Broncos News Briefs - Tuesday, Nov. 23

It looks like a Broncos v. Chargers race for the AFC West title. Read about it in today's news reports. Also - Mike Shanahan revisits the Clinton Portis for Champ Bailey trade.

Division revision: Chargers threat - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - It's the beginning of Raiders week, usually a momentous occasion in Denver. But in the big picture, what matters is the San Diego Chargers. With six weeks remaining in the season, the AFC West Division race will come down to the Broncos and San Diego. Defending division champion Kansas City and Oakland are mathematically alive, but neither has a realistic chance to win the division. After hosting Oakland on Sunday night at Invesco Field at Mile High, the Broncos travel to San Diego on Dec. 5. The sold-out game will determine first place in the division at the three-quarter point of the season - regardless of the outcome of either team's game this weekend. It will be the Broncos' first December game for first place since the 2002 season, when they lost 28-16 at Oakland. Coach Mike Shanahan said the Broncos cannot allow themselves to worry about the Chargers yet.

Bailey picks time for spectacle - Denver Post - Jim Armstrong
Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - It was Champ Bailey's signature play in a Broncos uniform, a play so seemingly impossible, so utterly inconceivable, the officials on the spot assumed he hadn't made it. You couldn't really blame them. Bailey may be the only player on the planet who could have pulled it off. Even on the replay, it didn't seem possible, but somehow Bailey made the play. Somehow, he came streaking across the end zone Sunday to intercept a pass and pull the plug on the music before Joe Horn could launch his latest touchdown dance. "I don't think Aaron Brooks even saw me," Bailey said.

Bell displays signs of being special player - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - Bell already is showing his playmaking ability.In Denver, running backs don't become stars right away. They have to earn it, most likely on special teams. Sunday, rookie tailback Tatum Bell began acquiring his status with three special-teams tackles in Denver's 34-13 victory at New Orleans. Bell, a second-round pick from Oklahoma State, is following in the footsteps of former Denver star Terrell Davis and current tailback Reuben Droughns. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said Bell's speed and athleticism may be an indication of things to come.

Broncos taking advantage of openings - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
November 23, 2004 - Sunday wasn't the first time the Denver Broncos went to a quick count on the first play to throw an opponent off balance. "We've done that several times," receiver Rod Smith said. The quick points it has produced are something Denver has accomplished with even greater frequency. Reuben Droughns' 51-yard run on the Broncos' opening snap was part of a 20-0 domination in the first quarter during a 34-13 victory in New Orleans. As a result, the Broncos have a plus-458-point differential in the first quarter since Mike Shanahan took over as coach in 1995 - 946 points scored, 488 allowed.

Tuesday Morning Quarterback: Raiders will make a commitment to go for broke - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
November 23, 2004 - The Oakland Raiders are 3-7. They are not going to the playoffs. They are struggling, fumbling and stumbling. They have built a mountain of mistakes on their pursuit of something that, at the moment, is a few notches below excellence. This would be the good news for the Denver Broncos, who will play host to the Raiders on Sunday in a little prime- time get-together. Ah, but there is a catch. There always is, it seems. And the catch with the Raiders is they know, even as they head toward their eighth playoff miss in the past 11 years, they must show team bigwig Al Davis something, even in a season as lost as this one has become for them. Because of that, the Raiders are willing to roll the dice, ditch the percentages, break out the beakers and do a little experimenting.

Journeymen get chance to shine - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
November 23, 2004 - A year ago, Patrick Chukwurah was unemployed. "I thank the Lord every day that I got a job this year," Chukwurah said last week while preparing for the Denver Broncos' trip to New Orleans. Chukwurah only receives one check from Pat Bowlen, but he is putting in a lot of shifts for Mike Shanahan. The former Wyoming standout takes reps in practice as a backup linebacker and defensive end, as well as participating on the kickoff and punt coverage and return teams. "Anything to help the team out," said Chukwurah, who was cut by Houston during the Texans' 2003 training camp. "My reps are kind of limited right now, but when I go in there I try to make something happen."

Shanahan: Trade a win-win - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
November 23, 2004 - It seemed like a good Monday to bring up The Trade again. After all, Champ Bailey made on of the more spectacular interceptions you're going to see and led the Broncos with 13 tackles in a 34-13 win at New Orleans that improved Denver's record to 7-3. In Philadelphia, Clinton Portis had 37 yards on 17 carries as the Redskins lost 28-6 to fall to 3-7. Is too early to declare Shanahan the winner and Joe Gibbs the loser in the Bailey-for-Portis Pro Bowl swap? "You're too worried about who got the better end of it," Shanahan told the cameras and tape-recorders during his weekly press conference. "I've said this from the first day it happened: I think the trade was good for both parties.

Keeping in Balance - - Andrew Mason
Monday, November 22, 2004 - Both Rod Smith and Ashley Lelie stand on pace for 1,000-yard receiving seasons through 10 games; Smith is on track for 1,061 yards while Lelie's numbers have him at a 1,030-yard clip. But between them, the two only have one game in which either broke the 100-yard mark -- when Smith snared 208 yards' worth of receptions during the Week 8 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Contrast that to last year, when the Broncos saw their pass catchers post four 100-yard days, even though they averaged 60.1 fewer yards per game last year through the air than they are in 2004. The reason? Balance and extensive contributions from more players.

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