The Broncos dominated the first half, outgaining Buffalo 268 yards to 95 -- including an edge of 213 to minus-2 in the first quarter -- but they led just 13-10 at halftime after settling for two chip-shot field goals by Prater and a big strategic blunder by Shanahan.
Rather than sending in the punt team on fourth down at the Buffalo 36, Shanahan sent in Prater, who had converted all five of his tries from 50-plus but was well short on a 54-yarder.
That gave the Bills great field position and they drove down the field, pulling to 13-10 on Marshawn Lynch's 2-yard touchdown run with 11 seconds left before halftime. Lynch later left with a shoulder injury.
Cutler capped a crisp opening drive with a 2-yard touchdown run, and Denver's defense made a statement on its first series when star cornerback Champ Bailey had an immediate impact in his return from a torn groin that cost him two months.
Bailey got the tackle on the first snap, then waylaid Edwards for his second career sack and his first since his rookie year in 1999. He also forced a fumble that Lynch recovered.
P.J. Pope became the sixth tailback to start in the Broncos' battered backfield -- and he went to the sideline in the first quarter with a tight left hamstring. Selvin Young came in and carried the load until leaving with a pinched nerve in his neck late in the third quarter, leaving Bell as the only healthy ball carrier.
The 17-degree temperature at kickoff marked the second-coldest game on record ever played in Denver. The only one colder was the Broncos' game against San Diego on Dec. 10, 1972, when it was 9 degrees.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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