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Broncos Back to Winning at Home

October 16, 2000|From Associated Press

DENVER — Shrugging off their mounting injuries, the Denver Broncos are becoming proficient as Patchwork Orange.

Even with a sore throwing shoulder and a battered backfield behind him, Brian Griese was too much for the Cleveland Browns, passing for 336 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-10 rout Sunday.

Griese, who has torn cartilage in his shoulder and doesn't practice on Wednesdays to ease strain on the joint, broke a 3-3 tie with back-to-back touchdown passes to Rod Smith in the second quarter.

Deltha O'Neal's 62-yard kickoff return set up Mike Anderson's 26-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter, making the score 27-10. Griese then connected with Smith on a 32-yard scoring pass play on fourth down with 4:48 left in the quarter, helping the Broncos end a rare two-game losing streak at home.

The Broncos (4-3) were without starting running back Terrell Davis and fullback Howard Griffith, who were sidelined because of ankle and knee injuries, respectively. Griffith's backup, Detron Smith, was limited to special-teams duty because of a leg injury, and Anderson's backup, KaRon Coleman, was inactive because of a sprained foot.

Still, the Broncos generated 499 yards compared to 278 for the Browns (2-5), who dropped their fourth consecutive game.

"We went into the game with just one fullback, two running backs and three wide receivers," Coach Mike Shanahan said, explaining the Broncos' decision to go with a one-back offense without a fullback and using four tight ends. "Detron was beat up from last week. If he goes down, obviously you have nowhere to go."

Griese said the Broncos "didn't have a fullback, basically, so it was a new offense for us."

The Browns' decision to stack the line of scrimmage and force Denver to throw backfired.

"I think this is the most aggressive that anyone has tried to play us defensively," Griese said, "and we had to make them pay."

Griese, the AFC's top-rated passer, completed 19 of 34 passes with no interceptions before leaving the game with a 34-10 lead late in the third quarter. Smith finished with five receptions for 111 yards.

Cleveland's Tim Couch completed 24 for 40 passes for 266 yards and one touchdown. The Broncos sacked him five times and intercepted three of his passes, one of which was returned 36 yards for a touchdown by safety Billy Jenkins.

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