Droughns, Broncos down Panthers

With another big fourth quarter performance, the Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers 20-17 behind a 193 yard day by running back Reuben Droughns. Read how the Broncos overcame mistakes with big plays and a stellar performance by Droughns as he started for the first time.

Back and fourth - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
Monday, October 11, 2004 - John Lynch has been around this type of football before. He feels at home with this punch-you-in-the-chops defense and timely, game-changing offense. With Tampa Bay, Lynch won a Super Bowl playing "just-enough" football. Lynch loved being a part of it then, and in his first year in Denver, he is thrilled to be doing it again. "We seem to be thriving off this fourth-quarter deal," Lynch said Sunday after the Broncos' 20-17 victory over Carolina at Invesco Field at Mile High. "We're getting these close wins, and we're building something here in the process. We're getting a good chemistry going."

Plummer has backers in his own revolution - Denver Post - Mark Kiszla
Monday, October 11, 2004 - Proving love counts more than money, and friendship can endure beyond death, Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer defied a league edict and adorned his helmet with a decal honoring late NFL star Pat Tillman. Then, Plummer went out and beat Carolina 20-17, overcoming a costly interception to rally Denver with a fourth-quarter comeback. It was the second-bravest thing Plummer did Sunday.

Back takes opportunity, runs for 193 yards/a> - Denver Post - Patrick Saunders
Monday, October 11, 2004 - The Broncos let the genie out of the bottle, and the
Carolina Panthers felt his wrath. For four seasons and four games, Reuben Droughns has been a kickoff returner and special-teams headhunter, only occasionally a ball carrier. On Sunday, the Broncos gave him the ball and told him to work his magic. Substituting for starting tailback Quentin Griffin, who was a game-day scratch with a sprained ankle, Droughns pounded the Panthers for 193 yards on 30 carries.

For Lelie, numbers can lie - Denver Post - Adrian Dater
Monday, October 11, 2004 - Ashley Lelie is showing he can grab lots of attention - if not a lot of passes. The Broncos' third-year wide receiver entered Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers averaging three catches per game, and he fell one short of that in Denver's 20-17 victory. But, as has been the case the past three weeks, Lelie was instrumental in arguably the game's biggest play.

Chase distracts Peppers while running to daylight - Denver Post
Monday, October 11, 2004 - The next time Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers hears he should run to daylight, he probably will remember his run toward the south end zone Sunday at Invesco Field at Mile High. The good part of the memory will be his 101-yard gallop down the sideline after he intercepted a pass in the end zone. The bad part will be tripping at the Broncos' 3-yard line with Rod Smith in pursuit.

Backup defenders earn their pay - Denver Post - Joseph Sanchez
Monday, October 11, 2004 - For the Denver Broncos, it might have been the play that saved the day. Down 20-17 late in the fourth quarter, the Carolina Panthers had moved into scoring position on a face-mask penalty and a 23-yard sideline pass, and they were facing third-and-9 at the Denver 25. Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme dropped back to pass, but just as he was about to throw, a couple of Broncos backups - defensive tackle Luther Elliss and linebacker Patrick Chukwurah - were all over him.

Penalty flurry flattens charge - Denver Post - Irv Moss
Monday, October 11, 2004 - Frustration, meltdown, malfunction. From Carolina coach John Fox on down, there was a different word to describe a sequence late in the fourth quarter Sunday that erased a chance to tie the game. But there was no argument about a penalty that shouldn't have happened. Instead of John Kasay attempting a 42-yard field goal while the Panthers trailed 20-17, Carolina had to punt from the Denver 45. From there, the Broncos ran out the clock.

Pryce on target for return - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
Monday, October 11, 2004 - Wearing a Broncos T-shirt and sweats on game day is not an ideal situation for Trevor Pryce, a player who went five years without missing a game. However, standing on the sideline is tolerable now for Pryce. For three weeks, the star defensive end didn't know what was wrong with him.

Feat on ground - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
October 11, 2004 - Facing a menu of shrinking possibilities at running back, the Broncos ordered up a Reuben on Sunday and left the table happy, content and still in first place in the AFC West. "I knew he could do that - I did. I don't know if anyone else did, but I did," Broncos fullback Kyle Johnson said. "In the Denver Broncos offense, he can do it. He can make the cuts, he has the speed, he can do what needs to be done." With Mike Anderson out for the season, rookie Tatum Bell trying to fight his way back from injuries that have slowed his progress and leading rusher Quentin Griffin not in uniform because of a sprained left ankle, the Broncos simply turned to Reuben Droughns.

Lincicome: Team with fewest boneheaded plays wins - Rocky Mountain News - Bernie Lincicome
October 11, 2004 - When dumb beats dumber, it is better to be dumb. Let's see. How did Jake Plummer put it? "You just can't make stupid, bonehead plays," Plummer said. "I will stop doing that." A promise is as good as truth when the other team takes points off the scoreboard by stupidity. Otherwise, the Broncos and the Panthers might still be playing football.

Krieger: Understudy should get the leading role - Rocky Mountain News - Dave Krieger
October 11, 2004 - He wasn't even on the ballot when the season began, but he just got elected, anyway. The Broncos found their every-down running back Sunday. Just in time, too. Reuben Droughns is 26 years old, but he approached the podium giggling like a school kid after waiting five years for the first breakout game of a previously unnoticed pro football career.

Running with opportunity - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
October 11, 2004 - One more first down would clinch a victory. So Reuben Droughns steeled himself for one final fourth-quarter carry. "If I had to just keep my legs pumping or run somebody over, I was going to get that first down," the Denver Broncos running back recalled thinking late in the fourth quarter. "Nobody out there was going to stop me." The Carolina Panthers certainly weren't. They hadn't all afternoon.

Walls puts lessons to use in his return - Rocky Mountain News - Pat Rooney
October 11, 2004 - For the past month, Lenny Walls has done his best to make the most of a bad situation. Sidelined since the season opener because of a separated right shoulder, Walls returned to the Denver Broncos secondary Sunday to contribute to his team's 20-17 win against the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers. It was new territory for the third-year cornerback, who appeared in 13 games during his rookie campaign two years ago and all 16 games last year. But Walls didn't pass the time while his shoulder healed cursing his fate.

Broncos pass busters earning accolades - Rocky Mountain News - Pat Rooney
October 11, 2004 - Make no mistake: Veteran defensive backs Champ Bailey and John Lynch have made a significant difference on the Denver Broncos defense. Both are impact players who have provided a level of veteran leadership previously missing from the talented but sometimes inconsistent defense. Their additions have transformed the Broncos defense into one of the elite pass defense groups in the NFL, a reputation that was enhanced during the team's 20-17 win against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Plummer picks on himself a bit - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
October 11, 2004 - Give Jake Plummer this: His interceptions might be rare this season, but they have been memorable. The previous time an opponent had picked off one of his passes entering Sunday was in the season opener against Kansas City on Sept. 12, when, backed up on the Broncos goal line, the right-hander threw a left-handed toss into the arms of Chiefs linebacker Shawn Barber.

Carolina's Willig takes blame for penalty - Rocky Mountain News - Brad Byler
October 11, 2004 - Matt Willig sat in front of his dressing stall in the visitors dressing room at Invesco Field late Sunday afternoon, started to put on a sock, then stopped and put his face in his hands for several seconds. It was, perhaps, the hardest day the 13-year NFL lineman had faced. His 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty late in the Panthers' 20-17 loss to the Denver Broncos took Carolina out of range for a tying field-goal attempt with 6 minutes, 53 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Carolina never got another opportunity to score.

Fine decision? QB still sticks with No. 40 - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer And Jeff Legwold
October 11, 2004 - The more Jake Plummer thought about his decision to remove the "40" sticker on his helmet for the Tampa Bay game Oct. 3 under pressure from the NFL, the more aggravated he got. So before Sunday's game, he removed the decal that honors his friend and former teammate Pat Tillman he had transferred to his shoulder pads for the Bucs game and affixed it again to his helmet, knowing full well the consequences.

Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Pantherss - DenverBroncos.com
Sunday, October 10, 2004 - Before kickoff to the Week 5 contest, Head Coach Mike Shanahan announced the following deactivated players: Sam Brandon, Cornell Green, Quentin Griffin, Darius Holland, Anton Palepoi, Trevor Pryce, Jeff Shoate and Jashon Sykes. Starting in place of Griffin at running back was Reuben Droughns and earning the start in place of Droughns at fullback was Kyle Johnson. The Panthers were without key players as well as wide receiver Steve Smith, running back Stephen Davis, kick returner Rod Smart and defensive tackle Brentson Buckner were all inactive for Carolina.

Attack of the Droughns - DenverBroncos.com
Sunday, October 10, 2004 - Reuben Droughns spent most of a brillant Sunday afternoon slamming through the Carolina Panthers defense, wearing in down in perhaps the most dominating fashion imaginable. He repeatedly broke tackles. He never lost yardage on any of his 30 carries, and never even had a run that resulted in no gain. And at one point in the fourth quarter, running the ball on eight of nine plays as the Broncos clinched a win by draining over six minutes from the clock late in the fourth quarter for a second consecutive week.

Building Character - DenverBroncos.com - James Merilatt
Sunday, October 10, 2004 - It was a play that was ready to make its way onto a very dubious list. It would have sat right there alongside Rod Woodson's 98-yard interception return for a touchdown in November 2002 and Chris McAlister's 107-yard return of a missed field goal earlier that same season – two plays that changed the course for Denver that year. It would have been listed with Dante Hall's 93-yard interception return, the 59-yard touchdown pass that Randy Moss lateraled to Moe Williams and the Patriots intentionally taking a safety last season to help set the stage for their late-game rally – three plays that were critical in determining the Broncos fate in 2003. The next addition could have been Julius Pepper's 101-yard return of a Jake Plummer interception on Sunday.

Something to Prove - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Sunday, October 10, 2004 - Neither Reuben Droughns nor Kyle Johnson are the bitter, grudge-holding type. Droughns is perhaps the most vibrant, enthusiastic personality in the Broncos' locker room, while the equally congenial Johnson is commonly the last player on the practice field, whether it's the regular season or an offseason workout, going over assignments and duties with teammates. But both know what it's like to feel the lowest of lows in professional football. Both were not only cast aside by their first NFL clubs, but those clubs who didn't want them were enduring some of the most wretched on-field stretches in recent NFL history.

Broncos-Panthers Notebook: Another Big Catch for Lelie - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Sunday, October 10, 2004 - Ashley Lelie had done his part. The points that resulted from his 39-yard touchdown catch 5:18 into the fourth quarter were already on the scoreboard, and he was certain he'd made the over-the-shoulder catch of the gently arcing pass from quarterback Jake Plummer. But Carolina challenged the play, claiming that Lelie did not get both feet inbounds in the southwest corner of the end zone before making the grab just a step beyond Panthers cornerback Ricky Manning, Jr. And with every second that referee Larry Nemmers spent underneath the replay contraption's cloak, a tinge of uncertainty began to grow as to whether he'd actually completed the catch.

The Mark of Greatness - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Sunday, October 10, 2004 - In the length of time it took for an errant Jake Plummer pass to fly beyond Kyle Johnson, short of Dwayne Carswell and into the hands of Carolina's Julius Peppers, the Broncos went from the brink of domination to the precipice of disaster. The Broncos strode to the line of scrimmage on that third-quarter, fourth-and-one play looking to strike the blow that could put the Panthers down two scores on a day when their running back stable was exhausted by injuries. But seconds later, a chance for a comfortable margin turned into a certain four-point deficit.

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