Brett Favre passed as though it was raining hard all day. Jay Cutler passed as though he were tearing up the neighborhood in the park across the street from his childhood home in Santa Claus, Ind.
A rookie? Strike one. A fullback? Strike two. A seventh-round draft pick? Strike three. Yer out. A rookie fullback drafted in the seventh round isn't supposed to play tailback in the NFL. Peyton Hillis, who has all those credentials, not only has been playing tailback for the Broncos, he rushed for 129 yards Sunday in a 34-17 victory against imposing run-stuffer Kris Jenkins and the New York Jets.
As the Broncos' 34-17 victory against the New York Jets wound down on a cold, rainy night in New Jersey, Jets quarterback Brett Favre still was firing.
Denver's defense had waited weeks for a spark. A sack, a fumble recovery, an interception — anything to ignite a group so desperately desiring a big play.
The Broncos had forced 10 turnovers before arriving at the Meadowlands. Just to put that number in perspective, the Jets forced seven against the Cardinals on Sept. 28 in the very same stadium. So what happens? The Bronx win the turnover battle 2-1. .
Gunslinger is a profession best left to the young. Old, gray and put away wet, New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre got shot down by Jay Cutler and the Broncos on a rainy November evening so raw it felt like winter shoving aside autumn.
The Broncos, the Cardinals, the Giants and the Titans are ahead in each of their divisions by three games with four left. The Broncos could clinch a division title as soon as the powerful Giants and Titans — and FedEx their game to San Diego.
Away from their wives and children, freed from car payments and mortgages, removed from the comforts of their own beds, the Broncos excel.
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The weather conditions were perfect, as far as Jay Cutler was concerned. Appearing hardly bothered by the steady rain and wind that whipped through the Meadowlands, Cutler threw for 357 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Denver Broncos to a 34-17 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.
Are the Broncos going to blow it? The thought swirled through my head -- and probably yours too -- at the end of the third quarter, with Denver gripping a slippery 27-17 lead over the New York Jets.
A week ago, the Jets beat the Titans, the team with the best record in football. A week later, the Broncos beat the Jets, suggesting the Broncos can be as good as anybody in the NFL.
Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler executed a sound game plan to perfection, mixing screens to Eddie Royal with passes to his tight ends before finishing with 27 completions in 43 attempts for 357 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Peyton Hillis continued to impress, turning in the first 100-yard game of his career by gaining 129 yards on 22 carries.
The presence and, even more striking, absence of the instant- replay booth proved significant Sunday. Three of the first four touchdowns in the Broncos' 34-17 win over the New York Jets were influenced by close calls.
When Jay Cutler was a young boy growing up in Lincoln City, Ind., his idol was Brett Favre. On Sunday, Cutler outdueled his idol in a steady downpour at Giants Stadium, leading the Broncos to a seemingly easy 34-17 win against Favre and the AFC East- leading New York Jets.
Doug Hillis turned 44 Saturday, so his son, Peyton, called his family home in Conway, Ark., to give his father a birthday greeting. "I asked my dad what he wanted for his birthday and he said, 'I want 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns,' " said Hillis, the Broncos' rookie fullback.
The team the Broncos faced Sunday at Giants Stadium was the hottest in the AFC, if not the NFL. In one three-play stretch, three Broncos defenders - defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban, middle linebacker Spencer Larsen and cornerback Dre Bly - were hurt, adding to an already long list entering the game.
Say what you want about the Broncos' defense, but coach Mike Shanahan deserves a lot of credit for essentially clinching the AFC West. Sunday's victory over the Jets may not have been pretty, but the Broncos now have a three-game lead in the division and can clinch a playoff spot in the next two weeks.
Mark the Denver Broncos down as one of the most confusing teams in the NFL.
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