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Frerotte Makes Sure Chargers Lose Again

November 20, 2000|From Associated Press

DENVER — With Brian Griese and Terrell Davis on the sideline, the Denver Broncos hopped on the Gus Bus and rode it to a wild victory.

Griese, the AFC's passing leader, was sidelined by a separated throwing shoulder, and Davis was out because of a leg injury, but Gus Frerotte showed that the Broncos still have plenty in reserve.

Frerotte, in his second start of the season, threw five touchdown passes in a 38-37 triumph over the winless San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

In a rally that would have made John Elway proud, Frerotte brought the Broncos (7-4) back from a 34-17 deficit late in the third quarter and a 37-24 deficit with seven minutes left.

He threw touchdown passes to Rod Smith, Desmond Clark and Ed McCaffrey--all in the fourth quarter--the final one a five-yarder to McCaffrey with 1:33 left.

"Pretty much, I planned it like that," Frerotte joked. "It was crazy. It was up and down all day."

Frerotte completed 36 of 58 passes for 462 yards. The yardage established a Denver record, and his five touchdown passes and 36 completions tied team records.

"Obviously," McCaffrey said, "Gus has a ton of talent and a great arm and can really make things happen."

"These games are going to kill me," said Bronco Coach Mike Shanahan, whose team defeated Oakland on the last play of the game Monday night. "There were a lot of moments when anyone who watched the game realistically would have said the game was over. But we never gave up."

Earlier, Frerotte was his own worst enemy by throwing four interceptions, one of which was returned 75 yards for a touchdown by cornerback Scott Turner.

"It was amazing to be down 17 points twice and find a way to win," Smith said. "That's what you've got to do if you're going to stay in the playoff hunt."

"We thought we had the win for sure," Charger running back Jermaine Fazande said.

Ryan Leaf, in by far his best performance as a pro, completed 13 of 27 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns with one interception, but it wasn't enough.

Leaf's 83-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Graham late in the third quarter made it 34-17.

"We had a chance and it looked good," Charger Coach Mike Riley said. "But we were still playing a good team that kept making plays."

The Chargers (0-11), on the verge of ending their long losing streak, converted five Denver turnovers into 27 points.

Three big touchdown plays in the second quarter gave the Chargers a 24-10 halftime lead. Leaf was four of five for 143 yards and two touchdowns in the quarter.

Early in the period, Leaf connected with Curtis Conway, who weaved his way through five defenders for a 68-yard scoring play.

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