Big win just in time for Broncos

Heading into the bye week with another loss was not what the Denver Broncos needed. No problem, however, as they took care of business against the Houston Texans 31-13 on Sunday. The defense was back to its old self, the good Jake showed up, and Rod Smith etched his name in the record book.

Saved and sound - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
Monday, November 08, 2004 - It was on the minds of the Broncos all week: Don't mess up the bye week. Don't let it snowball. Don't fall to 5-4. The Broncos' coaching staff and players knew the consequences. The swing was dramatic. They couldn't lose to the Houston Texans. They couldn't go from 5-1 to 5-4 in a matter of 14 days. They couldn't ruin the bye week. They couldn't ruin the season. "Losing this game and going from 6-3 to 5-4 at the bye would have been horrible," said Denver defensive tackle Luther Elliss, a 10-year veteran. "The difference on this team right now is enormous because of what we did." What the Broncos did Sunday was save their season. Coming off two self-destructive defeats in a row, they hammered the dangerous Texans 31-13 at Invesco Field at Mile High.

Smith already has his stamp of success - Denver Post - Mark Kiszla
Monday, November 08, 2004 - Rod Smith does not need a trophy case for the single piece of memorabilia that defines him. For the No. 1 receiver in Broncos history, this faded piece of script is more valuable than any of his 677 career receptions, 56 touchdowns or even those two precious Super Bowl rings. What is it? A food stamp. "That food stamp will always be with me. It's not going anywhere. I keep it in my house, as a reminder of where I came from. We started with nothing, so we can't lose," Smith said Sunday, while walking down a back hallway in a stadium where more than 70,000 spectators had cheered his name to salute one of the more unlikely success stories in NFL annals.

Broncos receptive to Plummer spreading production - Denver Post - Mike Chambers
Monday, November 08, 2004 - Jake Plummer's four touchdown passes and 137.8 quarterback rating Sunday only begins to describe the efficient air attack used by the Broncos to rout the Houston Texas 31-13. Seven Denver players combined for 16 catches. And two wide receivers, a tight end and a fullback accounted for the touchdowns.

Little by little, Jake reinvents - Denver Post - Jim Armstrong
Monday, November 08, 2004 - We'll get to the big plays in a minute. If it's all the same, we begin this morning with one of Jake Plummer's little plays. Little plays, as opposed to bad ones. Trouble is, Plummer always has considered them one and the same. Eight years into a checkered career, bigger remains better to Jake the Snake. It's his fault and his forte. He's the Thomas Edison of NFL quarterbacks. When a big play isn't there, he invents one. Not Sunday. Not with the Broncos facing a third-and-3 on their 25 late in the second quarter. As Plummer dropped back to pass, 70,000-plus people held their breath in nervous anticipation. Force of habit, given his previous two games.

Johnson's first NFL score something to talk about - Denver Post
Monday, November 08, 2004 - Denver fullback Kyle Johnson couldn't wait to call his father Sunday night. It goes back to when Johnson was 8 years old. When Johnson scored his first NFL touchdown Sunday - a 23-yard pass from Jake Plummer in the third quarter - he thought of his father, Kenneth Johnson.

Defense bounces back after losses - Denver Post - Patrick Saunders
Monday, November 08, 2004 - In the tunnel outside the Broncos' locker room Sunday afternoon, a satisfied Larry Coyer lit his trademark pipe and contemplated the essential question. It was the one that asked how the Broncos could give up 467 yards to the Atlanta Falcons in a 41-28 loss a week earlier, then rebound with a performance that limited the talented Houston Texans' offense to 331 yards in Denver's 31-13 victory. "Well, first of all, people don't need to get too uptight," the defensive coordinator said with a chuckle. Translation: Coyer believed in his defense even when it was mired in a two-game slump and was swamped by waves of criticism.

Bailey Texans' biggest pain - Denver Post - Joseph Sanchez
Monday, November 08, 2004 - For the Houston Texans, their futility could be explained in two plays Sunday in their 31-13 loss to the Broncos. The first was a fourth-and-1 at midfield early in the second quarter that the Texans failed to convert when quarterback David Carr was stopped cold by linebackers Donnie Spragan and Al Wilson. The second was a deep throw down the left sideline late in the fourth quarter in one last desperate attempt to get the ball to wide receiver Andre Johnson, who had been blanketed by cornerback Champ Bailey all day. Throwing into a relentless Broncos pass rush, Carr missed him badly, sailing the ball well over Johnson's head and out of bounds.

Big sigh of relief - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
November 8, 2004 - Faced with the prospect of foul moods, extra practice and just plain bad karma, the Denver Broncos finished off the Houston Texans on Sunday with the zeal of a team that didn't want to see what the alternative might look like. "Man, if we would have lost this one, we would have been out there practicing all week, feeling bad because we lost three (games) in a row, just knowing we let a lot of things slip away," Broncos safety Kenoy Kennedy said. "Instead, we get a win, some days off and now we are in a position where we can come back ready to make a big push." AdvertisementSo when they giddily rehashed their 31-13 win against the Texans at Invesco Field at Mile High, the Broncos found themselves with a share of the AFC West lead at 6-3, headed into a bye week having been given plenty of days off by coach Mike Shanahan.

Lincicome: Broncos make turnabout for the better - Rocky Mountain News - Bernie Lincicome
November 8, 2004 - And, just like that, the world is right side up. This column comes with caution. The last time the Broncos looked this good, forcing praise and encouraging expectation, they immediately dived face-first under passing trucks named Cincinnati and Atlanta. The last time Jake Plummer threw four touchdown passes, he had to endure the greatest doubt of any time since he has been in Denver.

Krieger: Plummer takes the good with the bad - Rocky Mountain News - Dave Krieger
November 8, 2004 - The Two Jakes wasn't much of a movie, but then, it didn't have Jake Plummer for inspiration. In fact, without the Broncos' two Jakes, the movie pretty much ended Jack Nicholson's directing career. But hey, if they can remake The In-Laws while Peter Falk and Alan Arkin are still very much alive, they can remake The Two Jakes with Plummer in both roles. Good Jake is not a Fake or a Flake. He throws four touchdowns and no interceptions, as he did in Sunday's rout of the Houston Texans. Bad Jake is not a Snake or a Rake. He throws four touchdowns but also three interceptions, as he did a week ago against the Atlanta Falcons. He puts up big numbers but makes just enough boneheaded plays to lose. This is not my assessment. It's his.

Lawless Texans boon to Broncos - Rocky Mountain News - Brad Byler
November 8, 2004 - The Denver Broncos had grown accustomed to seeing opponents' "A" games in the previous two weeks as their successful 5-1 start withered to a disappointing 5-3 mark. Not so Sunday. While Denver rediscovered some of the poise and discipline that had been missing in two consecutive losses, the Houston Texans unraveled under a slew of costly penalties. The penalties, nine in all for 109 yards, helped the Broncos bury the Texans in the first half at Invesco Field at Mile High. "I'm disappointed in the way we played," Houston coach Dom Capers said. "I felt that we were ready coming in here, and we weren't."

Denver's defensive line in familiar form - Rocky Mountain News - Pat Rooney
November 8, 2004 - The sight of Houston Texans quarterback David Carr standing tall in the pocket was a welcome relief to the Denver Broncos defensive front. Never mind that Carr is enjoying the best season of his three-year career. The Broncos defenders were left dizzy last week in the wake of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, and the presence of a more stationary Carr allowed Denver to pin its collective ears back and unleash a pass rush that had been missing during the losses of the previous two weeks. The Broncos sacked Carr four times during their 31-13 win Sunday at Invesco Field. It was the third time this season the Broncos had posted at least four sacks in a game. The three games resulted in a few of the Broncos' most one-sided wins of the year - against San Diego on Sept. 26 (26-13), at Oakland on Oct. 17 (31-3) and Sunday against the Texans.

Do-it-all Smith now No. 1 - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
November 8, 2004 - One of Rod Smith's signature lines when the media approaches his locker each week inevitably is an exasperated "Whatcha want?" Actually, it's a question that's come to define the receiver's 10 NFL seasons in Denver. "Whatcha want?" Blocking? Leadership? Clutch catches? Smith has done whatever has been required since cracking the roster as an undrafted rookie from Missouri Southern State in 1995 after spending a year on the Broncos practice squad. His combined talent and effort that includes a perfect attendance record in off-season workouts is a coach's dream. On Sunday, Smith was able to be a little greedy after all that unselfish play - but declined.

Bailey gets lockdown act back - Rocky Mountain News - Pat Rooney
November 8, 2004 - During this past week, Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson called Broncos defensive back Champ Bailey "probably the top corner in the league." Johnson might have psyched himself out somewhat, as Bailey's lockdown routine highlighted the Broncos' best defensive effort in three games during Sunday's 31-13 win against the Texans. Johnson, who came into the game with 42 receptions for 665 yards and four touchdowns, finished with only three receptions for 28 yards. Johnson also dropped two passes and was outperformed in the receiving game by Broncos backup fullback Kyle Johnson, whose three receptions were good for 46 yards and a touchdown.

Plummer's play should turn down the volume - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
November 8, 2004 - There was a different look to Jake Plummer on Sunday. And it wasn't just the scraggly beard he's sporting. He threw four touchdown passes for the second consecutive week, but the ill-advised mistakes he had made during Denver's two-game losing streak disappeared. The switch in Plummer's fortunes mirrored his team's, as Denver dominated the Houston Texans 31-13 at Invesco Field. With the Broncos heading into their bye week, the performance by the Denver quarterback takes him at least a couple weeks away from the scrutiny and fan vitriol that had accompanied his five-interception stretch in losses to Atlanta and Cincinnati the previous two games.

Big lead puts Droughns in a second-half groove - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer And Jeff Legwold
November 8, 2004 - The second half has been a lonely spot for Reuben Droughns the past couple of weeks. But the Denver Broncos running back was able to return to his workhorse role in the final two quarters of Sunday's 31-13 victory. Droughns carried 17 times for 75 yards after the break and helped bring a sense of balance back to a Broncos attack that was unable to mix run and pass because of large deficits after halftime during its two-game losing streak. He finished with his fourth 100-yard game in five starts, gaining 120 yards on 29 carries.

Plummer bounces back with big game - Daily Camera - Zak Brown
November 8, 2004 - Despite his backwoods beard and long hair, Jake Plummer does have feelings beneath his gruff Idaho exterior. He also has games to win and teammates to lead. So when he walked off the field Sunday after leading his Denver Bronco teammates to a 31-13 win over the Houston Texans at Invesco Field with no interceptions, he was happy with his team's result, and less concerned with his performance.

Broncos mess with Texans - Daily Camera - Zak Brown
November 8, 2004 - If the Denver Broncos were going to remain No. 1 in the AFC West, they were going to have to stop losing to No. 1 draft picks. They couldn't stop Carson Palmer, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2003, from leading the Cincinnati Bengals to a win on Monday night two weeks ago. They couldn't stop Atlanta's Michael Vick, the No. 1 overall pick in 2001, from turning Halloween into a nightmare for Denver last week. Meanwhile, the team that traded away the pick for Vick was picking up steam and matching the Broncos 5-3 record.

Carr crash: Denver gets four sacks - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
November 8, 2004 - The Broncos were in a serious sack slump entering Sunday's game at Invesco Field. Denver's defense, despite being ranked No. 4 overall in the league, was tied for 17th in sacks with only 15 at the midpoint of the season. Reggie Hayward was the team leader with 2.5, but hadn't brought a quarterback down behind the line of scrimmage since Sept. 26.

Thorburn: Smith earns spot among Bronco greats - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
November 8, 2004 - John Elway. Terrell Davis. Shannon Sharpe. Ed McCaffrey. If a Mount Rushmore-style tribute to the Denver Broncos' triumphant Super Bowl teams would have been commissioned five years ago, the above would have been the busts of choice based on fan voting. Elway is obviously the greatest and most beloved player in franchise history. Davis was the most dominant running back in the league during the back-to-back titles. Sharpe backed up all the smack with amazing statistics and will join No. 7 in Canton when the tight end becomes eligible. And McCaffrey's bruising style of play and bright smile made him one of the most popular athletes in the city's history.

Climb to playoffs takes detour in Denver drubbing - Houston Chronicle - Carlton Thompson
Nov. 8, 2004 - Losers of their first two games, the Texans were faced in September with quite a mountain to scale, not just to establish credibility with their fans and the rest of the NFL but to save the season. They responded with four victories in five games, then covered their ears as those around them talked playoffs. Texans coach Dom Capers refused to participate in that conversation and reminded his players to have the focus of a tightrope walker because anything less would result in an ugly fall. The spill sure is nasty from a mile high. The previously red-hot Texans waltzed into Invesco Field, needing a victory to move into a first-place tie with Jacksonville in the AFC South. Instead, they got the backside of the Denver Broncos' hand in a 31-13 smackdown that likely will dampen talk of the postseason.

Denver 31, Houston 13 - Yahoo.com
November 7, 2004 - Rod Smith caught the history-making touchdown, turned to the stands and handed the ball to his sister. For the hard-working Broncos receiver, that was about as big as the celebration would get. Smith became Denver's career leader in both receptions and touchdown catches Sunday and Jake Plummer threw for four scores to help the Broncos snap a two-game losing streak with a 31-13 victory over the Houston Texans. "It's a privilege to be on the same field as that guy," Plummer said of Smith, a 10-year veteran who started out as an undrafted rookie and spent his first year on Denver's practice squad.

Defense Rises to Occasion Against Texans - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Monday, November 8, 2004 - Two weeks of struggles didn't shake defensive coordinator Larry Coyer's confidence in his charges. Sunday, that confidence was rewarded. Coyer's defense didn't post the kind of statistically dominating day it displayed during earlier games against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders, when it held the opposition below 200 total yards. But it was dominant when the situation demanded it.

Denver Broncos vs. Houston Texans - DenverBroncos.com
Sunday, November 07, 2004 - Before the start of Denver's game against Houston, Head Coach Mike Shanahan deactivated the following players: Triandos Luke, Jeff Shoate, John Lynch, Jashon Sykes, Cornell Green, Darius Holland, Trevor Pryce and Raylee Johnson. Houston won the coin toss and received the opening kickoff. The game began with a temperature of 69 degrees and a humidity level of 11 percent.

Broncos-Texans Notebook: For the Record - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Sunday, November 7, 2004 - If you're going to break one record, why not break another? Rod Smith came into Sunday's game with the Texans just two receptions and one touchdown shy of holding Broncos all-time records for both. He took care of both in the second quarter, passing Shannon Sharpe in each category. First, Smith became the team's all-time leader in receptions with a 9-yard grab 2:34 into the second quarter, giving him 676 career receptions. Eleven minutes and 54 seconds later, he added the second record to his history-making afternoon, breaking open in the back left corner of the end zone to haul in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Jake Plummer -- the team's third touchdown catch of the afternoon and Smith's 56th in his 10-year career.

Jake Strikes Back - DenverBroncos.com - James Merilatt
Sunday, November 7, 2004 - Last Sunday, Jake Plummer threw for a franchise record 499 yards and four touchdowns. But the Broncos lost to the Atlanta Falcons 41-28, due in part to the Denver quarterback's three interceptions. So instead of reading headlines on Monday morning signing his praises, Plummer awoke to stories calling for his job. Such is the life of the starting quarterback in the Mile High City. All week long, the questions have dogged him. And for seven days, he stood up and faced the music. He talked about bouncing back, something he's always done during his football career – high school, college and pro. On Sunday against the Houston Texans, Plummer finally got the chance. The barrage of questions from reporters was over. It was finally just time to play football.

Dancin' Machine - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Sunday, November 7, 2004 - Kyle Johnson had a hunch that his post-touchdown jig would cause a stir. He just didn't know how big it would be. As he answered questions from a few media members in the locker room, quarterback Jake Plummer walked in, having just completed his press conference in the adjacent interview room. "They asked about the dance, man," Plummer informed Johnson from a few locker stalls away. Johnson was stunned. "They asked you about mine? What for?" he replied! "I've got better stuff than that. I could have gotten on ESPN!" He made it there anyway. The dance that followed the first touchdown of his NFL career at first seemed to resemble Adam Sandler's post-putt bull dance in Happy Gilmore. Like the title character, Johnson was "feeling the flow; working it," as Kevin Nealon opined.

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Mile High Huddle Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"Saved and sound -
Monday, November 08, 2004 - It was on the minds of the Broncos all week: Don't mess up the bye week. Don't let it snowball. Don't fall to 5-4. The Broncos' coaching staff and players knew the consequences. The swing was dramatic. They couldn't lose to the Houston Texans. They couldn't go from 5-1 to 5-4 in a matter of 14 days. They couldn't ruin the bye week. They couldn't ruin the season. \"Losing this game and going from 6-3 to 5-4 at the bye would have been horrible,\" said Denver defensive tackle Luther Elliss, a 10-year veteran. \"The difference on this team right now is enormous because of what we did.\" What the Broncos did Sunday was save their season. Coming off two self-destructive defeats in a row, they hammered the dangerous Texans 31-13 at Invesco Field at Mile High.

Smith already has his stamp of success -
Monday, November 08, 2004 - Rod Smith does not need a trophy case for the single piece of memorabilia that defines him. For the No. 1 receiver in Broncos history, this faded piece of script is more valuable than any of his 677 career receptions, 56 touchdowns or even those two precious Super Bowl rings. What is it? A food stamp. \"That food stamp will always be with me. It's not going anywhere. I keep it in my house, as a reminder of where I came from. We started with nothing, so we can't lose,\" Smith said Sunday, while walking down a back hallway in a stadium where more than 70,000 spectators had cheered his name to salute one of the more unlikely success stories in NFL annals.

Broncos receptive to Plummer spreading production -
Monday, November 08, 2004 - Jake Plummer's four touchdown passes and 137.8 quarterback rating Sunday only begins to describe the efficient air attack used by the Broncos to rout the Houston Texas 31-13. Seven Denver players combined for 16 catches. And two wide receivers, a tight end and a fullback accounted for the touchdowns.

Little by little, Jake reinvents -
Monday, November 08, 2004 - We'll get to the big plays in a minute. If it's all the same, we begin this morning with one of Jake Plummer's little plays. Little plays, as opposed to bad ones. Trouble is, Plummer always has considered them one and the same. Eight years into a checkered career, bigger remains better to Jake the Snake. It's his fault and his forte. He's the Thomas Edison of NFL quarterbacks. When a big play isn't there, he invents one. Not Sunday. Not with the Broncos facing a third-and-3 on their 25 late in the second quarter. As Plummer dropped back to pass, 70,000-plus people held their breath in nervous anticipation. Force of habit, given his previous two games.

Johnson's first NFL score something to talk about -
Monday, November 08, 2004 - Denver fullback Kyle Johnson couldn't wait to call his father Sunday night. It goes back to when Johnson was 8 years old. When Johnson scored his first NFL touchdown Sunday - a 23-yard pass from Jake Plummer in the third quarter - he thought of his father, Kenneth Johnson.

Defense bounces back after losses -
Monday, November 08, 2004 - In the tunnel outside the Broncos' locker room Sunday afternoon, a satisfied Larry Coyer lit his trademark pipe and contemplated the essential question. It was the one that asked how the Broncos could give up 467 yards to the Atlanta Falcons in a 41-28 loss a week earlier, then rebound with a performance that limited the talented Houston Texans' offense to 331 yards in Denver's 31-13 victory. \"Well, first of all, people don't need to get too uptight,\" the defensive coordinator said with a chuckle. Translation: Coyer believed in his defense even when it was mired in a two-game slump and was swamped by waves of criticism.

Bailey Texans' biggest pain -
Monday, November 08, 2004 - For the Houston Texans, their futility could be explained in two plays Sunday in their 31-13 loss to the Broncos. The first was a fourth-and-1 at midfield early in the second quarter that the Texans failed to convert when quarterback David Carr was stopped cold by linebackers Donnie Spragan and Al Wilson. The second was a deep throw down the left sideline late in the fourth quarter in one last desperate attempt to get the ball to wide receiver Andre Johnson, who had been blanketed by cornerback Champ Bailey all day. Throwing into a relentless Broncos pass rush, Carr missed him badly, sailing the ball well over Johnson's head and out of bounds.

Big sigh of relief -
November 8, 2004 - Faced with the prospect of foul moods, extra practice and just plain bad karma, the Denver Broncos finished off the Houston Texans on Sunday with the zeal of a team that didn't want to see what the alternative might look like. \"Man, if we would have lost this one, we would have been out there practicing all week, feeling bad because we lost three (games) in a row, just knowing we let a lot of things slip away,\" Broncos safety Kenoy Kennedy said. \"Instead, we get a win, some days off and now we are in a position where we can come back ready to make a big push.\" AdvertisementSo when they giddily rehashed their 31-13 win against the Texans at Invesco Field at Mile High, the Broncos found themselves with a share of the AFC West lead at 6-3, headed into a bye week having been given plenty of days off by coach Mike Shanahan.

Lincicome: Broncos make turnabout for the better -
November 8, 2004 - And, just like that, the world is right side up. This column comes with caution. The last time the Broncos looked this good, forcing praise and encouraging expectation, they immediately dived face-first under passing trucks named Cincinnati and Atlanta. The last time Jake Plummer threw four touchdown passes, he had to endure the greatest doubt of any time since he has been in Denver.

Krieger: Plummer takes the good with the bad -
November 8, 2004 - The Two Jakes wasn't much of a movie, but then, it didn't have Jake Plummer for inspiration. In fact, without the Broncos' two Jakes, the movie pretty much ended Jack Nicholson's directing career. But hey, if they can remake The In-Laws while Peter Falk and Alan Arkin are still very much alive, they can remake The Two Jakes with Plummer in both roles. Good Jake is not a Fake or a Flake. He throws four touchdowns and no interceptions, as he did in Sunday's rout of the Houston Texans. Bad Jake is not a Snake or a Rake. He throws four touchdowns but also three interceptions, as he did a week ago against the Atlanta Falcons. He puts up big numbers but makes just enough boneheaded plays to lose. This is not my assessment. It's his.

Lawless Texans boon to Broncos -
November 8, 2004 - The Denver Broncos had grown accustomed to seeing opponents' \"A\" games in the previous two weeks as their successful 5-1 start withered to a disappointing 5-3 mark. Not so Sunday. While Denver rediscovered some of the poise and discipline that had been missing in two consecutive losses, the Houston Texans unraveled under a slew of costly penalties. The penalties, nine in all for 109 yards, helped the Broncos bury the Texans in the first half at Invesco Field at Mile High. \"I'm disappointed in the way we played,\" Houston coach Dom Capers said. \"I felt that we were ready coming in here, and we weren't.\"

Denver's defensive line in familiar form -
November 8, 2004 - The sight of Houston Texans quarterback David Carr standing tall in the pocket was a welcome relief to the Denver Broncos defensive front. Never mind that Carr is enjoying the best season of his three-year career. The Broncos defenders were left dizzy last week in the wake of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, and the presence of a more stationary Carr allowed Denver to pin its collective ears back and unleash a pass rush that had been missing during the losses of the previous two weeks. The Broncos sacked Carr four times during their 31-13 win Sunday at Invesco Field. It was the third time this season the Broncos had posted at least four sacks in a game. The three games resulted in a few of the Broncos' most one-sided wins of the year - against San Diego on Sept. 26 (26-13), at Oakland on Oct. 17 (31-3) and Sunday against the Texans.

Do-it-all Smith now No. 1 -
November 8, 2004 - One of Rod Smith's signature lines when the media approaches his locker each week inevitably is an exasperated \"Whatcha want?\" Actually, it's a question that's come to define the receiver's 10 NFL seasons in Denver. \"Whatcha want?\" Blocking? Leadership? Clutch catches? Smith has done whatever has been required since cracking the roster as an undrafted rookie from Missouri Southern State in 1995 after spending a year on the Broncos practice squad. His combined talent and effort that includes a perfect attendance record in off-season workouts is a coach's dream. On Sunday, Smith was able to be a little greedy after all that unselfish play - but declined.

Bailey gets lockdown act back -
November 8, 2004 - During this past week, Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson called Broncos defensive back Champ Bailey \"probably the top corner in the league.\" Johnson might have psyched himself out somewhat, as Bailey's lockdown routine highlighted the Broncos' best defensive effort in three games during Sunday's 31-13 win against the Texans. Johnson, who came into the game with 42 receptions for 665 yards and four touchdowns, finished with only three receptions for 28 yards. Johnson also dropped two passes and was outperformed in the receiving game by Broncos backup fullback Kyle Johnson, whose three receptions were good for 46 yards and a touchdown.

Plummer's play should turn down the volume -
November 8, 2004 - There was a different look to Jake Plummer on Sunday. And it wasn't just the scraggly beard he's sporting. He threw four touchdown passes for the second consecutive week, but the ill-advised mistakes he had made during Denver's two-game losing streak disappeared. The switch in Plummer's fortunes mirrored his team's, as Denver dominated the Houston Texans 31-13 at Invesco Field. With the Broncos heading into their bye week, the performance by the Denver quarterback takes him at least a couple weeks away from the scrutiny and fan vitriol that had accompanied his five-interception stretch in losses to Atlanta and Cincinnati the previous two games.

Big lead puts Droughns in a second-half groove -
November 8, 2004 - The second half has been a lonely spot for Reuben Droughns the past couple of weeks. But the Denver Broncos running back was able to return to his workhorse role in the final two quarters of Sunday's 31-13 victory. Droughns carried 17 times for 75 yards after the break and helped bring a sense of balance back to a Broncos attack that was unable to mix run and pass because of large deficits after halftime during its two-game losing streak. He finished with his fourth 100-yard game in five starts, gaining 120 yards on 29 carries.

Plummer bounces back with big game -
November 8, 2004 - Despite his backwoods beard and long hair, Jake Plummer does have feelings beneath his gruff Idaho exterior. He also has games to win and teammates to lead. So when he walked off the field Sunday after leading his Denver Bronco teammates to a 31-13 win over the Houston Texans at Invesco Field with no interceptions, he was happy with his team's result, and less concerned with his performance.

Broncos mess with Texans -
November 8, 2004 - If the Denver Broncos were going to remain No. 1 in the AFC West, they were going to have to stop losing to No. 1 draft picks. They couldn't stop Carson Palmer, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2003, from leading the Cincinnati Bengals to a win on Monday night two weeks ago. They couldn't stop Atlanta's Michael Vick, the No. 1 overall pick in 2001, from turning Halloween into a nightmare for Denver last week. Meanwhile, the team that traded away the pick for Vick was picking up steam and matching the Broncos 5-3 record.

Carr crash: Denver gets four sacks -
November 8, 2004 - The Broncos were in a serious sack slump entering Sunday's game at Invesco Field. Denver's defense, despite being ranked No. 4 overall in the league, was tied for 17th in sacks with only 15 at the midpoint of the season. Reggie Hayward was the team leader with 2.5, but hadn't brought a quarterback down behind the line of scrimmage since Sept. 26.

Thorburn: Smith earns spot among Bronco greats -
November 8, 2004 - John Elway. Terrell Davis. Shannon Sharpe. Ed McCaffrey. If a Mount Rushmore-style tribute to the Denver Broncos' triumphant Super Bowl teams would have been commissioned five years ago, the above would have been the busts of choice based on fan voting. Elway is obviously the greatest and most beloved player in franchise history. Davis was the most dominant running back in the league during the back-to-back titles. Sharpe backed up all the smack with amazing statistics and will join No. 7 in Canton when the tight end becomes eligible. And McCaffrey's bruising style of play and bright smile made him one of the most popular athletes in the city's history.

Climb to playoffs takes detour in Denver drubbing -
Nov. 8, 2004 - Losers of their first two games, the Texans were faced in September with quite a mountain to scale, not just to establish credibility with their fans and the rest of the NFL but to save the season. They responded with four victories in five games, then covered their ears as those around them talked playoffs. Texans coach Dom Capers refused to participate in that conversation and reminded his players to have the focus of a tightrope walker because anything less would result in an ugly fall. The spill sure is nasty from a mile high. The previously red-hot Texans waltzed into Invesco Field, needing a victory to move into a first-place tie with Jacksonville in the AFC South. Instead, they got the backside of the Denver Broncos' hand in a 31-13 smackdown that likely will dampen talk of the postseason.

Denver 31, Houston 13 -
November 7, 2004 - Rod Smith caught the history-making touchdown, turned to the stands and handed the ball to his sister. For the hard-working Broncos receiver, that was about as big as the celebration would get. Smith became Denver's career leader in both receptions and touchdown catches Sunday and Jake Plummer threw for four scores to help the Broncos snap a two-game losing streak with a 31-13 victory over the Houston Texans. \"It's a privilege to be on the same field as that guy,\" Plummer said of Smith, a 10-year veteran who started out as an undrafted rookie and spent his first year on Denver's practice squad.

Defense Rises to Occasion Against Texans -
Monday, November 8, 2004 - Two weeks of struggles didn't shake defensive coordinator Larry Coyer's confidence in his charges. Sunday, that confidence was rewarded. Coyer's defense didn't post the kind of statistically dominating day it displayed during earlier games against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders, when it held the opposition below 200 total yards. But it was dominant when the situation demanded it.

Denver Broncos vs. Houston Texans -
Sunday, November 07, 2004 - Before the start of Denver's game against Houston, Head Coach Mike Shanahan deactivated the following players: Triandos Luke, Jeff Shoate, John Lynch, Jashon Sykes, Cornell Green, Darius Holland, Trevor Pryce and Raylee Johnson. Houston won the coin toss and received the opening kickoff. The game began with a temperature of 69 degrees and a humidity level of 11 percent.

Broncos-Texans Notebook: For the Record -
Sunday, November 7, 2004 - If you're going to break one record, why not break another? Rod Smith came into Sunday's game with the Texans just two receptions and one touchdown shy of holding Broncos all-time records for both. He took care of both in the second quarter, passing Shannon Sharpe in each category. First, Smith became the team's all-time leader in receptions with a 9-yard grab 2:34 into the second quarter, giving him 676 career receptions. Eleven minutes and 54 seconds later, he added the second record to his history-making afternoon, breaking open in the back left corner of the end zone to haul in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Jake Plummer -- the team's third touchdown catch of the afternoon and Smith's 56th in his 10-year career.

Jake Strikes Back -
Sunday, November 7, 2004 - Last Sunday, Jake Plummer threw for a franchise record 499 yards and four touchdowns. But the Broncos lost to the Atlanta Falcons 41-28, due in part to the Denver quarterback's three interceptions. So instead of reading headlines on Monday morning signing his praises, Plummer awoke to stories calling for his job. Such is the life of the starting quarterback in the Mile High City. All week long, the questions have dogged him. And for seven days, he stood up and faced the music. He talked about bouncing back, something he's always done during his football career – high school, college and pro. On Sunday against the Houston Texans, Plummer finally got the chance. The barrage of questions from reporters was over. It was finally just time to play football.

Dancin' Machine -
Sunday, November 7, 2004 - Kyle Johnson had a hunch that his post-touchdown jig would cause a stir. He just didn't know how big it would be. As he answered questions from a few media members in the locker room, quarterback Jake Plummer walked in, having just completed his press conference in the adjacent interview room. \"They asked about the dance, man,\" Plummer informed Johnson from a few locker stalls away. Johnson was stunned. \"They asked you about mine? What for?\" he replied! \"I've got better stuff than that. I could have gotten on ESPN!\" He made it there anyway. The dance that followed the first touchdown of his NFL career at first seemed to resemble Adam Sandler's post-putt bull dance in Happy Gilmore. Like the title character, Johnson was \"feeling the flow; working it,\" as Kevin Nealon opined.

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