After Peyton Hillis fumbled and lost the opening kickoff, things were looking a bit bleak for the Broncos. Their defense stopped Cleveland from scoring a touchdown with a 22-yard field on the opening possession of the game, and Cleveland's 3-0 lead was short-lived.
Behind the stellar play of their revamped defense and a vastly improved offense, the Broncos easily handled and continued their historic dominance over Cleveland.
The game started off with a fumble on the opening kickoff return by Peyton Hillis that was recovered by Cleveland. Fortunately, the Broncos were able to hold the Browns to a short Phil Dawson field goal, and Denver began the game with a three-point deficit.
The Broncos followed with a drive that resulted in a nice punt by Brett Kern, pinning the Browns deep in their own territory. Cleveland quarterback Brady Quinn fumbled a snap and Darrell Reid fell on the ball at the nine-yard line, putting the Broncos in optimal scoring position.
After two unsuccessful tries by Knowshon Moreno to punch the ball in, Kyle Orton threw a perfect strike to tight end Tony Scheffler for a two-yard touchdown to put the Broncos ahead 7-3.
Cleveland answered right back with a lengthy drive that resulted in yet another Phil Dawson field goal to cut Denver's deficit to 7-6.
The Broncos then answered with a very long drive of their own that was capped off by a short Matt Prater field goal to make the score 10-6.
The score remained the same until halftime, as Prater was unable to connect on a field goal for the Broncos just seconds before both teams headed to the locker room.
On the opening drive of the second half, Brady Quinn hit Josh Cribbs on a short out route and he was blindsided by Elvis Dumervil, who forced a fumble that was recovered by Brian Dawkins, setting the Broncos up with great field position.
Denver had to settle for a field goal once more, extending the lead to a touchdown at 13-6.
The score stayed the same until the fourth quarter when the Broncos got two big scores by Peyton Hillis and Correll Buckhalter and those two touchdowns provided the final score of 27-6.
This was the most complete game from a Broncos team that I have seen in a long time. Aside from the field-goal kicking blunders, this team played an excellent game overall.
Dumervil really stood out on Denver's defense today when he finished the game with four sacks and a forced fumble. He has really stepped up in his new role as a rush linebacker in the Broncos' 3-4 defensive scheme.
The Broncos' offense improved greatly from their poor week one performance, more than doubling their first downs and total yardage. In all, the Broncos had 25 first downs and 449 yards of total offense.
After somewhat of a slow start to the day, the offense really got going for the Broncos in the second half, and was led by the running game and smart decision making by Kyle Orton.
The Broncos' running backs totaled 186 yards on the ground, 75 from Knowshon Moreno and 76 from Correll Buckhalter including a 45-yard scamper that put the Broncos ahead for good.
Denver's defense continued its dominant play from the first game against Cincinnati and had four sacks, three turnovers forced, and they held the Cleveland offense to only 11 first downs the entire game.
The Browns were also only able to make one red zone appearance, and the only reason they were able to get inside the Broncos' 20 was because they recovered a fumble at the 22-yard line.
I am consistently impressed with the Broncos' run defense, which has significantly improved from the 2008 unit.
Denver was able to bottle up Jamal Lewis and hold him to 2.5 yards per carry after holding Cedric Benson (who had 140 yards against GB) to only 3.6 yards per carry in the previous week.
The pass defense has also stepped up, and today they made Brady Quinn and the Browns' passing offense non-existent in a sense.
Andra Davis had a big day today against his former team, leading the Broncos with 10 total tackles.
The Broncos have allowed only 13 points in two games, and are about to face an anemic Oakland offense in week three.
The Broncos bottled up Josh Cribbs and he had almost no impact on the game at all. He returned a couple of kicks and was taken down almost immediately, and did virtually nothing in the punt return game.
It was also surprising that the Browns did not operate out of the wildcat even once in this game, but that could also be due to the fact that the Broncos were playing stellar run defense.
Other Random Thoughts
I wrote in my preview that the Broncos needed to be able to run the ball effectively and control the game clock to win this game, and they did exactly that.
As a team, they rushed for nearly 190 yards and two touchdowns, and that really set up the passing game.
While Kyle Orton was not staggering, he was solid and did not make any mistakes. He even looked elusive at times and made smart choices under pressure despite the fact that his completion percentage suffered because of it.
The Broncos have not gotten Peyton Hillis as involved as I anticipated before the season started, but he did have a touchdown today which was promising.
Denver has a lot of momentum right now. They are playing inspired on defense, and the offense is finally picking it up. When the Broncos are able to get Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal fully involved in the offense, they could be very dangerous.
Next week, the Broncos will travel to Oakland for their first divisional contest of the season after sweeping the state of Ohio and taking an early 2-0 lead on the AFC North division.