Portis carries the load

Twelve games into the 2003 NFL season and the answer has become apparent. When Clinton runs, the Broncos win.

So much for Eddie Kennison, so much for the hype and so much for the league leading Kansas City Chiefs. Sunday belonged to Clinton Portis and the suddenly revitalized Denver Broncos.

Belonged to the tune of a 45-27 domination, fueled in part by Portis' 218-yard, five-touchdown performance. It was an effort unequaled in Bronco history, one rushing touchdown shy of an NFL record originally established by Ernie Nevers in 1929.

Ernie who?

Exactly.

"Yea, I heard that," said Portis. "He had six touchdowns. Last year against Kansas City I had four touchdowns, today I had five touchdowns, I guess next year is going to be my lucky year."

Well let's not get too far ahead of ourselves, in all reality that wish may come sooner that anticipated, especially if the Broncos realize that the rushing game is by far their single most valuable offensive weapon.

When the Broncos open up the running game, the Broncos win football games, and winning football games is mandatory in order to make a possible bid at post-season action. In fact, at this stage of the season Denver must win all of its remaining three games if they have any hopes of securing a spot as an AFC Wild Card.

That means wins against Cleveland, Indianapolis and Green Bay. Difficult yes, but not impossible.

Cleveland has proven itself a lameduck when it comes to stopping the run. Indianapolis and Green Bay, undoubtedly stronger, can also be vulnerable when it comes to containing quick, cut-back style runner such as Portis.

Today the Chiefs, tomorrow the playoffs, all on the legs of a 5'11", 200 lb. second-year player out of Miami.

Difficult, but not impossible.

"We knew that if we kept cracking at them that things would work out," quarterback Jake Plummer told reporters. "We just have to give him the rock. Right now he's our meal ticket and we're able to get some real good stuff out of him."


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