CLEVELAND – They gave up a touchdown, but little else. For most of Sunday, the Denver Broncos’ defense was zeroed in.

The NFL’s stingiest unit held its fifth straight opponent to single digits and Jake Plummer did enough to keep Denver’s offense moving in a 17-7 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

The Broncos (5-1) were less than 12 minutes away from their first road shutout in 14 years when Plummer’s interception led to a short Cleveland touchdown pass in the fourth quarter – only the second TD allowed by Denver this season.

Still, the Broncos have allowed a league-low 44 points and haven’t given up more than 10 since Week 1.

The Browns (1-5) never posed much of a threat despite having two weeks to plan for the Broncos. Cleveland’s offense, which has sputtered under embattled coordinator Maurice Carthon since Week 1, didn’t move the ball inside Denver’s 42-yard line until the final play of the third quarter.

But on the next play, Denver cornerback Champ Bailey picked off Cleveland quarterback Charlie Frye in the end zone. However, Plummer gave it right back to the Browns when he was picked off by linebacker Andra Davis.

Frye then threw a 6-yard scoring pass to Joe Jurevicius with 11:43 left to make it 17-7. The Browns twice got the ball back but several dropped passes and Denver’s pressure kept Cleveland from making it close.

Plummer, who threw four interceptions and no TDs in his first two games, finished 20-of-41 for 209 yards and tossed a 9-yard scoring pass to rookie Brandon Marshall to put Denver up 17-0 in the third quarter.

Tatum Bell rushed 24 times for 115 yards and a TD, and Javon Walker had nine catches for 107 yards.

Denver’s defense held Cleveland to 165 yards, including just 34 on the ground and sacked Frye, who went 19-of-33 for 149 yards, three times in the fourth quarter when the Broncos put the game away.

The easy win was especially satisfying for several Broncos, including Gerard Warren, Kenard Lang, Ebenezer Ekuban, Michael Myers and Quincy Morgan. The group, known as the Browncos, were all traded or released by Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel in the past two years.

Warren, however, didn’t have a memorable homecoming. Taunted by fans in the Dawg Pound during pregame warmups, he injured his right big toe on the first series and didn’t return.

Cleveland, too, had a big-name player go down as cornerback Gary Baxter sustained a possible serious injury to his left knee while breaking up a deep pass intended for Walker late in the second quarter.

Bell’s 9-yard touchdown run – only Denver’s third rushing TD this season- gave the Broncos a 10-0 halftime lead.

Plummer had trouble throwing early and late as the tricky winds knocked down some of his balls and made others fly erratically. Once he settled in, he began to shred Cleveland’s secondary, which was without conrerback Leigh Bodden for the second straight game.

Plummer went 6-for-9 for on a 12-play, 86-yard drive that Bell capped with his untouched run around the right side.

Pinned back at their own 2 after a 50-yard punt by Cleveland Dave Zastudil, the Broncos drove to Cleveland’s 13, but had to settle for Jason Elam’s 32-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

AP-ES-10-22-06 1917EDT

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