The Denver Broncos ended their 2001 preseason with one of the most spectacular performances in recent memory. A night when both the offense and defense showed up to play, on the same field, for the same game.
Granted, it's only preseason, but it does give cause for belief that the team is headed in the right direction.
Also headed in the right direction is former NFL MVP Terrell Davis, who scored his first Bronco touchdown of the year with a 20-yard scamper around the left side, running untouched into the end zone to give Denver a 14-7 second quarter lead.
"I felt great. Things are starting to come together for me physically," said Davis. "I was much better this week than last, and again as I just keep going and playing more, that ought to get better every week."
Davis finished the game with 8 carries for 42-yards, before trainers pulled him late in the game to repair a gash on his left forearm. Ten stitches later Davis was ready to go, but coaches opted for rest rather than risk further injury.
"He had a couple of big-time runs in there," Shanahan said. "I was hoping he'd play the last 8 minutes so he could get in good football shape. But he got a lot of work in."
So did his counterparts, Olandis Gary and Mike Anderson, who all showed flashes of brilliance despite limited playing time.
Gary finished the evening with 52 yards on nine carries for a 5.8-yard average, and Anderson totaled 61 yards on 15 carries and a 1-yard TD run, giving the Broncos running back-by-committee a grand total of 155 yards and two touchdowns for the evening.
"The main thing is we all came out of here healthy," Gary said, as the trio now awaits Mike Shanahan's decision on who will be named the starting back for next week's season opener against the New York Giants.
"I put my best foot forward since training camp started," said Anderson, who gave the Broncos a 28-7 lead midway through the third quarter with a 1-yard touchdown plunge.
"Now the preseason is over, we've had four games and now it's Mike's decision and we'll just go from there."
Shanahan, meanwhile, was unwilling to tip his hand on that particular spot, but his decision to rest everyone else on the first-string offensive unit indicates they are more than ready for the seasons opener.
He preferred to concentrated on the defensive unit, who opened up the scoring as John Mobley picked his first interception of the preseason, returning a Tim Rattay pass 30 yards to give Denver a 7-0 lead only 2 minutes into the game.
Cornerback Eric Davis increased the Broncos lead to 21-7 with 1:41 left in the first half on a 24-yard interception return.
"We wanted to come out and play real well, and I think we did that," said Davis. "I don't feel as though we tackled very well the last game, and we took it upon ourselves as players to go out and have a solid game. Guys lined up and played well, and that's what we have to do."
Backup quarterback Gus Frerotte looked sharp, completing his first eleven passes for 118-yards. Frerotte finished the game with 16 of 19 passes for 190 yards, before giving time to third team QB Jarrious Jackson, former NFL Europe stand out.
Jackson led the team on its final scoring drive, a 9-yard scramble giving the Notre Dame alumni his second touchdown of the preseason, and a 35-7 victory.
Denver now has ten days to prepare for next week's season opener against the New York Giants on Monday Night Football.
Broncos close out preseason with a 35-7 victory
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