DENVER — The Denver Broncos were a field goal away from replacing Brian Griese with Steve Beuerlein in the fourth quarter.
It's a good thing for the Broncos that St. Louis kicker Jeff Wilkins missed.
Griese threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns and led a 71-yard drive for the deciding score as the Broncos beat the Rams, 23-16, Sunday.
Griese played a solid first half--10 for 16 for 110 yards--but was booed after two interceptions and a fumble in the third quarter.
Beuerlein began warming up as Wilkins lined up for a tying field goal midway through the fourth, but was called back when the kick came up short.
"Well, thoughts went through my mind in the third quarter when we were a little flat," Bronco Coach Mike Shanahan said. "If they had kicked that field goal, I felt we would have needed a spark."
Shanahan left Griese in and he responded by completing four of four passes for 56 yards on the deciding scoring drive.
Griese capped it with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Ed McCaffrey that put the Broncos up, 23-13, with just under six minutes left.
"I thought we had a bad quarter, and I didn't play very well in the third quarter," said Griese, who finished 18 for 27.
"But at the same time, I think the mark of a good player and a good team is that you show the character to come back from adversity, because adversity is a part of the game."
Denver pressured Kurt Warner, held Marshall Faulk mostly in check and played physically against St. Louis' receivers to end the Rams' winning streak on the road at nine. The Patriots used a similar tactic to beat the Rams in the Super Bowl.
"We watched tapes of the Super Bowl and saw New England really popping guys in the mouth," Bronco linebacker John Mobley said. "We saw that they didn't like that and knew it was something that we wanted to do."
Faulk, the league most valuable player in 2000, had a career-high 14 catches for 91 yards, but had only 19 yards rushing in 10 carries. He finished one yard short of becoming the ninth player in league history to gain 15,000 yards from scrimmage.
Warner was 32 for 41 for 315 yards, but didn't have a touchdown, was sacked three times and threw an interception.
"They did a great job up front," Warner said. "We just couldn't pick up some of their schemes. They wouldn't let us get a push. We'd get our momentum, but then get stopped."
Said St. Louis Coach Mike Martz: "I thought they took the fight out of us pretty good in the first half."