Denver Broncos

One-Upped: Kyle Orton "Out-Bradys" Tom Brady

DENVER - OCTOBER 11:  Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos passes against the New England Patriots during an NFL game at Invesco Field at Mile High on October 11, 2009 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Kris BurkeCorrespondent IOctober 12, 2009

So you say Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton is a "game manager," eh?

Take a look at these statistics from Sundays 20-17 overtime win over the New England Patriots: 35-of-48, 330 yards and two touchdowns. I don't hold his one interception against him because it was a desperation heave at the end of the first half.

If Orton is a "game manager," then so is Brett Favre, Drew Brees, John Elway and, oh yeah, Tom Brady.

For one game at least, Orton played Brady-style football better than Brady himself.  Orton led a remarkable 98-yard drive late in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 17 after the Broncos trailed 17-7 at halftime.

New England got the ball back with two minutes remaining in regulation. Many thought it was going to be another Brady comeback because he has become so masterful at bringing his team back late when the game is on the line.

Not this time. 

First, the Broncos defense stopped the Patriots on crucial third downs late in the game. 

Second, and more surprising, Brady was off target. 

Late in the fourth quarter, he bounced what would have been a sure touchdown pass off the hip of receiver Wes Welker. It was the kind of pass Brady never misses.

Today, he did. And Orton didn't.

After winning the coin toss at the start of overtime, Orton led the Broncos on a steady drive, resulting in Matt Prater's game-winning 41-yard field goal.

Orton did it. He pulled a "Tom Brady" against the Patriots in a game not many people expected the Broncos to win. This time, Orton was the superstar and Brady looked like the sixth-round draft pick that he was back in 2000.  

I am not saying Orton is better than Brady. Brady has three rings to Orton's zero and, in the big picture, this game will do little to nothing to tarnish Brady's image as a master of the fourth quarter comeback. What it does show is that he is beatable if you game-plan properly.

However, it does do a lot for Orton. 

People now see what the man can do with quality receivers and a head coach that believes in him. Josh McDaniels took the leash off Orton and let him run wild, attempting an astonishing 48 passes. 

People have been saying since his arrival that the Broncos would win in spite of Orton, not because of him. Well, Orton proved them wrong and, in turn, has added a whole other dimension to the Broncos' offense. 

Expected to be a dink-and-dunk team under McDaniels, Orton's solid play along with the re-emergence of Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal and complementary play of Jabbar Gaffney and Brandon Stokely have made the Broncos a suddenly potent passing squad.

Combine that with a continually impressive defense, a 5-0 start and a head coach that helped gel the most explosive offense in NFL history in 2007, and the Broncos are now one of the teams no one in the NFL wants to face.

Heck, this team has even made the most hardcore McDaniels opponents forget about ol' "what's his name," you know, the dude that was traded to Chicago?

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