Broncos' stifling defense fuels victory over Browns

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Kenard Lang knotted his striped tie, buttoned
his jacket and fastened the latch on his suitcase.

Moments earlier, Denver's defensive lineman zipped his mouth
shut and warned his Broncos teammates to do the same.

The scoreboard said it all for them.

Denver's stingy defense held its fifth straight opponent to
single digits and quarterback Jake Plummer did just enough to keep
the Broncos' offense moving in a 17-7 win over the Cleveland Browns
on Sunday.

The Broncos (5-1), who have given up an NFL-low 44 points, came
within 12 minutes of their first road shutout in 14 years when
Plummer's interception led to a short Cleveland touchdown pass in
the fourth quarter -- only the second TD allowed by Denver this

"Guys were ticked off when we gave up that shutout," safety
John Lynch said. "That was good to see."

Denver's easy win was especially satisfying for several Broncos,
including Lang, Gerard Warren, Ebenezer Ekuban, Michael Myers and
Quincy Morgan -- a quintet now known as the Browncos -- who were all
traded or released by Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel in the past two

But none of them gloated afterward. They were on strict orders
not to.

"We won, but I thought our defense could have played better,"
said Myers, who was then interrupted by Lang.

"No," the normally verbose Lang hollered. "We ain't talking.
None of us. It's over. We agreed no one on the D-line is talking."

Earlier in the week, a few of the Browncos took swipes at the
Browns (1-5), who never posed much of a threat despite having two
weeks to plan for Denver's impressive and impenetrable defense.

Cleveland's offense, which has sputtered under embattled
coordinator Maurice Carthon since Week 1, didn't move the ball
inside Denver's 42-yard line until the final play of the third

But on the next play, Denver cornerback Champ Bailey picked off
Cleveland quarterback Charlie Frye in the end zone.

"It was a disappointing loss," Browns coach Romeo Crennel
said. "It's a tough one. We had a good week of practice and felt
like we could get something done."

Frye got dinged early in the game and then was sacked three
times in the fourth quarter when Denver's defense pinned back its
ears to put the game away.

Following the game, Frye, who sustained a mild concussion, was
advised to answer just two questions by doctors because he was

His 6-yard scoring pass to Joe Jurevicius with 11:43 left
brought Cleveland within 17-7, and the Browns got the ball back.
But several dropped passes and Denver's pressure kept Cleveland
from making it close.

Plummer, who threw four interceptions and no TDs in his first
two games, finished 20-of-41 for 209 yards and tossed a 9-yard
scoring pass to rookie Brandon Marshall to put Denver up 17-0 in
the third quarter.

Plummer's performance is unlikely to silence some Broncos fans
who want to see the club give rookie Jay Cutler a shot.

"At the end of the game I didn't make good decisions," Plummer
said. "We need to get better there. There is some room for

It's tough to find any fault with Denver's defense, whose two
TDs allowed in the first six games are the fewest since the 1934
Detroit Lions shut out their first seven opponents. Before Frye's
scoring toss, the Broncos hadn't give up a TD in 11 quarters.

"All that matters is that we won," Bailey said. "Yes, we take
a lot of pride in not giving up touchdowns, but the win is more
important. We'll go into next week and see if we can do better."

Next week, the Broncos will have their hands full as they'll
face the unbeaten Indianapolis Colts.

Denver's defense held Cleveland to 165 yards, including just 34
on the ground.

Tatum Bell rushed 24 times for 115 yards and a TD, and Javon
Walker had nine catches for 107 yards.

About the only blemish for the Broncos was Warren. Taunted by
fans in the Dawg Pound during pregame warmups, he injured his right
big toe on the first series and didn't return. He struggled to put
his shoe on after the game and left the stadium on crutches.

Cleveland, too, had a big-name player go down as cornerback Gary
Baxter sustained a possible serious injury to his left knee while
breaking up a deep pass intended for Walker late in the second

Baxter has played in just seven games in two seasons since
signing a six-year, $30 million free agent contract.

Game notes
Broncos OT Matt Lepsis injured his right knee in the first
half and didn't return. ... Browns WR Dennis Northcutt (ribs) and
CB Leigh Bodden (ankle) were inactive. With Northcutt out, Joshua
Cribbs handled punt return duties. ... Shanahan got his 135th
career win, passing Weeb Ewbank for 18th place on the career list.
Next up is Hank Stram with 136.


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