Denver starting quarterback Jay Cutler was sacked early in the 2nd quarter and left the game with pain in his lower leg, and although an MRI the next day showed that his leg was not broken, the same could not be said of either the Broncos offense or their defense. That the Lions could rush for 130 yards was to be expected given Denver’s record as the worst team in the league against the run, but the Broncos attempt at stopping completions by Detroit quarterback John Kitna and company was more like the performance you would expect from the leagues 6th worst pass defense rather than the 6th best. Kitna completed 16 of 31 passes for 252 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions.
Yes, it’s true that Patrick Ramsey who stepped in at QB to replace the injured Cutler managed to complete 29 of 46 for 262 yards, a passing total he’s exceeded only four other times in his six year and 36 game NFL career. The problem is that none of those yards translated into points until way too late in the game. Denver’s running game was an absolute non-factor. Broncos running back Travis Henry who might have been distracted by his pending lawsuit against the NFL in an attempt to avoid a one year suspension for violation of the substance abuse policy, rushed 9 times for 31 yards, his lowest total this year. Denver’s rookie running back Selvin Young didn’t have much success either gaining only 12 yards as the Broncos finished the game with 47 yards rushing. So much for being the 11th ranked running team in the NFL.
Ramsey inherited a first quarter from Cutler that featured two drives, one of them being a 3-and-Out that went for negative yardage. The other drive started at the Lions 46 after Denver recovered an onsides kick from Detroit, covered 20 yards and ended in a missed field goal. (No, don’t ask me what idiot in the Lions organization thought that with a 3-0 lead and almost the entire game to play an onsides kick was a good idea because I don’t know). But Ramsey didn’t do a whole lot better in the second quarter; he completed just 2 of his 7 passes and fumbled the football near the Lions end zone just before halftime. Had he been just a bit more of a klutz he could have succeeded in giving Detroit a 23-0 lead going into the locker room but he managed to recover the football instead.
The third quarter actually saw a dramatic improvement in the Broncos offense, but not until after a major gaffe put them even further behind on the scoreboard. In the first of two possessions which saw them pinned against their own goal line, Denver punted after no gain. In the second, Denver tight end Daniel Graham stood without lifting a finger while Lions defensive end Corey Smith blew past him and ran unabated through the right side of the Broncos offensive line. He proceeded to sack Ramsey, who’s subsequent fumble on the one yard line was recovered by Detroit and taken in for a touchdown and a 23-0 lead.
For the remainder of the game, Denver did manage to gain some yardage. The bad news is that out of 4 possessions in the fourth quarter, 3 of them ended in turnovers. First Ramsey’s screen pass was intercepted by the Lions 340 pound defensive tackle Shaun Rogers who plodded 66 yards into the end zone for a touchdown before wobbling to the sideline for oxygen. Next, Broncos tight end Tony Scheffler caught a 6 yard pass but fumbled it at his own 34 yard line, and the Lions took it in for a TD 4 plays later. Denver did put together a touchdown drive on their next possession to make it 44-7, and then quickly pounced on a Detroit fumble deep in Lions territory. With 1st and goal on the Detroit 5 yard line, Ramsey completed a short pass to WR Brian Clark who promptly fumbled into the end zone giving the ball back to the Lions on a touchback. It might have gone the other way for another Detroit score, but the clock wound down, mercifully ending the game and this article.