Playoff bound Broncos bomb Colts

No Clinton Portis --- no problem. Denver unveiled a new offensive game plan, rookie RB Quentin Griffin ran for 136, QB Jake Plummer was almost perfect and the defense stifled the Indianapolis Colts as Denver secured a wild card playoff berth with a 31-17 win.

Playoff berth on 'Q' - Denver Post - Patrick Saunders
Monday, December 22, 2003 - More unimaginable than Denver's biggest road win since its January 1998 AFC championship game victory in Pittsburgh was the scene that unfolded Sunday night in the Broncos' celebratory locker room after it. Broncos owner Pat Bowlen stood in front of his team, grabbed a game ball and handed it off to pint-sized running back Quentin Griffin, the final handoff of the day to Denver's newest little big man.

Performance by Plummer worthy of holiday cheer - Denver Post - Woody Paige
Monday, December 22, 2003 - Before and, even more so, two minutes into Sunday night's game it was easier to believe in Santa Claus than the Broncos. Then the unbelievable occurred. Yes, children, there is a Jake Plummer. And there's a pony under the Broncos' tree. Merryflippingchristmas.

It's time to live dream: Road paved for success - Denver Post - Mark Kiszla
Monday, December 22, 2003 - Nobody in the NFL must take a longer road to the Super Bowl. Nobody but the Broncos would even try. Nobody except a crazy dreamer can see how Denver can win a championship from here.

Grabbing opportunity - Denver Post - Patrick Saunders
Monday, December 22, 2003 - The Colts never saw Quentin Griffin coming. Not before the game, and maybe not even during it. That's because the 5-foot-7 rookie running back, who barely can be seen by defenders, sliced, diced and twirled through the Colts like a Tasmanian devil.

Secondary devours Colts' combo plate - Denver Post - Jim Armstrong
Monday, December 22, 2003 - Where's your Marvin now, Indianapolis? One week after being scorched by the Browns, the Broncos' secondary came up airtight against Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison, the most lethal passing combination in the business.

Portis prognosis for G.B. promising/a> - Denver Post
Monday, December 22, 2003 - The unceasing Clinton Portis Watch has been extended from last week into this week. But unlike last week, Broncos officials said they expect Portis to be ready to play Sunday in Green Bay.

Indy feeling empty after poor showing - Denver Post - Hank Lowenkron
Monday, December 22, 2003 - After being outclassed on the football field on national television, the Indianapolis Colts can look forward to likely facing the Broncos again in two weeks when the playoffs begin.

Playoff picture - Denver Post
Monday, December 22, 2003 - Kansas City (12-3) has clinched the division title and a first-round bye. The Chiefs could claim home-field advantage with a win Sunday at home against Chicago and a loss by New England at home Saturday against Buffalo. The Chiefs would have a better record against common opponents in a tiebreaker with New England.

Playoff / Tiebreaker information - Denver Post
Monday, December 22, 2003 - Playoff / Tiebreaker information

Playoff-bound - Rocky Mountain News - Lynn DeBruin
Monday, December 22, 2003 - The calendar said December, but the frenzied atmosphere inside the RCA Dome on Sunday night said playoffs. And the Denver Broncos showed they definitely belong with their stunning 31-17 upset of the high-flying Indianapolis Colts.

Injuries to two regulars leave secondary in a somber mood - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer and Lynn DeBruin
December 22, 2003 - The plane ride to Denver on Sunday night should have been joyous for the Broncos secondary after it slowed down Peyton Manning and Co. Instead, two significant injuries on consecutive plays during the third quarter might result in the loss of two starters and dampened the group's enthusiasm.

Griffin finally cuts teeth on field - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
December 22, 2003 - The Quentin Griffin with whom Denver Broncos' college scouts fell in love last spring at last made his pro debut. The statistics show Griffin did play in eight games before Sunday night. But he rarely resembled the running back that accumulated nearly 5,000 all-purpose yards at the University of Oklahoma.

Pryce, defense don't mind watching - Rocky Mountain News - Jason L. Young
December 22, 2003 - Trevor Pryce did not bemoan his lack of playing time against Indianapolis. Instead, the Denver defensive end rejoiced in it. He and the rest of his defensive teammates sat on the bench for all but about 15 minutes of the Broncos' 31-17 playoff-berth-clinching victory. By keeping the NFL's top offense off the artificial turf at the RCA Dome, the Broncos never gave the Colts offense an opportunity to hurt them or get into anything resembling a rhythm.

Krieger: This team can do it when it has to - Rocky Mountain News - Dave Krieger
December 22, 2003 - Mike Shanahan turned out to be right, of course. About everything. You never really doubted him, did you? Me neither. His team is fabulously talented. It can play with anyone. And, yes, 10 wins will get you in the playoffs. But come on, admit it. Awesome as this exhibition was, you couldn't help wondering, at least during the commercials: Why don't they look like this more often?

Lincicome: Maybe these are the real Denver Broncos - Rocky Mountain News - Bernie Lincicome
December 22, 2003 - Clinton. Quentin. Sarge. What's the difference? Maybe the Broncos could put a spitball in their backfield and run the ball, make the playoffs, stun one of the better teams in football, prevail in the Colts' own loud and lusty house, establish themselves as something to be taken seriously after all. Maybe that's exactly what they did.

Commentary: This time, Broncos star in familiar Indy nightmare - Rocky Mountain News - Bob Kravitz, The Indianapolis Star
December 22, 2003 - This is what the great Colts playoff nightmare looks like. One game. An entire season in the balance. And all of it, the Tampa Bay miracle and all the other breathless finishes, all flushed in a giant swirl of defensive breakdowns and missed tackles. Isn't this how it goes?

This time, Broncos guard Neil didn't go to great pains to play - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer and Lynn DeBruin
December 22, 2003 - Dan Neil's ability to play through pain remains one of his chief attributes. Last season, he was in the Denver Broncos starting lineup at right guard only six days after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, saving a major microfracture procedure for the off-season. He missed only a few plays after suffering a high ankle sprain during a 2001 game against Kansas City.

Saunders: Theismann tones it down, and ESPN finds the right tone - Rocky Mountain News - Dusty Saunders
December 22, 2003 - Four years ago, I got sore ears listening to Joe Theismann in ESPN's Sunday night NFL booth. He babbled - constantly - during a Denver Broncos-Seattle Seahawks game. But experience and/or possibly some broadcasting-booth coaching have produced a calmer Theismann, who was on display Sunday night during the Broncos game against the Indianapolis Colts. Theismann now realizes there are two other broadcasters in the ESPN booth.

Broncos replay - Rocky Mountain News
December 22, 2003 - Broncos replay

Who's in line - Rocky Mountain News
December 22, 2000 - The Broncos will play one of these teams in the first round of the playoffs either Jan. 3 or 4

No horsin' around: Broncos playoff-bound - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
December 22, 2003 - When you are the starting running back in Mike Shanahan's offense, you are a superstar. Or at the very least a productive NFL running back.

Thorburn: Broncos contenders, not pretenders - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
December 22, 2003 -Mike Shanahan, it turns out, still knows what he's talking about. When the Denver Broncos were 5-4 and dropping like flies — seems like a long time ago, doesn't it? — their head coach didn't panic. "There is still a lot of football left," Shanny said seemingly every manic Monday. "Ten wins. That's usually what it takes to get into the playoffs." This regular season has been flawed, and on the brink, but the Broncos scored their Perfect 10 on Sunday night.

Griffin, Anderson fill in nicely for Portis - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
December 22, 2003 - He came, he saw, he sat. Clinton Portis, who was listed by the Broncos as "questionable" all week with a sprained right knee and ankle, was unable to suit up for Sunday night's game against Indianapolis.

Rematch in Indy may be in works - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
December 22, 2003 - In the month of December, Brett Favre has only lost once at Lambeau Field during his great career as Green Bay's quarterback. So what, say the Denver Broncos?

Bye, bye - Indianapolis Star - Phil Richards
December 22, 2003 - Of the 40 teams that have played in the Super Bowl over the past 20 years, 34 had first-round playoff byes and home-field advantage in the divisional round. The Indianapolis Colts squandered an opportunity to put themselves on that merry path Sunday night when they were battered, 31-17, by the Denver Broncos at the RCA Dome in a home-field smackdown that was as embarrassing as it was comprehensive. They also failed to clinch the AFC South title and the first-round home game it would assure on wild-card weekend Jan. 3-4. The bye is gone, but the latter, at least, is recoverable.

Game plan is simple: Stop run - Indianapolis Star - Bob Kravitz
December 22, 2003 - This is what the great Colts playoff nightmare looks like. One game. An entire season in the balance. And all of it, the Tampa Bay miracle and all the other breathless finishes, all flushed in a giant swirl of defensive breakdowns and missed tackles. Isn't this how it goes? Isn't this why it's so hard to trust this team, even if it earns the No. 3 seed and plays a game, or maybe two, at the RCA Dome? Tell me when you've heard this one before.They can't stop the run.

Colts make no excuses for shoddy defensive effort - Indianapolis Star - Phillip B. Wilson
December 22, 2003 - Give the Indianapolis Colts' dejected defenders some shred of credit. They weren't defensive after the game, either. They fessed up to the mess in a 31-17 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday night at the RCA Dome. And from the worst defensive disarray since a 41-0 playoff loss to the New York Jets in January came some thoughts with perspective. "Funny thing about football," said Colts left defensive tackle Larry Tripplett, "sometimes when it's not your day, it really isn't your day."

Thanks to Griffin, Portis not missed - Indianapolis Star - Phillip B. Wilson
December 22, 2003 - Much of the pregame concern for Denver centered on whether Clinton Portis would play because of knee and ankle sprains. The Pro Bowl running back didn't play, but it turned out the Broncos didn't need him. Rookie Quentin Griffin sparked the Broncos' attack in a 31-17 triumph over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night. The victory clinched a playoff berth for the Broncos (10-5).

Offense sputters vs. Broncos' game plan - Indianapolis Star - Mike Chappell
December 22, 2003 - Seldom has so little been accomplished by a Peyton Manning-led offense. And never have the Colts had so few plays to accomplish anything on offense as was the case in Sunday night's 31-17 loss to the Denver Broncos in the RCA Dome. The Broncos' ball-control tactics contributed to the Colts snapping a franchise-low 37 plays on offense and finishing with just 183 total yards.

Plummer Shakes Off INT For Terrific Night - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Monday, December 22, 2003 - This was a different kind of comeback for quarterback Jake Plummer. In Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns, he cranked up the Broncos' offense in the game's climactic moments, slinging a 46-yard pass to Ashley Lelie that set up the game-tying field goal and making the 23-yard run that moved the Broncos in range for the game-winning points. Seven nights later in the RCA Dome, he began his comeback less than two minutes into the game.

Max Q: Griffin Comes Up Big Against Colts - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Monday, December 22, 2003 - For the first 14 games of the season, Quentin Griffin was a gift from the draft that the Broncos had yet to fully unwrap. They'd peeked, poked and pulled back a little of the wrapping paper, but with his extended duty limited mostly to late-game relief, the fourth-round pick's potential remained largely unknown.

Broncos-Colts Notebook: A Blast From the Past - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Monday, December 22, 2003 - Lest we forget, Broncos Head Coach Mike Shanahan got his coaching start at the University of Oklahoma in 1975. Back then, OU didn't run the type of diversified, sophisticated offense as it does today, with two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks in four seaons. In that era, the Sooners were in the throes of a generation of teams that ran ... and ran ... and ran. Nimble, agile quarterbacks like J.C. Watts and Jamelle Holieway pitched to swift runners such as Billy Sims. For two years, in 1975 and 1976, Shanahan was a part of this on the ground floor of the OU staff as a graduate assistant.

Denver's D Slams Door Shut on Colts' Explosive Attack - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Monday, December 22, 2003 - The Colts have brandished perhaps the most consistently effective offense in the NFL over the past five years. But against the Broncos, the speedy, field-stretching offense was slowed to a crawl, bogging down in the swamp that is the Broncos defense.

Denver 31, Indianapolis 17 - MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer
December 22, 2003 - Clinton Portis just knew his teammates would take Denver into the playoffs. Quentin Griffin, Mike Anderson and Jake Plummer didn't disappoint. With an injured Portis cheering from the sideline, Griffin ran for 136 yards, Anderson added 56 yards and a touchdown and Plummer ran for two scores as the Broncos' pounded Indianapolis 31-17. "I think I'm playing for my job," Portis joked. "These guys went out and played great."

Broncos-Colts Notebook: Plummer Shines - Denver Broncos.com - Andrew Mason
Sunday, December 21, 2003 - The night couldn't have started any worse for quarterback Jake Plummer, as his first pass of the evening was intercepted by Gary Brackett and returned 31 yards for a touchdown. But it's doubtful that anyone could have responded any better to the early adversity than the Broncos' No. 16. A week after making a late-game comeback against the Cleveland Browns, he made it early against the Indianapolis Colts, turning around on the next play from scrimmage and completing a 60-yard heave down the right sideline for Ashley Lelie. Five plays later, Mike Anderson scored the Broncos' first touchdown.

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