Denver defense leads Broncos past Browns 27-6
DENVER – The Denver Broncos didn’t need a miracle finish to beat the Cleveland Browns – just a strong defense that has gone from deplorable to dominant.
Pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil tied a franchise record with four sacks and linebacker Andra Davis had 10 tackles against his old team in leading Denver to a 27-6 win Sunday.
The Broncos, who beat Cincinnati last week on Brandon Stokley’s 87-yard touchdown catch with 11 seconds left, are 2-0 under new coach Josh McDaniels, who worked with Browns coach Eric Mangini in New England.
Mangini’s new team is 0-2.
Denver quarterback Kyle Orton was having another ordinary day until he hit Jabar Gaffney with a 49-yard pass that led to Peyton Hillis’ 2-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. That broke open a 13-6 game and atoned for Hillis’ lost fumble on the opening kickoff.
Running back Correll Buckhalter then broke free for a 45-yard touchdown rumble that made it 27-6. He finished with 76 yards on nine carries, an 8.4-yard average.
Orton completed 19 of 37 passes for 263 yards and a touchdown.
Brady Quinn was 18-of-31 for 161 yards and an interception on his final toss.
Before the Broncos’ offense picked up steam, the crowd booed Orton for some badly thrown passes on a windy day at Invesco Field and jeered kicker Matt Prater, who missed from 37 and 39 yards but was good from 23 and 38.
The defense was the only unit that wasn’t erratic. In two games, the Broncos have allowed just one touchdown.
Providing the early spark Sunday was Davis, who had eagerly awaited facing the team that let him go after seven seasons without so much as a goodbye from its new coach.
When the Browns didn’t make him an offer, Davis signed a two-year deal with the Broncos, who spent the offseason revamping a deplorable defense that ranked at or near the bottom in every major category last year and surrendered 448 points.
A perfect fit in the 3-4 scheme employed by McDaniels, Davis recorded seven solo tackles and two assists in the first half.
The Broncos led 10-6 at halftime, when former tight end Shannon Sharpe, who skydived into the stadium as part of a tandem parachute jump, was tearfully inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor.
Both teams had takeaways that led to short scoring drives in the first half.
Cleveland’s Blake Costanzo recovered Hillis’ fumble on the opening kickoff, and Phil Dawson kicked a 22-yard field goal to give the Browns a quick 3-0 lead.
Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall was on the sideline in a baseball cap for much of the first half. He returned to the field after halftime when Eddie Royal stayed inside until midway through the third quarter. No explanation was given for Royal’s absence.
Marshall finished with three catches for 34 yards and committed a crucial holding penalty that whittled a 41-yard catch-and-run by Buckhalter in the second half.
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