Rookie QB Cutler Solid in Broncos' Debut

Friday, August 11th 2006, 9:51 pm
By: News On 6

DETROIT (AP) _ Rod Marinelli's debut as coach of the Detroit Lions got off to a good start with a 20-13 win over the Denver Broncos on Friday night.

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

Each of the Lions' quarterbacks _ Jon Kitna, Josh McCown and Dan Orlovsky _ led scoring drives and Detroit's defense caused three turnovers.

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 Josh 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.

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, made an 18-yard pass to Roy Williams and a 10-yard run on consecutive third downs to set up Jason Hanson's 36-yard field goal.

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.

Marinelli said earlier in the week McCown would be the second quarterback to play, but Orlovsky took snaps after Kitna. 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.

Orlovsky threw an up-for-grabs pass that was intercepted by Domonique Foxworth at midfield. Cutler took advantage of the 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 made three passes for 27 yards and Tatum Bell had a 15-yard run before Elam made another field goal, making 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 one play after a penalty against Detroit for having 12 men on the field while the Broncos were kicking a field goal. Kircus, a former Lions receiver competing for a spot on Denver's roster, had six catches for 76 yards.

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 Wednesday. After an impressive training camp and one reception for 9 yards, Broncos rookie Brandon Marshall left the game in the first half with a strained right knee.