DENVER, Colo. - With losses by both San Diego and Oakland, the Denver Broncos playoff hopes remain alive, at least for another week, as they defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 31-24.
Brian Griese connected on 18 of 26 passes for 297 – yards, while rookie Clinton Portis finished with 131-yards on 21 carries to lift the Broncos to an 8-6 record, good enough to elevate the Broncos to a second place tie with San Diego in the AFC West, keping their playoff hopes alive.
The game, a must win for Denver, boiled down to the final few minutes with Kansas City mounting, what would be a game winning drive, only to fall short as Trent Green's desperation pass fell incomplete in the end zone as time expired.
"This was big," Green told reporters. "Once they flashed it up on the scoreboard that the other teams had lost, and knowing we play those two teams the next couple of weeks, it was very costly."
The Broncos struck early, opening a 14-0 lead on two Clinton Portis touchdowns, one from 51-yards out and the other from within the 3-yard line.
Portis, who had been battling the flu all week, finished with a career-best, and franchise tying a four- touchdown performance, including a spectacular 66-yard touchdown catch late in the third quarter that put the Broncos up 28-7.
"I actually told head coach Mike Shanahan after the pass for the touchdown," I had nothing left. "I almost fell down coming off the field. "They asked me 'Can you go back in?' I was like, 'Put Mike in. I don't have anything left.'"
It was a game, that on paper, was pretty evenly matched, yet Denver was clearly the aggressor from the opening kickoff, mostly out of desperation.
It was that desperation that prompted a change in the defensive unit's starting line up as both Lional Dalton and Deltha O'Neal were replaced with Montae Reagor and Tyrone Poole. A move generated earlier in the week by what Mike Shanahan deemed a lack of effort.
Lack of effort was certainly not the problem today as Denver appeared more motivated than in recent memory. They executed on offense, defense and even special team had it's share of domination. In all, the Broncos played like a team with a mission.
While that mission may be a case of too little too late, the effort was there none-the less and with only two weeks remaining on the regualar schedule it's become a must win situation, each and every week.
Another Charger and Raider loss and, believe it or not, these very same Broncos could wind up as this year's AFC West Champions.
Stay tuned, stranger things have happened.
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