ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) -Jay Cutler may or may not have a stronger arm than John Elway, as he so famously asserted last month. One thing's for sure, though: Cutler certainly has some pretty broad shoulders.
And he's going to need them.
Denver lost its third tailback in four days Friday when it was confirmed that rookie Ryan Torain tore a ligament in his left knee and is done for the season.
Cuter did his best Elway imitation Thursday night when he put the broken Broncos on his back and led them to a 34-30 comeback win at Cleveland by throwing for a career-best 447 yards and three fourth-quarter touchdowns.
With an empty backfield, no less.
The Broncos lost Torain halfway through his first NFL start and Selvin Young, pressed into duty when he wasn't quite healthy, quickly reinjured the strained left groin that had sidelined him since Oct. 5.
As suspected, Torain tore his left anterior cruciate ligament, agent Jack Scharf told The Associated Press on Friday.
ing they fully expect him to be able to come back from; it wasn't a serious tear at all,'' Scharf said. ``He'll be ready to go for the minicamps.''
Torain, sidelined for most of his senior year at Arizona State with a broken toe, missed the first half of his rookie NFL season with a broken left elbow. He had 12 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown when he went down - just as it looked like the Broncos found the answer to their battered backfield.
``He understands it's football. He's come back before and he'll come back again,'' Scharf said. ``He most definitely wanted to help the Broncos, but you deal with it, maintain a positive attitude, rehab and come back. The Broncos definitely have Ryan Torain in their long-term plans.''
It's the short-term solutions they're finding so troublesome.
The Broncos lost Michael Pittman (spinal cord) and Andre Hall (hand) for the season Sunday when they both were hurt in a game against Miami.
When Torain and Young also went down against the Browns, the Broncos were relegated to handing the ball to rookie fullback Peyton Hillis, who served as the lead blocker at Arkansas for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.
Hillis, who was benched just three weeks ago, ran eight times for 24 yards, none bigger than the 2 yards he gained on fourth-and-1 on the Broncos' winning drive.
ng the league for replacements. Among those available are former Broncos Tatum Bell and Mike Bell.
The Broncos (5-4) also are running out of linebackers.
Nate Webster is expected to miss a few weeks with a strained MCL, the same injury that sidelined D.J. Williams last Sunday. Boss Bailey, the team's other front-line linebacker, went on IR two weeks ago with a knee injury.
The Broncos also are missing cornerback Champ Bailey (groin) and safety Marlon McCree (ankle).
The good news is that receivers Eddie Royal (ankle) and Brandon Stokley (concussion) and tight end Tony Scheffler (groin) have worked their way back into the lineup.
Royal had 164 yards against the Browns, his league-leading fourth 100-yard game that was punctuated by his 93-yard touchdown catch from Cutler that sparked the Broncos' comeback - and was longer than any touchdown pass Elway ever threw, for what it's worth.
Scheffler had four catches for 92 yards, even though he's still hobbled.
The Broncos had sorely missed Scheffler over the last month, as Cutler pressed, perhaps trying to back up his assertion he had a stronger arm than Elway ``hands down.'' Denver also kept turning over the ball, which led to 60 points by its opponents.
can stay healthy.''
Shanahan boldly predicted playoffs for his team this year, but with the caveat ``if we stay healthy.''
That hasn't happened, but the Broncos did increase their lead over San Diego in the middling AFC West to 1 1/2 games.
``It was a big win. As bad as we have been playing, we just needed a win,'' Stokley said.
The locker room had started to fracture last week when flustered receiver Brandon Marshall, who caught the winning touchdown pass against the Browns, criticized not only his quarterback but also his team's defensive scheme after a disheartening loss at home to Miami.
He apologized two days later.
The win and subsequent weekend furlough might just settle down the troops long enough for the Broncos to figure out a way to stay atop their dismal division regardless of who lines up in their backfields.
``We are sticking together as a team,'' linebacker Louis Green said. ``There is no 'offense' or 'defense' - we are a team. We are going to take the momentum and ride it the rest of the season.''

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