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Broncos get pass from 'D' Buffalo starters have rough first half Bills vs. Broncos: Orton's long drives, McGahee TDs lead to 24-10 loss

The Buffalo Bills' defense could not slow down Denver's passing game, and the Bills' offense could not find much rhythm Saturday night.

It added up to a poor showing by the Buffalo starting units in the second preseason game of the summer.

Denver's starters outscored the Bills' starters, 14-3, on the strength of two touchdowns by former Bills running back Willis McGahee. The Broncos went on to win the game, 24-10.

The Bills' starting defense, which opened strong against Chicago last week, stopped the Broncos on the first drive of the game, but then gave up two long marches. Quarterback Kyle Orton drove his team 66 yards in 10 plays and 76 yards in 10 plays.

Denver outgained the Bills, 228-90, in the first half.

Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had a rough night, completing 6 of 16 passes for just 44 yards. The starting offense played the entire first half.

Orton was 10 of 13 for 135 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.

Denver's second-string quarterback, Brady Quinn, was sharp, too. He completed 10 of 16 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown.

"Orton is an efficient passer," linebacker Nick Barnett said. "We made some mistakes out there -- mixing up some coverages and doing different things. Overall he's a good passer and an efficient one, but nothing we can't stop. We have to continue to work hard and do what we are supposed to do."

McGahee scored on a 1-yard run with 14:21 left in the second quarter. He added a 13-yard touchdown catch with 6:22 left.

Fitzpatrick engineered a drive to a field goal on the Bills' first possession. But he was sacked once and took plenty of hits on the next three drives. Bills left tackle Demetrius Bell had trouble with Denver's speed rushers. Fitzpatrick had the Bills marching in Denver territory late in the first half but threw an interception when his pass bounced off Marcus Easley's hands and into the arms of Denver's D.J. Williams.

"We ran the ball effectively," Fitzpatrick said. "Unfortunately we didn't match that with a good passing game. So our drives were stalling because we couldn't get anything going in the air.

"There's a lot of stuff that goes into that. But it starts with me. I have to play better. I have to throw the ball better. We're lucky this is the preseason because that wasn't our best effort out there."

Two of the top rookies in the NFL looked good. Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, the third overall pick in the NFL Draft in April, had a quarterback sack on the first drive. Denver outside linebacker Von Miller, the second pick in the draft, had a sack on the second drive of the game by the Bills.

The Bills got a touchdown early in the fourth quarter on a 15-yard pass from second-string quarterback Tyler Thigpen to receiver Felton Huggins. It capped an 80-yard drive in 13 plays and 6:20. A 20-yard throw from Thigpen to Easley preceded the TD play.

Both the Bills and the Broncos went 4-12 last season.

The Bills' first defensive series was a success. Denver got one first down and was forced to punt after a 5-yard sack by Dareus, who got pressure up the middle. Good pressure by Chris Kelsay off right tackle forced the quarterback to step up into Dareus.

Denver's offense got rolling on its second drive.

Screen passes hurt the Bills' defense. Denver back Knowshon Moreno gained 12 yards on a screen to the Buffalo 46, then had an 11-yard reception on an underneath crossing route to convert a third-and-10 situation. Denver gained 20 more yards on a screen to the left to McGahee to the Buffalo 1. McGahee capped the drive two plays later with a plunge over right guard.

The TD pass to McGahee came on a flare pattern to the right. It appeared Bills inside linebacker Reggie Torbor got caught up in traffic and couldn't get out to McGahee, who had a clear field into the end zone.

The Bills marched 58 yards to a field goal on their first drive. It lasted 6:21, went 13 plays and was capped by a 40-yard field goal by Rian Lindell.

It looked like the drive was stopped after three plays. But on a fourth and 1 from the Buffalo 29, the Bills ran a fake punt, snapping to the up-man, Brad Smith, and he ran for 4 yards and a first down.

C.J. Spiller gained 22 yards on the march, including 14 on a run off tackle to the Bills' 47. A slant pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Stevie Johnson gave the Bills 11 more yards, and Fitzpatrick threw a screen pass to tight end Scott Chandler for 9 yards to the Denver 30. On a third-and-10 play from the 22, Fitzpatrick had throw quickly and incomplete because Elvis Dumervil got pressure wide on Bell.

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mgaughan@buffnews.com