Broncos improve to 4-0 for first time since 2003
AP Sports Writer
DENVER – As he weaved his way for a 51-yard touchdown, Brandon Marshall’s temper tantrum at training camp was a fading memory.
He was back to being the “Beast,” a self-proclaimed moniker that had given way to a petulant attitude this offseason when Marshall demanded a trade, sulked when he didn’t get it and lost his head at practice one day.
Marshall caught a pass over Terence Newman late in the fourth quarter, flashed a few open-field moves and scored the winning touchdown that sent the Denver Broncos past the Dallas Cowboys 17-10 Sunday.
Soon after his catch, Marshall came over to the sideline and gave Broncos coach Josh McDaniels an emotional embrace. McDaniels even uttered a few words to his talented yet temperamental star.
Calling a truce?
Neither Marshall nor McDaniels would discuss the subject of their quick chat.
“He’s just one of us,” McDaniels said as the Broncos improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2003. “Our team loves him, we love him. I think he loves being a part of this team.”
That didn’t seem to be the case in camp, where Marshall was defiantly knocking down passes and punting footballs in a tantrum that drew a nine-day suspension from the team.
Marshall insisted his beef wasn’t with McDaniels, just with his contract and a hip injury he felt the team’s medical staff misdiagnosed last year.
“You never heard me say anything (bad) about him coaching or what he brings to the organization,” Marshall said. “Coach does a great job of preparing us and getting us in the right position.”
That’s one of the reasons the Broncos called Marshall’s number, thinking they had detected something in Dallas’ defense.
Newman was playing off of Marshall on an earlier catch, and McDaniels figured the cornerback was susceptible to a big play on the right sideline.
So, Kyle Orton lofted a ball toward Marshall, who caught it over Newman and then took off running.
This was the Marshall of last season, the one who made his first Pro Bowl and who caught 18 passes in one game. Marshall worked his way through the middle of the field, then cut back to the outside and into the end zone, giving the Broncos a 17-10 lead with just under 2 minutes left.
“One of the best runs I’ve ever seen after the ball was in his hands,” McDaniels said.
Marshall won’t disagree.
“It probably was one of my most emotional plays ever since little league, and I had a bunch of them,” Marshall said. “I am just grateful that we were able to capitalize on that look.”
The Cowboys were crying foul on the play, thinking Marshall gave Newman a little push.
“He just threw Terence out of the way,” Dallas coach Wade Phillips said. “Terence almost made the interception, but it didn’t turn out that way. Brandon is obviously a good player and he made a great play.”
Yet it took a defensive stand to secure the win over the Cowboys (2-2).
Tony Romo directed a late drive that worked the ball down to the 2-yard line with 9 seconds left. From there, he tried to pick on perennial Pro Bowler Champ Bailey, who knocked away a high pass intended for Sam Hurd on third down.
Romo again attacked Bailey on fourth down, only to have Bailey reach in front of Hurd with his left hand and deflect the pass.
“Maybe they thought they could catch Champ sleeping,” Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams said. “One of the top corners in the league – my last play, I wouldn’t go toward him.”
If given another chance, Romo would make the same decision.
“We got what we wanted, we just didn’t make the play,” said Romo, who finished 25 for 42 for 255 yards and was picked off by Bailey.
The Cowboys saw precisely what the Broncos wanted them to see – Bailey matched up with virtually no help. They wanted Dallas to take the bait.
“Leaves us with our best player going against their best option,” Williams said. “Champ made a great play.”
All in a day’s work for Bailey.
“If you want to keep testing me, putting the pressure on me, I’m with you,” Bailey said.
Before Bailey’s great plays, safety Brian Dawkins saved a touchdown when he darted across the field to tackle Hurd at the Denver 20 following a 53-yard catch-and-run on fourth down.
Aside from that one play, Denver’s defense came up big again, holding the league’s best rushing attack to just 74 yards on 25 carries. The Broncos also hurried Romo all afternoon, sacking him five times, including two by Elvis Dumervil.
The diminutive Dumervil is tied for the league lead with eight sacks this season.