It was a combination of familiar faces and promising new-comers, as the Denver Broncos opened their 2001 preseason with a commanding 20-6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium Saturday night.
Jason Elam opened up the scoring, capping off a 61-yard drive as he connected from 40-yards out on the teams first possession, while backup kicker Steve Lindsey added a 27-yarder with less than five minutes remaining in the first quarter, giving the Broncos an early 6-0 lead.
Brian Griese, who engineered Denvers first two possessions, connected on seven of ten passes for 91-yards before turning the reigns over to backup Gus Frerotte, who found fullback Patrick Hape for the games first touchdown.
The two-yard toss to Hape followed a 13 play 80-yard drive in which Frerotte used a balanced attack, both in the air and on the ground, giving Denver a 13-0 lead.
Steve Beuerlein, who is in a tightly contested battle with Frerotte for the number two slot behind starter Brian Griese, was scratched prior to the game with a nagging elbow injury following recent surgery. His availability for the remainder of the preseason remains on a day-to-day basis, yet the Broncos are hopeful he will be ready for limited action within the next few weeks.
Olandis Gary, returning to the field for the first time since tearing his ACL last season, rushed for 35-yards on ten carries. With the status of Terrell Davis still in question appearances dictate that Gary will be the teams number one back throughout most of the preseason, with last years rookie sensation Mike Anderson filling in on specialty downs.
"I was a little rusty," Gary told reporters. "There are still some things I need to work on, I need to get to the holes quicker."
The Broncos defense showed their improvement under new coordinator Ray Rhodes, holding Dallas scoreless till midway through the third quarter when Tim Seder connected on a 48-yard field goal to cut the lead to 13-3.
Proving they have some firepower of their own, cornerback Jason Suttle returned an interception 48-yards for a touchdown, giving the Broncos a healthy 20-3 cushion, with 10:39 remaining in the final period.
Dallas added a late score in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, as Seder once again found the range, this one from 32-yards out to round out the scoring at 20-6.
The Broncos now return to Greeley for their final week of training camp, before heading to the land of the cheeseheads to take on the Green Bay Packers on Monday, Aug. 20. The game will be nationally televised on ABC's Monday Night Football at 6 p.m. (MDT).