Broncos
Falcons
24 - 20 Final
  for this game

Broncos hand Falcons first home loss

Nov 16, 2008 - 11:01 PM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Injured and playing with a bunch of players out of position, not many gave the Denver Broncos a chance. But Jay Cutler and Peyton Hillis showed that the game of football is won on the field.

Cutler completed 19-of-27 passes for 216 yards and the game-winning score and Hillis rumbled for 44 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Broncos to a 24-20 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Daniel Graham found the end zone on a broken play in the fourth quarter and Brandon Marshall caught six passes for 89 yards for the Broncos (6-4), who won for just the second time in five games.

"Nobody gave us a chance," said Denver cornerback Dre Bly, who had a key interception in the game. "I was watching 'Inside the NFL' and they're all picking Atlanta to beat us.

"We just proved the world wrong. We have capable guys on this team. They prepared and worked hard, and with hard work, anything's possible."

Michael Turner rushed for 81 yards and two touchdowns and rookie quarterback Matt Ryan completed 20-of-33 passes for 250 yards with one interception for the Falcons (6-4), who lost for the first time at home this season.

"It was a tough game out there today," Atlanta coach Mike Smith said. "We faced a really good out-of-conference opponent. They won the football game. They were the better team."

Denver limped into Atlanta besieged by the injury bug and was forced to play without starting cornerback Champ Bailey, linebacker D.J. Williams, free safety Marlon McCree and running back Selvin Young.

Installed as nearly seven-point underdogs against the upstart Falcons, the banged-up Broncos were forced to make a bevy of unorthodox moves, moving Hillis from fullback to halfback and pressing rookie Spencer Larsen into a rare start at both the fullback and linebacker positions.

Coach Mike Shanahan's move in starting Larsen at two positions made history. Larsen became the first player to start on offense and defense in the same game since 2003.

His other coaching moves also paid dividends -- with the help of a little motivation from the naysayers in the media.

"All the media, including USA Today, all said we didn't have a prayer," defensive end Elvis Dumervil said. "But you know, coach Shanahan is a great coach and he rallied us all. We've got a lot of guys out, but we didn't make any excuses."

Cutler marched the Broncos down the field with a 10-play, 83-yard game-winning drive midway through the fourth quarter. The prolific quarterback kept the drive alive by finding wideout Marshall deep down the left sideline for a 47-yard completion to bring the ball down to the Falcons 33 yard line.

"It was a big play for our ballclub," Marshall said. "Jay threw it up and I caught it."

Seven plays later, Cutler dumped off a short pass to tight end Graham, who rumbled 9 yards for the go-ahead score with 5:42 remaining.

"The guys did a great job of stepping in there and making plays for us," Cutler said. "The run game took a lot of pressure off of us in the passing game and allowed us to get things going. Guys made a lot of plays today."

Ryan marched the Falcons back down the field, getting all the way to the Broncos 37-yard line. But the drive sputtered after right guard Tyson Clabo was whistled for a costly holding penalty.

The rookie No. 3 pick almost engineered the improbable comeback, finding Roddy White wide open in the end zone. The crowd started to cheer as it appeared that Atlanta receiver would catch the ball.

But it was not to be. The ball rattled off of White's hands and fell onto the turf. Ryan's final pass sailed over the head of wide receiver Michael Jenkins on 4th-and-20, ending Atlanta's home winning streak.

"I have to go out there and make those plays," White said. "I feel responsible for the loss today. I had an opportunity and I didn't take advantage of it."

On a day when the Falcons honored the 1998 NFC championship team, which ironically dropped a 34-19 decision in Super Bowl XXXIII to the Broncos, Atlanta lost, once again, to Denver.

Perhaps they picked the wrong game for a celebration.

"This game was tough to swallow," Falcons wide receiver Brian Finneran said. "I haven't felt like this in a while. It's tough to come back and fight as hard as we did and not come out with a win."

Hillis opened the scoring with a 7-yard touchdown scamper to stake Denver to a 7-0 lead with 9:31 remaining in the first quarter on the Broncos' first offensive possession.

But Atlanta drew to within one on two field goals by former Denver kicker Jason Elam before Atlanta took a 13-7 lead into the break on a 9-yard scamper down the middle by Turner.

Denver regained the lead on Hillis' second score of the game, a 2-yard run with 10:04 remaining in the third quarter before Ryan finally made a mistake at home.

Rattled by a Denver blitz, the rookie quarterback threw his first interception in 105 passes at the Georgia Dome, which cornerback Dre Bly easily picked off at the Denver 33.

Eight plays later, Matt Prater connected on a 20-yard field goal to give the Broncos a 17-13 lead.

But Ryan drove his club back down the field, keeping the drive alive with two third-down completions to wideout Brian Finneran before Tuner scampered 28 yards down the middle of the field to give his club a 20-13 lead with 10:49 remaining in the fourth quarter.






  • 124
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    Sweetness34 Added 5 roots

    Broncos 24, Falcons 20  FinalNov 16 8:06 PM


  • NFL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    DENVER 7 0 7 10 24
    ATLANTA 3 10 0 7 20 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: DEN - TD, PEYTON HILLIS 7 YD RUN (MATT PRATER
    KICK), 5:34. Drive: 10 plays, 55
    yards in 4:34. Key plays: Cutler
    12-yard pass to Stokley on
    3rd-and-9 to Atlanta 42; Cutler
    10-yard pass to Sto

    Nov 16 3:57 PM
  • 119
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    senorpepr Added 5 roots

    Broncos 24, Falcons 20  4th - 2:00Nov 16 3:46 PM
  • 114
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    RUWTbot Added 37 roots (Close Finish)

    Broncos 24, Falcons 20  4th - 2:00Nov 16 3:42 PM


  • NFL
    TD DEN
    DANIEL GRAHAM 9 YD PASS FROM JAY CUTLER
    (MATT PRATER KICK)
    DENVER 24
    ATLANTA 20 5:35 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Broncos 24, Falcons 20  4th - 5:35Nov 16 3:35 PM
  • 77
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 24 roots (Close Finish)

    Broncos 24, Falcons 20  4th - 5:35Nov 16 3:35 PM
  • 53
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    RUWTbot Added 33 roots (Close Finish)

    Broncos 17, Falcons 20  4th - 6:04Nov 16 3:33 PM


  • NFL
    TD ATL
    MICHAEL TURNER 28 YD RUN
    (JASON ELAM KICK)
    DENVER 17
    ATLANTA 20 10:41 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Broncos 17, Falcons 20  4th - 10:41Nov 16 3:24 PM
  • 20
    roots
    RUWTbot Took away 28 roots

    Broncos 17, Falcons 20  4th - 10:41Nov 16 3:24 PM


  • NFL
    FG DEN
    MATT PRATER 20 YD
    DENVER 17
    ATLANTA 13 14:56 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Broncos 17, Falcons 13  4th - 14:56Nov 16 3:10 PM


  • NFL
    END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    DENVER 7 0 7 14
    ATLANTA 3 10 0 13 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: DEN - TD, PEYTON HILLIS 7 YD RUN (MATT PRATER
    KICK), 5:34. Drive: 10 plays, 55
    yards in 4:34. Key plays: Cutler
    12-yard pass to Stokley on
    3rd-and-9 to Atlanta 42; Cutler
    10-yard pass

    Nov 16 3:05 PM


  • NFL
    TD DEN
    PEYTON HILLIS 2 YD RUN
    (MATT PRATER KICK)
    DENVER 14
    ATLANTA 13 9:59 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Broncos 14, Falcons 13  3rd - 9:59Nov 16 2:46 PM
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    Broncos 14, Falcons 13  3rd - 9:59Nov 16 2:46 PM


  • NFL
    HALFTIME 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    DENVER 7 0 7
    ATLANTA 3 10 13 HALFTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: DEN - TD, PEYTON HILLIS 7 YD RUN (MATT PRATER
    KICK), 5:34. Drive: 10 plays, 55
    yards in 4:34. Key plays: Cutler
    12-yard pass to Stokley on
    3rd-and-9 to Atlanta 42; Cutler
    10-yard pass to

    Nov 16 2:24 PM


  • NFL
    TD ATL
    MICHAEL TURNER 9 YD RUN
    (JASON ELAM KICK)
    DENVER 7
    ATLANTA 13 7:34 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Broncos 7, Falcons 13  2nd - 7:34Nov 16 2:03 PM


  • CORRECTION
    NFL TD ATL
    MICHAEL TURNER 9 YD RUN
    (JASON ELAM KICK)
    DENVER 7
    ATLANTA 7 7:34 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Broncos 7, Falcons 7  2nd - 7:34Nov 16 2:03 PM


  • NFL
    DENVER 7
    ATLANTA 13 7:34 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Broncos 7, Falcons 13  2nd - 7:34Nov 16 2:00 PM


  • NFL
    TD ATL
    MICHAEL TURNER 9 YD RUN
    (JASON ELAM KICK)
    DENVER 0
    ATLANTA 13 7:34 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Broncos 0, Falcons 13  2nd - 7:34Nov 16 1:59 PM


  • NFL
    TD ATL
    MICHAEL TURNER 9 YD RUN
    (JASON ELAM KICK)
    DENVER 7
    ATLANTA 13 7:34 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Broncos 7, Falcons 13  2nd - 7:34Nov 16 1:59 PM


  • NFL
    FG ATL
    JASON ELAM 36 YD
    DENVER 7
    ATLANTA 6 12:33 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Broncos 7, Falcons 6  1st - 12:33Nov 16 1:46 PM


  • NFL
    END, 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    DENVER 7 7
    ATLANTA 3 3 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: DEN - TD, PEYTON HILLIS 7 YD RUN (MATT PRATER
    KICK), 5:34. Drive: 10 plays, 55
    yards in 4:34. Key plays: Cutler
    12-yard pass to Stokley on
    3rd-and-9 to Atlanta 42; Cutler
    10-yard pass

    Nov 16 1:36 PM


  • NFL
    FG ATL
    JASON ELAM 46 YD
    DENVER 7
    ATLANTA 3 2:26 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Broncos 7, Falcons 3  1st - 2:26Nov 16 1:27 PM


  • NFL
    TD DEN
    PEYTON HILLIS 6 YD RUN
    (MATT PRATER KICK)
    DENVER 7
    ATLANTA 0 9:26 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Broncos 7, Falcons 0  1st - 9:26Nov 16 1:14 PM
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