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Broncos Find Another Star Runner

September 11, 2000|From Associated Press

DENVER — The third-string running back for the Denver Broncos did the other two proud.

Rookie Mike Anderson, making his first NFL start because of injuries to Terrell Davis and Olandis Gary, rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns in 31 carries as the Broncos routed the Falcons, 42-14.

"Driving to the stadium, my heart was pounding and I was shaking a little bit," Anderson said. "Filling in for a guy like Terrell Davis, there are going to be some high expectations. But I just tried to relax and not put a lot of pressure on myself.

"When I started getting handoffs, those holes were just wide open. The guys up front did a great job."

The win might be a costly one for the Broncos. The Broncos lost kicker Jason Elam late in the second quarter when he was wiped out by a block on a kickoff return for a touchdown. His right leg dangling, Elam was assisted off the field by two trainers and was taken to the locker room on a cart. A team spokesman said Elam has a soft-tissue injury to his lower back.

"He's really sore," Bronco Coach Mike Shanahan said. "He got hit on the hip and was having problems with his lower back, but at least it wasn't a knee or anything along those lines."

Brian Griese, who entered the game as the league's top-rated passer, completed 20 of 33 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns, two of them to Rod Smith.

Denver (1-1) had 407 total yards compared to 186 for the Falcons (1-1).

The loss spoiled the return of Atlanta Coach Dan Reeves to Denver, where he coached the Broncos for 12 seasons (1981-92).

"They beat us about as bad as you could get beat," Reeves said. "We started off bad with a penalty on the first play, and it just seemed to continue to get worse."

Anderson is a 26-year-old rookie from Utah, which also is where the Falcons' Jamal Anderson played.

Mike Anderson, drafted in the sixth round, earned the start when Davis was declared inactive because of a sprained left ankle and Gary, Davis' backup, was put on injured reserve with a torn ligament in his right knee. Gary rushed for more than 1,000 yards last year when Davis missed most of the season with a knee injury.

Mike Anderson carried the final four times on a 48-yard drive, capped by his two-yard scoring run, for a 7-0 lead with 8:25 left in the first quarter. Tim Dwight fumbled the ensuing kickoff at the Atlanta 16, and Elam kicked a 29-yard field goal, then added a 51-yarder late in the quarter.

Mike Anderson also capped a 61-yard drive with a 20-yard run for a 27-0 lead. The Broncos made it 34-0 when Griese had completions of 25 and 18 yards before connecting with Smith, who made a leaping 11-yard touchdown reception over cornerback Ashley Ambrose.

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