DENVER, Colo. - In a span of three hours the Denver Broncos fell from a first place tie in the AFC West to a solid lock at second, behind both Oakland and San Diego, as the Miami Dolphins captured a 24-22 victory over Denver Sunday night at Invesco Field.
The Broncos, who elevated to the tops in their division with Oakland's loss to St. Louis earlier in the day, faced a must win in order to advance, along with San Diego, with a 5-1 record.
Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be.
It was spoiled by Miami kicker Olando Mare, who connected from 53-yards out with six seconds remaining to lift Miami to a 5-1 record, and bury the Broncos further within the AFC West with Denver's first home loss of the season.
Brian Griese, who played an exceptional first half, struggled against Miami's strong second half rush, throwing two interceptions, one of which was returned by Patrick Surtain for a 40-yard touchdown return, lifting Miami to a 21-12 lead, midway through the fourth quarter.
Needing two scores for a win Denver fought back, as Griese capped an 80-yard drive off with a one-yard Mike Anderson touchdown catch, cutting Miami's lead 21-19.
Following another strong defensive stand Griese led the Broncos back into scoring position where Jason Elam connected on his fifth field goal of the game, a 55-yarder to put Denver ahead 22-21 with .50 left.
Unfortunately, Miami needed only forty-four of those seconds, as quarterback Jay Fiedler engineered a five play, 39-yard drive to set up Mare's game winning kick.
"I was at least pleased that when we got down, we found a way to fight back and appeared to get the job done," head coach Mike Shanahan said.
Griese finished with 27 of 46 passes for 335-yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
"I know I didn't play perfect and I know a lot of our guys on our team feel the same way," said Griese "I am going to be hard on myself, but at the same time I realize that I am not always going to be perfect."
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