|Denver's Glenn Martinez takes off on an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown. (Jack Dempsey/Associated Press)|
DENVER - Eighty yards here, 62 there, another 48 somewhere else. Next thing they knew, the Denver Broncos found themselves in a spot they only could have dreamed of a few weeks ago - tied for first place in the AFC West.
Jay Cutler threw touchdown passes of 41 and 48 yards and little-known Glenn Martinez and Andre Hall added to Denver's slew of big scoring plays last night in a 34-20 victory over the Tennessee Titans.
"It's been a long season, up and down, a little panic in Denver," Cutler said. "But we pulled it together. That's two big wins the last two weeks."
Vince Young threw for a career high - 308 yards - for the second straight week, but this one also resulted in a lopsided loss for the Titans (6-4), who played catchup against Denver the same way they did in a 28-13 loss to Jacksonville last week.
Martinez, a second-year receiver signed off the practice squad in September, returned a punt 80 yards to give Denver a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
Hall, a first-year player with eight carries this season, turned his ninth into a 62-yard score to help the Broncos regain control of the game after they had watched a 17-point lead slip to 7.
Hall was in after Selvin Young, who started in place of Travis Henry, went out because of a knee injury.
"He was our last tailback and Andre took advantage of his opportunity," coach Mike Shanahan said.
The Broncos improved to 5-5, good enough to tie San Diego for the lead in the woeful West.
Suddenly, the Broncos, who have 44-7 and 41-3 losses on their wildly disparate scorecard this year, are playing like contenders. They piled up 359 yards against the Titans, who were missing Albert Haynesworth on the defensive line but nonetheless came in with the second-ranked defense in the league.
"This was disgusting," Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan said. "The worst tackling game yet."