NFL: Broncos 34, Browns 30
CLEVELAND ó Jay Cutler turned Brady Quinn’s big night into his own prime-time showcase.
Cutler passed for a career-high 447 yards, throwing three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter Thursday night ó the last an 11-yarder to Brandon Marshall with 1:14 remaining ó to rally the broken Denver Broncos to a 34-30 win over the Cleveland Browns that spoiled Quinn’s highly hyped debut as an NFL starter.
The Broncos (5-4) entered the fourth quarter trailing 23-13, but Cutler, borrowing a page out of John Elway’s comeback playbook, brought Denver back. He recorded his fifth career fourth-quarter comeback victory despite losing two more running backs to injuries and only having his fullback to carry the ball.
Cutler threw a 93-yard TD pass to rookie wide receiver Eddie Royal, a 28-yarder to tight end Daniel Graham and then finished off the Browns like so many Denver teams have done in the past with his toss to Marshall in the corner of the end zone.
The Broncos have beaten Cleveland eight straight times and been the Browns’ longtime nemesis, beating them three times in AFC title games.
Cutler finished 24-of-42 with three TDs and one interception. He piled up 204 yards passing in the fourth quarter.
Quinn threw two TD passes to Kellen Winslow and went 23-of-35 for 239 yards.
After hauling in Cutler’s TD pass, Marshall, who spent the week exchanging barbs with Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter, was about to pull something out of his pants when teammate Brandon Stokley ran over and stopped him from getting a possible personal foul.
After the game, Marshall said he had a black-and-white glove designed to honor President-elect Barack Obama.
Quinn had one last chance, getting the ball back with 1:10 remaining. The former Notre Dame star, who waited 25 games to take over Cleveland’s offense, completed a 9-yard pass to Winslow on first down before two incompletions gave him no margin for error. On fourth down, Quinn whipped a high pass to Winslow that sailed through the hands of the Pro Bowl tight end.
Denver’s bench burst into celebration while the Browns sustained another gut-wrenching loss after blowing a 14-point lead in the second half Sunday against Baltimore.
That loss cost Derek Anderson his starting job. He was benched by coach Romeo Crennel in favor of fan favorite Quinn, who made plays and was efficient moving the ball by throwing mostly underneath. Quinn completed passes to eight different receivers with Winslow catching 10 passes for 111 yards.
Quinn had the Browns (3-6) in position to win, but once again Cleveland’s defense couldn’t come up with a stop as Denver racked up 564 total yards.
Royal had six catches for 164 yards and Marshall caught six passes for 89 yards.