It took the Denver Broncos exactly ten seconds to dispel any notion of a bye week letdown. Exactly the same amount of time that it took for Reuben Droughns to rip off a 51-yard touchdown run to open up the Broncos 34-13 win over the New Orleans Saints.
"It was definitely a dream," said Droughns of his first play score. "Anytime a running back, on the first play of the game, can get a long run it's rare, so you get excited by it."
Excited as he was, the fifth-year veteran was also quick to discourage any idea that he was slowly evolving into a speed-back.
"It must have been the turf, he explained jokingly. "I really don't think I'm a speed-back right now, it was just one of those situations that if you got caught from behind, the team would talk about you for the rest of the year."
While scoring the Broncos quickest touchdown of the season obviously postponed any teammate ridicule, it also set the stage for a Denver defense, which recorded a season-high four turnovers.
The Broncos second touchdown, a mere seventy seconds into their second possession, added further emphasis to what Mike Shanahan described as total team effort.
"I was pleased with the way we kept them out of the end zone, said Shanahan. "The guys were really playing consistent and hard for each other, and I felt very fortunate that got them behind early and probably took them a little out of their game plan."
Backed against the wall, New Orleans was forced into a passing game that never quite found its mark.
Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks took to the air sixty times, suffering three interceptions in the process, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Broncos linebacker Al Wilson. His lone touchdown strike to Donte Stallworth capped off New Orleans' longest drive of the game, seventy-three yards, but did little to discourage team owner Tom Benson from publicly ridiculing his teams' lackluster performance.
"It's the worst performance I've seen by them in the 20 years that I've owned them," Benson said. "They looked just like high school kids."
Benson's embarrassment comes just days after the owner had asked the state to pay millions of dollars to the team to help renovate the Superdome, ensuring the Saints would stay in Louisiana.
Today's loss, which drops New Orleans to 4-6 for the season, has many questioning if the money would really be worth having the team stay.
"It's frustrating," Saints running back Deuce McAllister said. "That's probably the only way I can describe it. When you can't move the ball, can't get a first down, and you go three-and-out; you're basically putting yourself in a hole from the get-go."
Broncos Scoring Drives -
Reuben Droughns – 51-yard touchdown run
Ashley Lelie – 37-yard touchdown pass from Jake Plummer
Jason Elam – 48-yard field goal
Jason Elam – 34-yard field goal
Al Wilson - 7-yard interception returned for touchdown
Kyle Johnson – 19-yard touhdown catch from Jake Plummer
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