Anybody who was in attendance or watched the Broncos’ 39-38 win over San Diego is not likely to ever forget this one for quite some time.
This was an instant classic, without question one of the greatest and most entertaining home games ever played in the 49 years of Denver Broncos history.
Much has been made of the incomplete pass call by referee Ed Hochuli which led to a subsequent review and ultimately gave the Broncos the ball at the San Diego 10 on that final Denver drive.
But the Broncos still had no better than a third and 10, and Denver btoh scored and then added the two-point conversion in a dramatic decision by Head Coach Mike Shanahan.
But regardless, the call was really just one element of a thoroughly spectacular game that was a coming out party for the Broncos’ young offensive unit.
With left tackle Ryan Clady (rookie) and right tackle Ryan Harris (second-year player) anchoring an excellent line, third year men Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall put on an offensive show seldom seen by Broncos fans, and these fans have seen a lot.
Cutler completed 36 of 50 passes for a whopping 350 yards for four touchdowns in the game.
Those 36 completions tie Cutler for the most in team history, and the 350 yards marked his second consecutive 300-yard game, making him the only passer in the league to begin the year with two 300-yard contests. That yardage total also ranks as the ninth best in Bronco history.
The four TD strikes are the most by any NFL quarterback in a single game this year and tie Cutler’s career best–he had three in the first half alone, the most first half TD passes by an AFC QB this year.
The Vanderbilt sensation completed 72 percent against the Chargers, second best single game mark in the AFC this year, and with a 109.6 passer rating to his credit Cutler now has registered a passer rating of at least 100.0 in three straight games (going back to last year).
Cutler completed the game-winning two-point conversion to rookie Eddie Royal with 24 second to play, making Denver just the third team in NFL history to win a game in that fashion.
Royal also caught the TD pass from Cutler that set up the two-point heroics and finished the day with five receptions.
Not to be outdone by the rookie wide receiver, another third-year player, tight end Tony Scheffler had six receptions for 64 yards and two scores.
And yet, all of this seems to pale compared to what wide receiver Brandon Marshall did.
Marshall caught 18 passes for 166 yards with one score, and his 18 receptions tie for the second highest single game total in NFL history, smashing Rod Smith’s club record of 14 in a single game.
Dating back to last year, Marshall has posted at least 10 catches along with 100 receiving yards in four of his last five games–55 receptions for 577 yards with four touchdowns–amassing the highest number of catches in a five game period in NFL history.
It’s no wonder all of Denver is somewhere between giddy and euphoric today.
It’s one game at a time, but the future looks bright and the sunsets orange in Denver again.