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Bronco Message Really Clear

September 16, 2002|From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Though radio problems reduced the Denver Broncos to hand signals and player relays on offense, their defense sent a signal that every team in the NFL should be able to hear.

Mike Anderson ran for 95 yards and caught a touchdown pass, and Brian Griese threw two touchdown passes Sunday as the Broncos beat the punchless San Francisco 49ers, 24-14, knocking off an NFC Super Bowl hopeful for the second consecutive week.

Because of interference from the 49er communications systems, the Broncos (2-0) used old-fashioned methods for nearly everything they did. While Griese called several plays on his own, the hard-hitting Bronco defense forced the 49ers into one of their worst games in recent memory.

"That's one of the most complete games we've played in a while," Bronco linebacker Ian Gold said. "They got frustrated because we were stopping everything they did."

Denver held the 49ers (1-1) to 261 total yards--67 on a meaningless final drive. Fans booed their team heartily in the second half, and thousands headed for the exits early.

"We just stunk it up all across the board," 49er receiver Terrell Owens said. "Everybody messed up. It's early in the season, and we've got time to correct our mistakes. But basically, we just stunk."

The Broncos, who have missed the playoffs in two of the last three seasons, appear ready to reclaim their spot among the NFL's elite after the impressive victory over the 49ers, who lost for only the second time in 10 home games. The Broncos held the St. Louis Rams to one touchdown in their season opener.

"There probably weren't many people who thought we'd start off 2-0, but here we are," Griese said.

Bronco defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes dropped two safeties and a linebacker into deep coverage, forcing the 49ers to throw short completions. Tight end Eric Johnson caught seven passes for 69 yards, but linebackers Gold, John Mobley and Al Wilson swarmed all over the 49ers on short receptions.

"The defense did a good job," Bronco Coach Mike Shanahan said. "That's an excellent offense to contain, and being able to put them into a one-dimensional game is really great."

The 49er offense also contributed to some of its problems. Starting with consecutive false-start penalties on Owens during their first drive, the 49ers had 10 penalties for 114 yards.

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