Marinelli gets Lions off to fast start against Broncos

DETROIT (AP) -- Rod Marinelli remembers scurrying along the
sideline before the national anthem, making sure the Lions were
standing and holding their helmets properly.

Before Marinelli knew it, his debut as a head coach at any level
was over.

Each of the Lions' quarterbacks -- Jon Kitna, Dan Orlovsky and
Josh McCown -- led scoring drives and Detroit's defense caused three
turnovers in a 20-13 win over the Denver Broncos on Friday night

"I love to win," said Marinelli, a former defensive line coach
for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "If we're playing marbles, I'm going
to get you."

Third-string quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt drove Denver deep into
Detroit territory in the final minute, but on a fourth-and-goal at
the 9 his pass behind David Kircus was dropped.

"You couldn't have a better way to finish," Marinelli said.
"I like pressure."

Kircus, a former Lions receiver competing for a spot on Denver's
roster, had six catches for 76 yards and a score. But he only
lamented his final opportunity.

"Any time you get a chance for the ball, have it touch your
hand in the end zone on the last play of the game, it's
heartbreaking when you don't bring it in," he said.

Even though his team lost, Broncos safety John Lynch was happy
to see one of his former coaches get a chance to lead a team.

"This opportunity has been long overdue," Lynch said. "He was
a defensive line coach with the Bucs, but he was more than that to
guys on both sides of the ball. He's a special coach, and a great

The Lions led 10-0 early in the second quarter and, after losing
the lead, went back ahead 17-13 midway through the third. Artose
Pinner's 2-yard run was the go-ahead score, set up by Mike
Williams' 24-yard catch from McCown. After Denver's third turnover,
Matt Prater's field goal early in the fourth quarter gave Detroit a
20-13 lead.

Jay Cutler had a solid debut for the Broncos. The 11th pick in
the draft was 16-of-22 for 192 yards and a touchdown.

"He played well, executed the offense," Denver coach Mike
Shanahan said. "Both teams were very vanilla in their approach, so
you don't get too excited. But a guy's got to go out there and
perform and I thought he showed a lot of poise."

Both starting quarterbacks, Kitna and Denver's Jake Plummer,
played only one series and each moved the ball about 60 yards.

Kitna, signed as a free agent to replace Joey Harrington,
converted consecutive third downs with an 18-yard pass to Roy
Williams and a 10-yard run to set up Jason Hanson's 36-yard field

Plummer got the Broncos past midfield with a 16-yard pass to
Darius Watts, then Mike Bell fumbled two plays later -- less than a
week after the undrafted rookie moved past Tatum Bell and Ron Dayne
to become the No. 1 running back.

"We didn't like the fumble, but that's typical of young guys in
the NFL," Shanahan said. "It's similar to what Clinton Portis
went through as a rookie. That's why you play those guys in these

Marinelli said earlier in the week McCown would be the second
quarterback to play, but Orlovsky took snaps after the coaching
staff decided to change plans. The second-year pro made a 24-yard
pass to Corey Bradford on his first play and ended his first
possession with a good read and accurate toss to running back Arlen
Harris for a 20-yard TD and a 10-0 lead.

Cutler took advantage of a turnover by threading a pass through
a zone to Tony Scheffler for a 15-yard gain, setting up Jason
Elam's 36-yard kick. With 44 seconds left in the half, Cutler threw
three passes for 27 yards and Tatum Bell had a 15-yard run before
Elam made another field goal to make it 10-6 at halftime.

Tatum Bell finished with 26 yards on five carries and Mike Bell
had 20 yards on seven rushes.

Denver went ahead 13-10 early in the third quarter. Cutler
looked right and threw left to a wide-open Kircus.

The Lions had 16 players inactive, including five starters on
defense and two first-string linemen on offense.

Denver had seven inactives, including receivers Javon Walker
(knee) and Rod Smith (hamstring), cornerback Champ Bailey, coming
off a season slowed by shoulder and hamstring injuries, and
defensive end Courtney Brown, whose latest knee surgery was

Game notes
After an impressive training camp and one reception for 9
yards, Broncos rookie WR Brandon Marshall left the game in the
first half with a strained right knee. Shanahan said he didn't
think the injury was serious. ... Detroit TE Casey FitzSimmons, who
had moved past Marcus Pollard on the depth chart, might be out for
two weeks with an injured left wrist.