Maybe the Denver Broncos are finally over their fourth-quarter struggles.
Denver, which took big leads but allowed their opponents back in the game in five straight contests, started well and finished strong against the New York Jets in a 27-0 win Sunday.
The Broncos allowed the Jets to get to Denver's 32-yard line, but linebacker Ian Gold forced a fumble and Denver recovered.
"We've had teams up at halftime, for three quarters, pretty much the whole season," Gold said. "Those teams have came back and bitten us in the butt at the end of games. We haven't finished games, and that's what we were focusing on."
The Broncos got their first shutout since 1997, as they never allowed New York past their 29-yard line.
"Anytime you have a goose egg on the board, you are playing pretty good," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "I felt even though they were banged up, it's hard to do what we did on defense."
The Broncos have another game on Thursday against Dallas and were heavily favored to beat the Jets, so they were pleased there was no letup against New York.
"I think it says we mean business," Gold said. "You don't see guys popping bottles of champagne. Now were getting ready for Dallas."
The Broncos forced five turnovers. They took a 17-0 lead in the second quarter, forcing the Jets to abandon the running game. New York ran the ball only seven times, a record low for a Broncos opponent.
Denver's defense got its first shutout since Nov. 9, 1997, against Carolina. The Broncos knocked Jets quarterback Brooks Bollinger out of the game with a concussion in the first quarter, and then harassed backup Vinny Testaverde before knocking him out with an ankle injury in the closing minutes. The Broncos controlled the ball for 42:28 to the Jets' 17:32.
--K Jason Elam strained his left calf in pregame warm-ups against the Jets. Elam shortened his approach on kicks and made both of his field-goal attempts despite the injury. He said he should be ready to kick on Thursday against Dallas.
--RB Tatum Bell left the Jets game in the third quarter with a bruised chest. Bell said he didn't think the injury was serious, but he doesn't have much time to recover. Denver plays at Dallas on Thursday.
--DE Marco Coleman was active against the Jets, and he had a sack. Coleman, a veteran, has been inactive most of the season, but the Broncos can trust him to be ready when he is needed.
--CB Champ Bailey had an interception on Sunday against the Jets. He has five interceptions this season, which is tied for the most in his career. He had five in 1999 and 2000.
--FB Cecil Sapp was put in the Jets game at tailback when Tatum Bell was out with an injury and Mike Anderson needed a rest. Sapp answered with 21 yards on five carries. Sapp was a tailback in college at Colorado State.
AROUND THE LEAGUE:
It sounds as if the Carolina Panthers might be ready to hand the ball over to DeShaun Foster.
Davis smiled politely and said, "Why do you want to talk to me? I didn't even play."
That was the issue at hand.
Davis, who came into the game averaging a mere 3 yards per carry, started against the Bears but was replaced on the second play of the game by Foster. Foster got the bulk of the carries for Carolina on Sunday, finishing with 41 yards on nine carries.
It could be said that Foster got more carries because the Panthers had fallen behind and he's used in more passing situations due to his versatility, but it sounded after the game as if he will be seeing a lot more carries down the stretch and Davis will be used less.
"We were trying to get his carries up a little bit more," coach John Fox said. "Stephen has been getting more touches, and we're trying to get DeShaun more equal touches."
After the game Davis seemed a little discouraged by the lack of playing time.
When told of Fox's comments, Davis said, "If that's his decision, well I can't control that. All I can do is do the best I can when I'm out there."
Davis, who carried 27 times for 81 yards last week against the New York Jets, said he had no idea he would see a reduction in his number of carries.
"Sometimes you are going to have games like this, and when they come, you don't want them to come," Davis said.
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