two to tie the game, but Brees’ pass falls incomplete. The Broncos lead by two over the Saints, 34-32.
10:00: The Saints special teams unit walks onto the field while the cheerleaders are performing, and they’re met with a round of boos from the INVESCO Field faithful. Now both teams are on the field and Andre Hall and Peyton Hillis are back to receive for Denver.
Hall takes it at the one, and runs it out to the 23-yard line. First-and-10 for the Broncos. Eddie Royal takes the reverse to the right sideline near the marker, and there’s a flag on the play — after Royal was out of bounds, unnecessary roughness on the Saints. It sets up a first down at the 44-yard line.
9:00: Brandon Marshall catches a pass from Jay Cutler with the defense draping all over him — it’s a pass interference call, but it’s declined, because Marshall takes the pass and avoids several tacklers before getting tripped up by what looked like a touchdown-saving shoestring tackle after a 28-yard gain.
7:57: Tony Scheffler takes a pass from Cutler and takes it up the right sideline for a nine-yard gain on first down. On second down, Cutler’s pass falls incomplete as he avoids pressure. On third down, the offense is called for a false start penalty, bringing up third-and-6.
Cutler lines up in the shotgun, flanked by Peyton Hillis and Michael Pittman. He proceeds to find Brandon Stokley at the marker for the first down after Pittman picked up a big block. Stokley is fired up and it’s a first down for Denver just inside the New Orleans 20-yard line.
6:30: Cutler drops back and fires a pass out left to Tony Scheffler to set up a first-and-goal at the eight-yard line. Miles is standing in the back of the end zone, watching intently. Several of the fans in the endzone are waving the offense in, hoping for another Broncos drive to be capped off by a touchdown.
5:33: Cutler completes a pass to Tony Scheffler at the five-yard line as what looks like the entire Saints defense closes in on him, but Scheffler fumbles the ball and it’s picked up by Saints cornerback Jason David and returned 25 yards before Casey Wiegmann tackles him out of bounds.
From the replays it looks like Scheffler might not have ever had control, or even when he did took only one step. The rule is the player has to take two steps or make a “football move” in order for it to be ruled a fumble as opposed to an incomplete pass. Play has been stopped for an official review — Head Coach Mike Shanahan threw out the red flag.
The ref is back on the field — he says the ball was in Scheffler’s possession and takes two steps upfield. The ruling on the field stands — the Saints have the ball at the 21-yard line, and it cost the Broncos their final timeout.
5:33: The crowd is on its feet in support of the defense as Brees takes the snap in the shotgun formation. His pass is intended for Jeremy Shockey, but Nate Webster and Boss Bailey collapse on the tight end and force an incompletion.
On second down, with Dumervil closing in, Brees finds Shockey for a seven-yard gain, bringing up third-and-3. The crowd is really going and Kenny Peterson hits Brees as he finds Devery Henderson, who runs for a 23-yard gain and a first down.
Boss Bailey is down after the play. He gets up under his own power and walks off the field, and play resumes with the Saints at the Denver 48-yard line with a first down.
4:00: Jamie Winborn tackles Lance Moore after a 15-yard pickup. The Saints have the ball at the Denver 33 with a first down, and Reggie Bush takes the handoff. He’s brought down by Marquand Manuel after a seven-yard gain.
Marlon McCree is down after the play. He too gets up and walks off the field under his own power, flanked by two trainers.
3:00: Bush takes a handoff and runs up the middle for two yards, setting up third-and-1 at the 24-yard line. The crowd is on its feet and INVESCO is shaking. D.J. Williams bursts through the line and makes a huge stop on Pierre Thomas behind the line.
As the clock clicks down to the two minute warning, the Saints face a fourth-and-2 from the 25-yard line.
2:00: Martin Gramatica is out to attempt a 43-yard field goal that would put the Saints ahead by a point. The Broncos are out of timeouts. There’s not a body in a seat as the crowd watches the Denver special teams unit attempt to block the field goal.
Gramatica’s kick is no good — wide right. Nate Webster runs to the crowd in the endzone, getting them riled up. Kenny Peterson runs out to greet Webster and it’s all high fives and hugs on the Broncos sideline as the offense trots out on the field with 1:55 remaining in the game, the ball at their own 33.
1:50: New Orleans takes its third and final timeout after a two-yard run by Selvin Young.
1:50: Young picks up another six yards on second down and the clock continues to run. On third-and-2, Michael Pittman takes the ball outside of the right tackle and is brought down after a loss of four yards. The clock is still running as both teams are out of bounds.
Brett Kern is out to punt the ball away for Denver with Reggie Bush back to receive. He gets the ball inside the 10 and is tackled at the 20-yard line by Niko Koutouvides.
0:08: The defense is back as Brees lets go of a pass that falls incomplete. With two seconds remaining in the half, Brees will have one last chance to get the ball in the endzone. The Broncos are rushing three as the rest of the DBs and linebackers are backed up to about midfield.
Jarvis Moss makes the final tackle of the game as Reggie Bush tries to start a series of laterals after a short pass. He pitches it to Lance Moor, and Moore is nailed by Moss and the game comes to a close.
Final score — Denver 34, New Orleans 32. The Broncos are 3-0.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com