Big Portis day a must against Vikes

With Jake Plummer sidelined and the noise in the Metrodome making the snap count inaudible, it's important for the Broncos to establish a solid running game in today's contest against the Minnesota Vikings. Read about it in today's news reports.

Denver at Minnesota: The Broncos have not won a game against a team with a winning record and came close in their only loss of the 2003 season to the Kansas City Chiefs. Minnesota has come out of the starting gate on fire. With an improved defense and explosive offense, the Vikings are no longer considered pretenders in the tough NFC North division. With starting quarterback Jake Plummer out for the next four weeks, Steve Beuerlein will handle the role as signal-caller, and despite the Broncos quick start to the season, Beuerlein is more than a capable backup with the ability to take what the defense gives him.

The Vikings have shown to be very tough at home, but can the rebuilt Minnesota defense control the line of scrimmage and stop running back Clinton Portis from getting off? In limiting the open gaps to run through, Portis struggled last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Broncos struggled to move the ball against a less than average Pittsburgh defense.

With Plummer sidelined, the Denver offense may lack some of the imagination that Portis and Plummer provide. Beuerlein is a capable quarterback, but the truth is that the Broncos need to run the football to take some pressure off Beuerlein. If the Vikings are able to contain the Denver running game, the Broncos will be forced to go to the air. This could be good, or it could be bad. The Denver game plan will be to control the clock with a ball-control game in the hopes of keeping Culpepper and company off the field. When Minnesota has the ball, look for the Broncos to run numerous disguised blitz packages to pressure Culpepper into mistakes. Denver is the better defensive team and playing on the turf should be enhancing an already quick Denver team.

The Vikings are easily the superior offensive team, but the speed and quickness of the Denver defense should make this game interesting. The story of this game may come down to the ability of the Denver defense to penetrate a physically imposing Minnesota offensive line. Concerns about the speed of the Broncos heading into this game on the turf in Minnesota are premature, as the Vikings defense has played well against the run and have been better than average against the pass, but have shown some cracks in the armor in recent games. The tale of improvement within this Minnesota defensive backfield can be attributed to the play of the defensive backs that have been opportunistic in creating turnovers. This should be the game of the week and it should go down to the wire.

Denver

OUT - LB Ian Gold (knee); QB Jake Plummer (foot)

PROBABLE - LB Keith Burns (knee); DT Dorsett Davis (ankle); S Nick Ferguson (knee); DT Daryl Gardener (wrist); S Kenoy Kennedy (ankle); TE Mike Leach (flu); WR Ed McCaffrey (knee); C Tom Nalen (ankle); T Ephraim Salaam (knee)

Minnesota

QUESTIONABLE - WR D'Wayne Bates (foot); DT Billy Lyon (leg)

PROBABLE - K Aaron Elling (back)

2003 rankings: Broncos: offense 9th (3rd rush, 21st pass); defense 2nd (11th rush, 5th pass). Vikings: offense 1st (4th rush, 9th pass); defense 21st (10th rush, 21st pass).

 

More stories

Raging fire - Denver Post - Anthony Cotton
Sunday, October 19, 2003 - These are happy times for Randy Moss. Entering today's game against the Broncos at Minnesota's Metrodome, there has been scarcely a peep from the Vikings' mercurial wide receiver about the team's play-calling or not getting the football enough.

Broncos need backups, not step back - Denver Post - Adam Schefter
Sunday, October 19, 2003 - Their offense's quarterback is gone. Their defense's playmaker is gone. The Broncos do not want their chances of catching the Kansas City Chiefs to be disabled, too. During a week in which the Broncos have suffered two key losses, they are trying to avoid a third.

Vikings, not Ravens, get last laugh - Denver Post - Adam Schefter
Sunday, October 19, 2003 - Funny how one draft pick turned into a laugh track. But in April, it did. With a national TV audience watching and every non-Minnesota fan snickering, the Vikings became dumb and dumber. Their turn at No. 7 came ... and went. Their turn at No. 8 came ... and went. And still no pick from the Vikings.

Van Pelt deserves good look - Denver Post - Adam Schefter
Sunday, October 19, 2003 - Van Pelt's name does not come up with some of the top college quarterbacking prospects such as Eli Manning. But in my mind, he absolutely deserves a good, strong, long look from some team.

Silent count answer for Metrodome din - Denver Post - Patrick Saunders
Sunday, October 19, 2003 - It's going to get loud in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome today. Maybe not as loud as it used to be when the Vikings continually piped in blaring rock music over the stadium sound system. But it will be loud. So loud, in fact, the visiting Broncos won't be able to hear quarterback Steve Beuerlein call out the signals at the line of scrimmage. So, what's a poor quarterback to do?

NFL gameday - Denver Post - Jim Armstrong
Sunday, October 19, 2003 - Most recent regular-season meeting: Vikings won 23-20 in Denver in 1999. Point spread: Off the board as of Wednesday.

NFL gameday - Denver Post - Adam Schefter
Sunday, October 19, 2003 - Don't want to alarm Broncos fans or anything, but the Chiefs could have the AFC West wrapped up by the time they arrive in Denver for their Dec. 7 return engagement with the Broncos. Until then, the Chiefs will be favored to win every game they play. Look at their schedule, it's a whole lot softer than Jake Plummer's boot: At Oakland on Monday night, Buffalo, bye, Cleveland, at Cincinnati, Oakland, at San Diego. No reason Kansas City shouldn't be 12-0 coming to Denver.

Portis looks to play bigger role - Denver Post - John Mossman
Saturday, October 18, 2003 - Clinton Portis rushed for only 47 yards on Sunday, including an anemic 3.1 yards-per-carry average that was a career low in games he has started. He hopes it was just an aberration.

Millard uses know-how to put bite in pass rush - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
October 18, 2003 - Fresh off his January promotion to Denver Broncos defensive coordinator, Larry Coyer summoned Keith Millard to his office. Coyer asked Millard not only to continue as assistant defensive line coach but told him that the second part of Millard's job description - pass-rush specialist - was about to take on greater significance.

Eight is enough - Rocky Mountain News
October 18, 2003 - The Broncos defense has sacked the quarterback 17 times and has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher, in large part because of an effective playing rotation on the front four. Assistant defensive line coach/pass rush specialist Keith Millard gives his take on the individuals who make up defensive line.

Beuerlein prepares to toe the line - Rocky Mountain News - Lynn DeBruin
October 18, 2003 - Anyone wondering if Denver Broncos backup Steve Beuerlein has switched into starter's mode need only ask his wife. "She told me to get an apartment for a month, just move out, stay away from us," Beuerlein said with a laugh. "She feels the stress . . . it's hard on her, but she can handle it."

Broncos savor miracle of '96 - Rocky Mountain News - Lynn DeBruin
October 18, 2003 - The play, according to Shannon Sharpe, was called "70 scat halfback curl." The date was Nov. 24, 1996, the previous time the Denver Broncos played at the Metrodome in Minnesota. The result was one of the most miraculous endings in Broncos history.

NFL injury report - Rocky Mountain News
October 17, 2003 - NFL injury report

Inside the AFC West - Rocky Mountain News
October 17, 2003 - Broncos defensive end Trevor Pryce is tied with Paul Smith (55 sacks) for sixth place on Denver's all-time sacks list. He needs 10 sacks to pass Lyle Alzado (64.5) for fifth-place all time.

Kickoff - October 29 - Daily Camera
October 19, 2003 - The Broncos have the league's second-ranked defense, a solid offensive line and plenty of play-makers at the skill positions. But they won't have starting QB Jake Plummer (broken foot) for the next four weeks, which means that 38-year-old Steve Beuerlein is going to have to get the job done on the road against an undefeated team.

QB will mind the ship while Plummer heal - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
October 19, 2003 - In the NFL, a team is often only as good as its backup quarterback. Minnesota (5-0), which gets Daunte Culpepper back in the starting lineup today when it hosts Denver (5-1) at the Metrodome (11 a.m., Channel 4), was excellent under the guidence of Gus Frerotte.

Tice in swing of things, with Shanahan assist - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
October 18, 2003 - On one side of the cart, Mike Shanahan wanted to concentrate on his swing. On the other, Mike Tice wanted to focus on football. The Broncos and Vikings' head coaches were paired up for a round of golf during the NFL owners meetings during the offseason. By the 19th hole, the scorecard added up to an annoying afternoon for Shanahan, and a casual but productive work day for Tice.

Walls, Moss set to flap their gums - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
October 18, 2003 - Trash talk. Your father doesn't like it, you wouldn't want your son engaging in it, but it's a part of this generation's NFL. Even though Lenny Walls is in his first season as a starter, it's something the Denver Broncos' starting left cornerback is quite good at. So far, the former undrafted free agent has been able to back the smack up with solid play, earning some respect from his peers along the way.

Offensive coordinators often targets of players' wrath - Minneapolis Star Tribune
October 19, 2003 - San Francisco coach Dennis Erickson was admiring the success of Vikings offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, his former quarterback at Idaho, when he couldn't help but poke fun at the 49ers' sideline eruptions during their 35-7 loss to the Vikings at the Metrodome three weeks ago.

Broncos vs. Vikings: The 'credibility' facto - St. Paul Pioneer Press
Sun, Oct. 19, 2003 - Vikings coach Mike Tice has called this game his team's "credibility" and "validation" game. He admits the Vikings have rung up a 5-0 record against less-than-stellar competition. None of the teams the Vikings have played has a winning record. That changes today. The Broncos are 5-1, and Tice said he thinks they are the best team in the NFL, even though they are playing without injured quarterback Jake Plummer. Steve Beuerlein gets the start. With that said, we should find out a lot about the Vikings today.

Broncos-Vikings Capsule and Notes - DenverBroncos.com
Saturday, October 18, 2003 - When the Broncos head to Minnesota this weekend to take on the Vikings they will play their second undefeated team in three weeks. The Vikings are 5-0, coming off their bye, and quarterback Daunte Culpepper is back in the lineup.

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