Monday, December 23, 2002 - OAKLAND, Calif. - The Denver Broncos entered one black hole Sunday and disappeared into another. With questions about whether wounded quarterback Brian Griese can lead these Broncos back to the top of an AFC West the Raiders call their own. With questions about whether veteran quarterback Steve Beuerlein is better suited to direct an offense that scored all 16 of its points Sunday under his leadership.
Griese transforms into Grinch that stole Broncos' soul - Denver Post - Woody Paige
Monday, December 23, 2002 - OAKLAND, Calif. - Brian Griese had a quarterback rating on Sunday that was virtually the same as his uniform number and barely higher than a dead man's. The biggest game of Griese's career with the Broncos was the biggest flop of Griese's career with the Broncos.
Shanahan takes time to tear into officials - Denver Post
Monday, December 23, 2002 - OAKLAND, Calif. - The Denver Broncos made enough of their own mistakes Sunday. But coach Mike Shanahan said the officials made one as well.
Romo relishes his revenge - Denver Post - Samuel Chi
Monday, December 23, 2002 - OAKLAND, Calif. - Bill Romanowski isn't one to mince words or keep to himself. "We killed them. We swept them. We made the plays and they didn't," Romanowski exclaimed after the Oakland Raiders defeated the Broncos 28-16 on Sunday to win their third consecutive AFC West title.
Broncos lose their way with latest of too many turnovers - Denver Post - Jim Armstrong
Monday, December 23, 2002 - That was no mere game the Broncos lost Sunday. It won't become official for a while, until the last number is crunched, but they lost their way of life, too. This season was all about making one last Super Bowl run before the salary cap forced the Broncos to retreat. And now it's gone, buried under one too many turnovers.
Beuerlein injects life into offense - Denver Post - Patrick Saunders
Monday, December 23, 2002 - OAKLAND, Calif. - There was passion in Steve Beuerlein's spike, just as there was passion in his game. And while the Denver Broncos' backup quarterback couldn't lift his team to victory Sunday against the hated Oakland Raiders, at least he pumped life into a dormant Broncos offense.
Season's fleeting, but no wrap yet - Rocky Mountain News - Lynn DeBruin
December 23, 2002 - OAKLAND, Calif. - The stage was set for Steve Beuerlein to be the hero, to spite former boss Al Davis and bring the Denver Broncos back to the most improbable win, in the most improbable place, in a most improbable season. In the end, the refrain inside the Broncos locker room was much the same as it has been all year: Close, but not enough.
At times, team does look special - Rocky Mountain News - Mitch Stephens
December 23, 2002 - OAKLAND, Calif. - The Denver Broncos, left for dead early in the second quarter, had climbed back to 21-10 early in the third quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by Steve Beuerlein.
McGlockton's lament - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer and Lynn DeBruin
December 23, 2002 - OAKLAND, Calif. - Chester McGlockton not only saw a missed opportunity in Sunday's loss. His football mortality flashed before his teary eyes in the Broncos' locker room after a 28-16 loss all but eliminated them from the playoff race.
Krieger: It's time for a dose of reality: Broncos offense is offensive - Rocky Mountain News - Dave Krieger
December 23, 2002 - OAKLAND, Calif. - If you were expecting Mike Shanahan to fly directly to Gainesville, Fla., after this one, you're a week early. The diversions come when it's over. Which, remarkably, it still isn't. There remains a scenario by which Shanahan's team sneaks into a wild-card playoff spot with a victory against Arizona next week, and if that happens, there will be yet another biggest game of the year, and all previous biggest games of the year will be vague memories.
Lincicome: Blame game: Griese tops the list - Rocky Mountain News - Bernie Lincicome
December 23, 2002 - OAKLAND, Calif. - At one point in the general befuddlement of another Denver Broncos failure, trying to elucidate the inexplicable, the game referee finally simply announced, "That's where we are now."
Beuerlein falls a little short - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
December 23, 2002 - OAKLAND, Calif. - The script was setting up perfectly for Steve Beuerlein late in the second quarter Sunday, if only he could forget that not-so-small matter of a three-touchdown deficit and a first full possession that began at his own 2-yard line in front of a crowd foaming at the mouth.
Pryce, 'D' respond to criticism - Rocky Mountain News - Pat Rooney
December 16, 2002 - Throughout his 10 seasons as an NFL head coach, Mike Shanahan has not made a habit of criticizing his players through the media. Shanahan's ire has not boiled over often in public but it did this week.
Griese got a knee-twisting 'best shot' dose of Romo - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
December 23, 2002 - OAKLAND, Calif. - On Nov. 7, four days before the first Denver-Oakland matchup of this NFL season, quarterback Brian Griese was asked about the prospects of facing former teammate Bill Romanowski. "I hope I get his best shot," the Broncos quarterback said at the time. "Because then it will be satisfying when we win." Griese got it half right.
Broncos defense shows up too late - Rocky Mountain News - Mitch Stephens
December 23, 2002 - OAKLAND, Calif. - The promise was to get more pressure. Don't sit back and let the league's probable Most Valuable Player sit back and pick you apart. Denver's defense kept its pact, but only after the first 18 minutes when its 28-16 loss to Oakland on Sunday was essentially decided.
Raiders, Romo hammer Broncos - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
December 23, 2002 - OAKLAND, Calif. — This was Brian Griese's defining moment? Two interceptions that, of course, were not his fault. Four failed drives. A quarterback rating of 14.7. And a 21-0 deficit before he limped to the sideline.
Thorburn: Oakland loss just symptom of season - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
December 23, 2002 - OAKLAND, Calif. — This was not the one that got away. Just the one that got away early. The Broncos spotted the Raiders 21 points and watched them celebrate a third consecutive AFC West title after a 28-16 loss on Sunday at Network Associates Coliseum.
Broncos question themselves following disheartening loss - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
December 23, 2002 - OAKLAND — Chester McGlockton questioned whether he wants to do this for a living anymore as he fought back tears. Rod Smith questioned some of his teammates after losing another NFL fight.
WR Lelie enjoys solid game - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
December 23, 2002 OAKLAND — Ashley Lelie was bleeding in the postgame locker room. It felt good, really good. In the most physical game of his career, the rookie proved to be as tough as he is fast, making four difficult catches for 106 yards.
Game 15 report - Daily Camera
December 23, 2002 - Charlie Garner. Finished with 152 yards of offense and a touchdown for the Raiders on 15 touches. ... Trace Armstrong. Finished with three sacks and an interception that led to an early Oakland touchdown. ... Bill Callahan. The first-year head coach became Oakland's first to sweep Mike Shanahan.
Playoff hopes still alive - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
December 23, 2002 - OAKLAND, Calif. — It was little comfort to the head coach or his players moments after watching the Oakland Raiders celebrate a third consecutive AFC West title at their expense, but the Denver Broncos' playoff hopes are still very much alive.
Champs by KO - San Francisco Chronicle - Nancy Gay
Monday, December 23, 2002 - In the spirit of a wildly volatile NFL season, the Raiders on Sunday won their third consecutive AFC West title with all the grace and subtlety of a train wreck.
Game grades - San Francisco Chronicle - Nancy Gay
Monday, December 23, 2002 -- OFFENSE: B+. A nicely balanced effort, one that took full advantage of Denver's 2-deep zone in the passing game and controlled the clock with timely running. Despite Rich Gannon's four sacks, the blocking was solid.
Raiders are hitting on all cylinders - San Francisco Chronicle - Scott Ostler
Monday, December 23, 2002 -The Raiders, the greatest team in the history of football for about the first hour of Sunday's game, are going to be a handful in the playoffs.
Raiders are hitting on all cylinders - San Francisco Chronicle - David Bush
Monday, December 23, 2002 - When Rich Gannon flipped a pass toward the back of the Denver end zone in the second quarter Sunday, the last person he expected to see under it was Charlie Garner.
Broncos take tough lesson in hard knocks - San Francisco Chronicle - Ira Miller
Monday, December 23, 2002 - Coaches like to pretend that football is a complex game, but in reality, it is the essence of simplicity. It comes down to beating the crap out of somebody, and what could be more basic than that?
Romanowski's spice is magic ingredient - Mercury News - Ann Killion
Mon, Dec. 23, 2002 - The Raiders broke the curse Sunday. They ended the seven-year drought, melted the magic ice cube, snapped Mike Shanahan's spell. They swept the Denver Broncos for the first time since 1994.
Raiders Rewind - Mercury News
Mon, Dec. 23, 2002 -HERO - Raiders Coach Bill Callahan. The game was a microcosm of the season: The 21-0 lead represented the 4-0 start. The third-quarter lull represented the four-game losing streak. The finishing flourish represented, well, the finishing flourish.
No time to rest for best in West - Mercury News - John Ryan
Mon, Dec. 23, 2002 - His final kneeldown complete, the Raiders' third consecutive AFC West title in hand, Rich Gannon flipped the ball to the referee Sunday. The referee tossed it back. Gannon took off running for the locker room, intent on presenting the ball to rookie Coach Bill Callahan. But an hour after the game, he still hadn't completed the handoff.
An all-important meaningless win - Contra Costa Times - Gary Peterson
Mon, Dec. 23, 2002 - OAKLAND - Tim Brown was reveling in the now -- the division championship, the season sweep of the Denver Broncos, a typhoon-free day -- when he came to fellow receiver Jerry Rice. Then he was forced to consider the past and the future, not that that's a bad thing.
Hits just keep coming for dominant Raiders - Contra Costa Times - Eric Gilmore
Mon, Dec. 23, 2002 - OAKLAND - Don't talk about exotic schemes, cryptic Xs and Os or mind games. The Raiders' 28-16 victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday was more about brawn than brains, more about raw, physical power than guile.
An all-important meaningless win - Contra Costa Times - Ann Tatko
Mon, Dec. 23, 2002 - OAKLAND - Opposing teams who plan to go after the Raiders' depleted secondary had better have a backup game plan. That's the advice from defensive end Trace Armstrong after Sunday's 28-16 win over the Denver Broncos.
Special teams not so special - Contra Costa Times - Ann Tatko
Mon, Dec. 23, 2002 - OAKLAND - The offense scored enough. The defense held at the end. The special teams, well, they somehow managed to survive their own miscues.
Lelie Bloodied, But Unbowed - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Dec. 22, 2002 - OAKLAND -- The beating that Ashley Lelie absorbed from the Raiders secondary wasn't evident at first glance. As he waded through the strewn socks and athletic tape of the Broncos' locker room, he moved as smoothly and gracefully as he did on the field, when he made yet another acrobatic catch near the sideline, an occurence that is becoming as much a part of the Broncos' weekly attack as short slants to Ed McCaffrey or a new end-zone dance by Clinton Portis.
Teams Get Physical in Hard-Hitting Duel - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Dec. 22, 2002 - OAKLAND -- Based on a career of habitually hopping up after absorbing ferocious hits, one knows it takes a lot for wide receiver Ed McCaffrey to go down and stay down -- such as the broken leg he suffered in Week 1 of the 2001 season.
Struggles at Start Painted Broncos Into Corner - DenverBroncos.com - Andrew Mason
Dec. 22, 2002 - OAKLAND -- Early in the quarter, Brian Griese completed a 7-yard, second-down pass to wide receiver Ed McCaffrey. It was a toss that allowed Denver to cross midfield for the first time.