NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Denver Broncos are showing they can not only throw the ball but score when it matters most.
The Broncos (2-2) clinched the victory when they kicked short on the ensuing kickoff, trying to avoid rookie Marc Mariani who already had a 98-yard return for a touchdown. The Titans (2-2) let the ball bounce, and Mariani tried to jump up and catch it only to be hit by David Bruton.
Cassius Vaughn recovered, and Matt Prater kicked his fourth field goal to pad the lead.
Tennessee had one last chance with 33 seconds left, but Vince Young's third incompletion fell to the turf as time expired to overshadow a game in which Tennessee had a season-high six sacks and an interception.
Denver came in with the NFL's top passing offense, and Orton finished with 341 yards passing and two touchdowns as Denver held the ball more than 35 minutes. The Broncos, who got only two field goals on five trips inside their opponent 20 in losing to the Colts last week, scored on six of seven such trips against the NFL's best defense in that category.
The only time the Broncos didn't score?
When Jabar Gaffney couldn't collect a low throw from Orton at the back of the end zone with 4:33 left. Gaffney atoned for that on the next drive as Orton threw deep to the receiver, and officials flagged Titans safety Chris Hope for pass interference putting the ball at the Tennessee 1.
Orton put Denver ahead with his TD pass to Buckhalter, his second of the game.
Denver's defense also did its part with two sacks and one turnover. The Broncos held Tennessee to just 46 of its 288 yards on offense in the second half. Chris Johnson ran for only 53 yards.
Tennessee led 20-16 after Mariani's kickoff return for a TD in the third quarter, and Rob Bironas kicked his second field goal of the game with 5:00 left in the third quarter.
The Titans sacked Orton three times in the first quarter alone and outgained the Broncos 115-15. But Bironas pushed a 35-yard field goal wide right, and Johnson fumbled to end two drives deep into Denver territory.
Denver took advantage of a roughing call by Sen'Derrick Marks on Orton on third down where the lineman appeared to grab the quarterback around the thigh. A play later, the Titans jumped offside for a neutral zone infraction that prompted defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil to throw an obscene gesture at officials that was caught by television cameras.
A play later, Orton put Denver up 7-0 with a 2-yard TD pass to Eddie Royal.
The Titans answered almost immediately. Javon Ringer, Johnson's backup, broke loose on a 54-yard run, and Young found Kenny Britt for an 8-yard TD to tie it up on the next drive. The teams swapped field goals to go into halftime tied at 10 apiece with Bironas kicking a 55-yarder as time expired to atone for his earlier miss.