AFC West Report: Broncos, Chargers, Raiders Fall

With the Raiders already losing by the time games kicked off on Sunday all of the other teams in the division had an opportunity. The Chiefs were the only ones able to capitalize while the Broncos were blasted in Miami and the Chargers lost a heart breaker to Dallas.

The biggest egg laid over the weekend was the one Denver let loose in Miami. The rejuvenated Dolphins physically dominated the Broncos in route to a 34-10 win. Fourteen of the fifteen drives for the Broncos lasted less than three minutes while a good portion of those lasted less than two minutes. In essence there was no running game from what was supposed to be a deep Denver backfield.

Tatum Bell had one long run of 30-yards but his other twelve carries resulted in only 17-yards. Combine the poor running game with a couple Jake Plummer interceptions, a lost Plummer fumble and that is all the Dolphins needed to subdue the Broncos.

All of the Broncos turnovers happened in the fourth quarter. Mike Shanahan said that he has never been with an offense that has ever put as much pressure on a defense than his team did on Sunday.

Running back Mike Anderson was lost to a groin injury and Champ Bailey who left the game with a separated shoulder; made the day even worse for the Broncos. Cramps were a big problem as well in the Miami heat. Darrent Williams and Lenny Walls were both sidelined for cramps in the third quarter. The Dolphins then went out and scored on three consecutive drives.

Clearly these are not the John Elway Broncos. The Jake Plummer controversy continues for the Broncos. On Sunday they will host the San Diego Chargers at Invesco Field in a must win game. One team will leave the field 0-2 on the season.

Perhaps the best game of the weekend was in San Diego in an affair that teetered back and forth until the Cowboys were able to stop the Chargers on 4th and goal to seal the 28-24 victory. Simply said the ball was not given to LaDainian Tomlinson nearly enough. When in came down to the four plays at the Dallas five-yard line in the waning seconds the best running back in the NFL didn't touch the ball.

Tomlinson carried the ball 19 times for 72-yards and the first touchdown of the game. Even more surprising then his run output was the fact he did not have a catch either, a role that he is lethal at when given the opportunity. What was even more surprising than the lack of responsibility given to Tomlinson was that he was not used more in the absence of tight end Antonio Gates who was suspended by the team for his preseason holdout. A decision made by management that can easily be argued was the reason that the Chargers lost the game.

Quarterback Drew Brees took responsibility for the loss saying that he has to be the one that comes through in that end of the game situation. Aaron Glenn picked off Brees on the fourth and goal play. Brees also had another interception that the Cowboys were able to capitalize on and get a touchdown.

Although the Chargers were able to sack Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe four times, Bledsoe was able to pass for 226 yards and three touchdowns. Keyshawn Johnson caught the game winner for his second on the day.

Gates will return to his starter role on Sunday when the Chargers play the Broncos on the road. They'll need him to defeat Denver who will be in a fowl mood after losing the season opener in Miami.

With the Raiders losing as well the Chiefs are on top of the division at 1-0. The Chiefs defense looks like it will live up to its expectations as they bullied the Jets all over the field in their blowout win. The Chiefs will play at Oakland on Sunday night.

It could be a rough go for the Raiders if the hand injury to quarterback Kerry Collins is more severe than has been reported. Collins hurt his hand on Monday after it struck a teammates helmet. As long as it's not serious, he is expected to return to practice on Wednesday.

Wide receiver Jerry Porter is also expected to get more reps in practice and that's something the Raiders offense needs. On Thursday night Randy Moss was double and triple teamed because the Raiders didn't have any other wide receivers that could make plays. That has to change if they hope to defeat the Chiefs on Sunday Night in Oakland.

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