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Griese Becomes Bronco Closer

September 23, 2002|From Associated Press

DENVER — Brian Griese is changing his reputation of playing poorly in the clutch.

Griese threw for 211 yards and two touchdowns, and led Denver on a key scoring drive for the third consecutive week as the Broncos beat the Buffalo Bills, 28-23, Sunday.

"It's becoming a trend for us offensively to put a drive together in the fourth quarter," said Griese, who has won three consecutive games for the first time in his five-year career. "I would prefer to put the game away in the first half like we should have, but we'll take it."

Griese, the worst-rated passer in the fourth quarter last season, has been the league's best this year.

After leading the Broncos on decisive scoring drives against St. Louis and San Francisco the first two weeks, Griese took the Broncos 80 yards for a touchdown after the Bills pulled within 21-16 midway through the fourth quarter.

Griese was six for nine for 62 yards on the final drive, capping it with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Rod Smith with 2:39 left. He also kept the drive alive with a six-yard pass to Smith on fourth-and-five from the Buffalo 37-yard line.

Griese was 16 for 20 for 165 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in the fourth quarter this season. He finished 19 of 31 overall against Buffalo.

"This is what it's all about--stepping up in crunch time when a play is needed," Denver fullback Mike Anderson said.

Denver shut down a high-scoring offense for the third consecutive week to start 3-0 for the first time since 1998, when they won their second consecutive Super Bowl.

Buffalo (1-2) began the game as the NFL leader in yards passing and points, and was second in total yards, but finished with only 291 yards--39 rushing.

Buffalo's Drew Bledsoe, who set a franchise record with 463 yards passing against Minnesota last week, was sacked four times and finished 27 for 41 for 283 yards.

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