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Plummer Does Enough to Clear Broncos' Way

September 29, 2003|From Associated Press

DENVER — Coming off a victory over Oakland and with a trip to Kansas City next on the schedule, Denver was due for a letdown against Detroit.

It happened, but the Broncos found a way to win thanks to Jake Plummer.

The Denver quarterback, in his first season with the team, completed 16 consecutive passes in the first half and threw for two touchdowns as the Broncos held on to beat the Lions, 20-16, Sunday for Coach Mike Shanahan's 100th victory.

Of Plummer, Bronco running back Mike Anderson said: "I think he responded well to the pressure. You can tell he's a guy who is getting more and more comfortable with this system. He's starting to really get it."

Even with running back Clinton Portis out because of a bruised chest, the Broncos figured to have an easy time with Detroit, which hadn't won on the road in nearly three years.

But Denver had only 79 yards rushing and 136 total yards in the second half and let the Lions hang around until the end.

It wasn't until Detroit quarterback Joey Harrington's fourth-and-10 pass with 1:27 left -- from the Lions' 32-yard line -- fell incomplete that the Broncos secured their fifth 4-0 start in team history. Denver has gone to the Super Bowl the other four times, including 1998 after a 13-0 start.

Plummer, whose first-half touchdown pass plays were for 29 yards to Ashley Lelie and one yard to Shannon Sharpe, completed 25 of 34 passes for 277 yards for the game. Sharpe had seven catches for the game, pushing him past James Lofton for 10th place on the all-time receptions list with 766.

Harrington matched Plummer's two touchdowns after having none in the previous two games, but he wasn't exactly sharp.

With tape holding his fingers together, he completed 15 of 33 passes for 149 yards and was way off target at times.

"I just missed some, rushed some," said Harrington, who dislocated a finger last week against Minnesota. "It's a good football team and they force you to do some things that you don't necessarily want to do."

"I think we grew up a little bit today," said Lion Coach Steve Mariucci, whose team is 1-3. "We have more growing up to do, obviously, but I think we learned something today -- that if we play as well as we can, we can beat some teams."

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