Broncos Tackle an Old Rival

The Denver Broncos make it four straight home opening wins with a 34-24 win over their AFC West rival Kansas City Chiefs.

Clinton Portis or  Quentin Griffin, does it really matter?

Evidentially not for the Denver Broncos.

Portis rushed for 148-yards and one touchdown in his Washington Redskins debut, while former teammate Quentin Griffen collected 156-yards and three touchdowns in his Broncos debut, helping lead Denver to a 34-24 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the first game of the 2004 season.

Griffin's starting performance will hopefully put an end to the question as to whether or not the Broncos made a mistake in giving up Portis during the off-season.

"To come out and get a big victory at home against a team like Kansas City is obviously a huge deal for us," said Griffen.

A huge deal indeed, especially when you consider the Chiefs are Denver's biggest rivals in the heated AFC West.

"When you play Kansas City it's a heavyweight fight," said head coach Mike Shanahan. "They are an excellent football team, very well coached. It was back and forth throughout the whole game. Both teams made some mistakes but you saw both teams compete for 60-mintues."

Amid the competition was an NFL officiating crew almost worthy of league sanctions.

On Kansas City's initial possession, Trent Green connected on a 57-yard pass play to Eddie Kennison. The former Bronco ran the ball to the Broncos 20-yard line where he slipped on the turf and fell to the ground. Since he was untouched Kennison got up and proceeded to run, when he was hit from behind by linebacker Al Wilson, forcing the ball loose. The fumble, which was recovered by the Broncos, was overturned by the officials, ruling that Kennison was down by contact where he initially fell.

Replays clearly showed that no one had touched Kennison when he initially fell, but a down by contact rule is not a challengeable call and the play stood as called.

The drive led to the Chiefs first score of the game. a two-yard run by Priest Holmes, as Kansas City opened up a 7-0 lead.

"With the replay, if you're not really sure what happened then they don't blow the whistle," said Shanahan. "If you're sure then you call their guy down. It's not reviewable if you call the guy down. In the officials opinion the wide receiver that caught the ball fumbled after he was on the ground. You can't review it and you go from there."

 Down early the Broncos responded with a 47-yard Jason Elam field goal, then countered with a Plummer to Griffin 1-yard touchdown toss to give Denver a 10-7 lead.

That lead increased midway through the second quarter when Griffin juked his way past several Kansas City defenders on his way to a 25-yard touchdown run, giving the Broncos a 17-7 second quarter lead.

As the first half came to a close officials once again showed their ineptness.

With three seconds remaining Chiefs quarterback Trent Green threw an incomplete pass but Broncos lineman Raylee Johnson was flagged for offsides before the snap. With the ball at the Denver 45-yard line, Kansas City attempted a 63-yard field goal, which fell short. As both teams retreated to their respective locker rooms officials called them back, realizing that they had not advanced the ball the five-yards on Johnson's offside penalty.

The Chiefs second attempt, this one from Denver's 40-yard line, had enough distance but strayed to the right leaving the score at 17-7 in Denver's favor.

Two second half interceptions gave Kansas City the momentum they needed to tie the score at 17-17 and from that point on it became a shootout, with Denver regaining the lead on a 47-yard Griffen touchdown run.

The Chiefs responded with a 33-yard Priest Holes touchdown, his third of the game, with just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Elam broke the 24-24 tie in the fourth quarter with his second field goal of the evening, this on from 45-yards out as Denver held a slim 27-24 fourth quarter lead.

With 9:22 remaining in the game Denver took possession on a Kansas City punt, marching 87-yards in 13-plays, culminating with a Plummer to Patrick Hape touchdown pass from two-yards out. The scoring drive ate over seven minutes off the clock leaving Kansas City very little time to overcome the 34-24 defecit.

"Everyone did what they had to for us to start on top. It was a big win," wide receiver Rod Smith said.

"I think the crowd noise really helped them," said Chiefs quarterback Trent Green. "They were able to come off of the edges and forced me to step up into the pocket, and obviously, that shrinks it even tighter.  There just wasn't any separation.  Overall, they had a great game plan and did a good job."

The win ties Denver with the San Diego Chargers for first place in the AFC West.

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