Broncos snap Jets 5-game streak

November 30, 2008 4:57:03 PM PST
Jay Cutler and the Denver Broncos stopped the surging New York Jets, and showed they might also be a team to reckon with in the wide-open AFC. Cutler passed for 357 yards and two touchdowns and rookie Peyton Hillis ran for 129 yards and a score in the Broncos' 34-17 victory over the Jets at a wet and windy Meadowlands on Sunday.

The Broncos (7-5) washed away the sting of a 31-10 loss to Oakland at home last weekend by stopping the Jets' five-game winning streak. Denver leads the AFC West by three games with four weeks left.

It was a disappointing loss for New York (8-4), which was coming off emotional victories at New England and Tennessee and was making a claim as the conference's top team.

Cutler finished 27-of-43, and Hillis became the first to rush for 100 or more yards against the Jets' third-ranked run defense.

Brandon Stokley and Eddie Royal each had touchdown catches, and tight ends Tony Scheffler and Daniel Graham combined for 13 catches and 149 yards.

Thomas Jones had 138 yards rushing and two touchdowns for New York, but Brett Favre struggled in the sloppy conditions. He finished 23-of-43 for 247 yards and an interception.

The Jets are still a game ahead of both New England and Miami in the AFC East.

Broncos safety Vernon Fox gave the Broncos an early lead when he returned a fumble 23 yards for a touchdown on a controversial play midway through the opening period that set the tone for the game.

Wide receiver Brad Smith took a direct snap and tried to hand off to Jerricho Cotchery, but the ball squirted away. Cotchery jumped on top of the bouncing ball and was immediately hit by Fox.

The ball then came loose and Fox picked it up and returned it for a touchdown.

Jets coach Eric Mangini threw out the red challenge flag, but the officials ruled Cotchery had never gained possession so it was still a fumble, and not a reviewable play.

Jones tied it with a 59-yard touchdown run on the opening play of New York's next possession. Jones went up the middle, broke right and took off untouched down the sideline for the longest run in his career.

Denver came right back four plays later when Royal, showing no signs of the toe injury that limited him in practice, scored on a 59-yard touchdown pass with 6:44 left. Mangini challenged the play, thinking Royal stepped out of bounds, but the call was upheld after a short review.

Matt Prater's 25-yard field goal made it 17-7 with 1:44 remaining in the opening quarter.

Jones scored his second touchdown on an athletic, heads-up play.

On first-and-10 from Denver's 29, Jones took the handoff and went down near the line of scrimmage, but his body rolled over the Broncos' Kenny Peterson without touching the ground. Jones bounced up off the defender's back and zipped into the end zone, scoring a 29-yard touchdown - with many of the Broncos standing around, thinking the play was dead. After a review to check to see if Jones' left elbow touched the turf, officials upheld the original call.

Denver took advantage of Dre' Bly's interception of Favre as Hillis scored on a 1-yard run to cap a seven-play drive that made it 24-14 late in the first half.

Prater's 35-yard field goal with 3 seconds remaining before halftime made it 27-14.

Dwight Lowery's first NFL interception helped the Jets close within 10 as Jay Feely kicked a 30-yard field goal with 2:50 left in the third quarter. The Broncos had players injured - Spencer Larson, Ebenezer Ekuban and Bly - on consecutive catch-and-runs by Leon Washington on the drive.

Stokley's 36-yard touchdown reception with 9:26 left sealed the victory for the Broncos.