Chargers 16

(5-4, 1-3 away)

Broncos 26

(5-4, 4-1 home)

Coverage: CBS

4:05 PM ET, November 11, 2001


1 2 3 4 T
SD 0 0 3 1316
DEN 3 17 6 026

Flutie's three second-half INTs stop rally

DENVER (AP) -- With the head coach peering over their shoulders, Denver defenders responded with their best game of the season.

Mike Shanahan vowed to take a more active role in the defense after a one-sided loss in Oakland last week, and his hands-on approach helped produce a 26-16 win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

How big a difference does having a healthy Terrell Davis make for the Broncos?
It showed today. The Broncos had been struggling in recent weeks running the ball. But Davis gave them a ground game today. He looked strong and explosive to the hole. His running opened things up for quarterback Brian Griese and wide receiver Rod Smith. Davis also caught the ball coming out of the backfield (five catches).'s Vinny Cerrato was director of player personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.

"I'm only here to help," Shanahan insisted. "We've got a guy as our defensive coordinator (Ray Rhodes) that I have the utmost respect for. Just because we were down last week, I felt I could give the defense some attention and a fresh look. Our defensive coaches did a great job with the game plan."

The Broncos yielded just 243 total yards and nine first downs -- both season lows.

On the other side of the ball, Brian Griese eyed a wounded San Diego defense and showed no mercy.

Griese threw two touchdown passes just 39 seconds apart late in the first half, and the Broncos later overcame moments of generosity.

Denver (5-4), moving into a second-place tie with San Diego (5-4) in the AFC West, capitalized on a sprained left knee sustained by San Diego's leading tackler, safety Rodney Harrison, and injuries to linebacker Orlando Ruff (stinger) and cornerback Alex Molden (left ankle).

The Broncos built a 26-3 lead midway through the third quarter. San Diego rallied with a long touchdown pass and a fumble recovery for a touchdown, but Doug Flutie subsequently threw three interceptions.

Griese completed 21 of 31 passes for 224 yards.

Terrell Davis, playing in his second straight game after a siege of injuries for two seasons, rushed for 83 yards on 33 carries.

Jason Elam kicked four field goals for the Broncos, who took a 20-0 halftime lead on Griese's two TD throws -- in the final 1:07 of the first half.

Both passes were to tight ends as Denver was short-handed at wide receiver when Eddie Kennison was declared inactive for the game after telling Shanahan he was retiring Saturday night. Receiver Scottie Montgomery was sidelined with a twisted left knee in the first half.

"I thought our tight ends and backup receivers did a great job," Griese said.

San Diego lost Harrison in the first quarter. Kick returner Ronney Jenkins (sprained neck) and backup running back Terrell Fletcher (left ankle) also went down with injuries.

"They started faster than we did," Chargers coach Mike Riley said. "We had absolutely nothing, no edge at the start of the game. We just were outplayed."

Elam's 25-yard field goal capped Denver's first possession. Early in the second quarter, Rod Smith turned a short pass into a 32-yard gain, setting up Elam's 29-yarder.

Moments later, San Diego crossed midfield for the only time in the half, but on third down Flutie was sacked by Trevor Pryce for an 18-yard loss.

Denver then went 77 yards in nine plays for the game's first touchdown. Griese's 17-yard pass to Smith set up his 18-yarder to tight end Desmond Clark in the corner of the end zone with 1:07 left in the half.

Three plays later, linebacker John Mobley intercepted Flutie's underthrown pass and returned it 17 yards to the San Diego 3. Griese hit tight end Dwayne Carswell for a score on the next play.

San Diego's Reggie Jones fumbled a punt at the Chargers 9, setting up a Denver field goal early in the third quarter. Jones atoned himself, returning the ensuing kickoff 74 yards to set up San Diego's first score, Wade Richey's 29-yard field goal.

Chris Cole's 48-yard kickoff return helped set up Elam's 33-yard field goal, putting Denver ahead 26-3.

The Broncos, however, looked about to give the game away early in the fourth quarter. A blown coverage left Curtis Conway wide open down the middle, and he hauled in Flutie's pass for a 72-yard scoring play.

Four minutes later, Griese coughed up the ball while being pressured by linebacker Gerald Dixon, and defensive end Raylee Johnson lumbered 45 yards with the fumble recovery for a touchdown. The 2-point conversion failed, and San Diego trailed 26-16 with 10:57 left.

Game notes
Griese became the fastest Denver quarterback to throw 50 TD passes, doing it in 34 games. John Elway did it in 46 games. ... Flutie completed 12 of 31 passes for 165 yards and one TD with four interceptions, a passer rating of 27.7. ... LaDainian Tomlinson, who ran for 75 yards, had three 100-yard rushing efforts in his first four games but hasn't had one since. ... San Diego, which won the first meeting with the Broncos 27-10 three weeks ago, hasn't swept the annual two-game series since 1982.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

Drive info: 1 plays, 3 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 1 plays, 45 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 1 plays, 3 yds, 0:00
denFG11:58Jason Elam 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 3 plays, 1 yds, 0:56
sdFG9:59Wade Richey 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 4 plays, 4 yds, 0:57
Drive info: 2 plays, 79 yds, 11:51
Drive info: 2 plays, 79 yds, 11:51
denFG5:42Jason Elam 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 8 plays, 37 yds, 3:31
Drive info: 9 plays, 77 yds, 3:21
Drive info: 9 plays, 77 yds, 3:21
denFG8:16Jason Elam 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 69 yds, 4:16
denFG6:46Jason Elam 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 13 plays, 62 yds, 7:07