DENVER, Colo. - Brian Griese connected on 26 of 35 passes for 316 yards, including 2 touchdowns as the Denver Broncos rebounded from Monday night's embarrassment with a 26-9 victory over the previously undefeated San Diego Chargers.
Griese, who spread his passing attack among nine different receivers, opened up the scoring with a 69-yard strike to wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, two plays into Denver's initial possession, building a lead that Denver would not relinquish.
From there it became a battle of defensive prowess, and the Broncos responded admirably, holding La Danian Tomlinson, the leagues top running back to just 49-yards on seven carries. A far cry from the 217-yard Tomlinson netted against defending Super Bowl champion New England last week.
"They look a lot like the old Orange Crush defense," said Chargers head coach Marty Shottenheimer. "This is a fast group, especially those linebackers. Ian Gold has a chance to be one of the best in the business in my opinion."
With Tomlinson held in check, the door was open for Broncos running back Clinton Portis, who nailed his second 100+ running game of the season, finishing with a total 102-yards on 20 carries, an average of 5.1 yards per carry.
The Chargers, who were forced to play without Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau (ankle), gave up a total 417 yards.
"I understand the importance of losing your leader, but in the National Football League you have to have someone step up," said Shottenheimer. "In the reality of it, we had 11 guys out there, and those guys have to play better than we played."
Deltha O'Neal, ejected from last weeks game for bumping an official, responded with his best output of the season, picking off two Drew Brees' passes, one of which he carried back for a 28-yard touchdown and one which ended a Chargers touchdown drive four-yards deep in the end zone, which was returned to the Broncos 16-yard line.
"I didn't try an put any extre pressure on myself after last week, I just tried to prepare like it was any other game," said O'Neal.
In reality though it was not just another game for Denver, it was, perhaps, a make or break point for the entire season.
Coming off a Monday night debacle the Broncos were faced with a must win situation in order to remain competitive within the AFC West, a division proving itself to be the toughest in the NFL.
"It's always nice to find a way to win, especially after the way we played Monday night," head coach Mike Shanahan told reporters. "While very pleased with the outcome, it was not unexpected. "I would have been very surprised if our football team didn't come out and bounce back after being embarrassed like that."
Sunday's win leaves the Broncos tied with San Diego for second place, one-half game behind the Oakland Raiders, the NFL's only undefeated team at 4-0.
Unfortunately the road doesn't get any easier next week, when Denver plays host to the upstart Miami Dolphins and running back Ricky Williams, fresh off a 26-13 upset of the reigning Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.
Broncos Bounce Back
Mile High Huddle Top Stories
Harris Talks About How Champ Influenced HimWith Champ Bailey being inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, Broncos All-Pro cornerback Chris Harris, Jr. shared some thoughts on how his mentor influenced him.
Mile High HuddleYesterday at 2:14 PM
PRE-DRAFT FLASH SALE: Get 3 Months For 1In honor of the NFL Draft, we're running a brief FLASH SALE on Mile High Huddle premium memberships. For just $5, you can be locked in to all things Broncos until training camp!
Mile High HuddleTuesday at 1:00 AM
Interpreting Elway's Comments On SambrailoOn Monday, John Elway held court in his pre-draft press conference. Elway had words of support for third-year tackle Ty Sambrailo. Three days away from the Draft, what does it all…
Mile High HuddleMonday at 6:14 PM
Smoke or Fire? Takeaways From Elway's PresserJohn Elway shared some thoughts in his annual pre-draft press conference. What did we learn? Chad Jensen breaks it down.
Mile High HuddleMonday at 1:41 PM