DENVER, Colo. - After seventeen-years in the NFL you would think that quarterback Steve Beuerlein was past the point of being nervous.
You'd be wrong.
"I was nervous just holding for the first extra point last week," joked Beuerlein. "Now when you talk about going in at quarterback, that's a whole different animal. Yea, I was a little bit nervous."
"People might be surprised at that, how can a guy as old as me still get nervous, but I play the game like I did when I was a kid. I still get the butterflies, I still get excited and I was excited about getting the opportunity to get in there."
The opportunity as Jason Elam's holder came up with the release of Tom Rouen. The opportunity at quarterback came with the second-degree MCL tear in Brian Griese's left knee.
Now at thirty-eight years old, after having played for five different NFL franchises, Beuerlein faces perhaps his biggest challenge yet, leading the AFC West first -place Denver Broncos toward the 2002 playoffs.
"It just goes to show you in this game how one play can change things," said Beuerlein. So now my whole mentality has to change and I've got to get myself prepared to be the starter, not worry about how long its been, I've got to go out there and execute at a high level and gives us a chance to get where we want to get."
Beuerlein, who holds an 80.6 career quarterback rating, dating back to 1987 when he played with the Los Angeles Raiders, replaced Griese with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter after
Griese was tackled by Seattle defensive tackle Rocky Bernard.
The tackle sent Griese to the sidelines and Beuerlein to the field for his first series of downs since the 2000 season. Four plays later the former Notre Dame star connected with tight end Patrick Hape on a one-yard touchdown toss to give Denver a 17-6 advantage.
Denver's next possession provided equally favorable results as Beuerlein engineered a 6-play, 60-yard drive that culminated in a 14-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Rod Smith.
Two passes – two completions – two touchdowns, not a bad start for someone that only 24-hours earlier had confided with his wife the frustrations of not feeling he was contributing to the team.
"It had been a long time, and you get frustrated from a selfish standpoint that you're not getting a chance to contribute," Beuerlein admitted.
Now the chance to contribute has landed squarely in his lap, and it's an opportunity Beuerlein cherishes.
"I may be a little bit older than most of the guys in here, but I've played a lot more than most of the guys in here. I know how to play the game, I enjoy it and I'll take it as far as I can, understanding that as soon as Brian's ready I'll turn it back over to him, hopefully in as good as shape, if not better, than when I took over."
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