6:25 P.M. MDT: Easily the most electric pre-game atmosphere of the season was evident as I walked around the field earlier this hour during warmups. But just like last week, there are plenty of interlopers for the visitors; Packer Nation has infiltrated Broncos Country.
6:26 P.M. MDT: The national anthem comes 14 minutes before kickoff, performed by the horn section from the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Lovely, and easy for most of us with slim vocal ranges to join along in song.
6:29 P.M. MDT: Looks like most of ESPN’s “experts” have the Packers. Well, it turns out to be a four-to-three margin, with Tom Jackson, Steve Young and Stuart Scott casting their votes for Denver.
6:30 P.M. MDT: Cue Hank Williams, Jr. At least that hasn’t changed, although who needs all these guest artists? Just give me Bocephus.
6:33 P.M. MDT: Tony Kornheiser is in mid-paean to Brett Favre. Well, it’s better than him going on the air and implying that Denver was 300 miles from nowhere like he did last year.
6:37 P.M. MDT: Global warming? Twenty-three years ago, these teams met in Denver for Monday Night Football on Oct. 15 and it was 29 degrees with snow. Tonight, it’s a pleasant 63 degrees as kickoff approaches.
6:40 P.M. MDT: Andre Hall touches the football for the first time as a pro, and returns the kickoff to the 18-yard-line, but a personal foul against Paul Smith pushes the Broncos back to their 9-yard-line to begin the drive.
6:42 P.M. MDT: Nice job by Jay Cutler to work out of trouble in the backfield, but Chad Mustard has got to catch that pass … instead of a first down, the Broncos have second-and-10. On the next play, he turns to Daniel Graham, and his surer hands have the Broncos at their 21.
6:43 P.M. MDT: Selvin Young gets his first carry of the night on the game’s third play, picking up three to the left side. Broncos going with multiple-tight end sets so far instead of using the fullback.
6:44 P.M. MDT: Lots of rolling out … Broncos continue it again as Cutler goes left for the first time, and then lasers a shot to Tony Scheffler for 11 … Mike Leach seeing some rare work at tight end as the Broncos have first-and-10 at their 43. Every Broncos tight end on the 53-man roster has already seen action.
6:46 P.M. MDT: Third-and-three … and Cutler is too high for Glenn Martinez, who was tightly covered by Jarrett Bush. Todd Sauerbrun’s punt hits at the 7-yard-line and bounces quickly into the end zone. Gross of 50 yards; net of 30.
6:49 P.M. MDT: Crowd getting some stomping going during the pause … Flashbulbs popping all over the place … Champ Bailey in coverage on Donald Driver on the game’s first play, but lays off; Driver dives forward for four on the flanker screen.
6:50 P.M. MDT: Greg Jennings was open in front of Dre’ Bly, but dropped the pass from Brett Favre … third-and-a-long 6, and the crowd is roaring … Outstanding open-field tackle by Champ Bailey on Ryan Grant, and the Pack goes three-and-out.
6:52 P.M. MDT: The Broncos might just have found their punt returner … nice job by Glenn Martinez to weave his way up a narrow path near the left sideline for 26 yards following Jon Ryan’s 61-yard stratosphere-scraper. Denver takes over at its 40 5:44 into the game.
6:54 P.M. MDT: ESPN yaks about Barrelman … Broncos have second-and-8 … Tony Scheffler starting to split wide … Broncos now work Cecil Sapp into the game … Daniel Graham already has two catches, both for first downs.
6:56 P.M. MDT: Andre Hall makes the first carry of his pro career, gaining a yard to the left side.
6:58 P.M. MDT: Cutler tries to optmistically thread a needle to Brandon Marshall amdist a thicket of canary-yellow helmets … nearly intercepted. That puts the Broncos in third-and nine … and Cutler perfectly drops a cross-field pass to Brandon Stokley, who then absorbs an asteroid of a shot from Atari Bigby. A quartet of flags flood the field, and the Broncos have first-and-goal.
6:59 P.M. MDT: Second-and-goal from the 3, and Selvin Young loses 2 yards as a gross of Packers are on hand as he receives the handoff …
7:00 P.M. MDT: The Atari is broken, evidently; he just grabbed Daniel Graham in the end zone, and the Broncos reboot their goal-line machine at the 1 … and go back to the 5 after Young loses yardage again …
7:02 P.M. MDT: Success … Cutler to Tony Scheffler, touchdown. Cutler is using the rollout frequently and with great effectiveness tonight … and what the heck was Scheffler doing to celebrate that score? Looked like he was doing the breaststroke or something. 7-nil, Broncos.
7:05 P.M. MDT: Tramon Williams bounces off Broncos cover men on the ensuing kickoff return like the ball in Breakout … Packers will start at their 21.
7:07 P.M. MDT: That didn’t last long … Brett Favre finds James Jones, who had gotten one step past Champ Bailey … Bailey dove for the football but couldn’t grab it … Jones cut across the field, eluded Nick Ferguson, James Jones and a falling official — who remains down on the ground — and finished the 79-yard touchdown.
7:08 P.M. MDT: Delay on the field as Jim Howey, the injured official, is treated … 7-6, PAT pending.
7:10 P.M. MDT: A “Go Pack Go” chant filters through the crowd but is quickly booed down … 7-7 after Mason Crosby drills the extra point.
7:14 P.M. MDT: Broncos at midfield after a Packers personal-foul penalty … Green Bay tackes a holding penalty on the next play.
7:14 P.M. MDT: The official injured on the play — back judge Jim Howey — has a strained hamstring and will not return.
7:15 P.M. MDT: The Cutler-to-Stokley connection works again near the left sideline. Broncos at the Pack 31.
7:17 P.M. MDT Chris Kuper might have lost a first-team job after a bad day in practice, but he is a MAN at game time. A terrific block on a screen to Selvin Young allowed the Broncos to move into goal-to-go range.
7:19 P.M. MDT: And an extraordinarily entertaining first quarter has concluded. More in the second-quarter blog.