Beuerlein provides spark after Griese hurts knee

SEATTLE (AP) -- Even at 37, Steve Beuerlein still gets
butterflies when he goes into a game. Yet the 16-year veteran was
steady as could be when the Denver Broncos needed him Sunday.

Question on the Broncos: Are they in good hands with Beuerlein if Griese has to miss some time?
I think so. Earlier this season, when coach Shanahan was considering replacing Brian Griese, he was confident that Steve Beuerlein could do the job. Beuerlein is a solid quarterback who can prosper in the Bronco system.

Question on the Seahawks: What's going on with Shaun Alexander -- 215 rushing yards in the past five games?
The knock on him right now is that he won't fight for tough yards between the tackles. He's content to be a slasher and an outside rusher, but that's not enough in this league. He needs to be willing to go hard up the middle and fight for extra yards.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Beuerlein put aside his anxiety to throw two fourth-quarter
touchdown passes after Brian Griese left with a sprained knee,
leading the Broncos to a 31-9 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

When Griese went down late in the third period, Beuerlein
snatched his helmet and felt his belly tighten.

"I was a little nervous,'' Beuerlein said. "People might be
surprised: How can a guy as old as me get nervous? Well, I still
play the game like a kid. I get butterflies. I play with emotion,
and I was excited to get out there.''

Clinton Portis ran for 136 yards on 23 carries and Deltha O'Neal
returned a late interception 22 yards for a TD as the Broncos (7-3)
rebounded from an embarrassing 34-10 Monday night loss to the
Oakland Raiders.

"The difference was a sense of urgency,'' said Rod Smith, who
caught a 14-yard scoring pass from Beuerlein. "Everybody had to
play a little bit harder.''

Griese left after throwing to Smith for a 16-yard gain to the
Seattle 1. Seattle rookie Rocky Bernard hit Griese's knee on the
play, drawing a penalty.

"He turned back over and was pushing me in the back and I
dove,'' said Bernard, who explained he wasn't trying to hit Griese
low. "I was trying to avoid him, but I really couldn't.''

An MRI exam is planned Monday to determine the severity of
Griese's injury.

Griese completed 17 of 27 passes for 194 yards with one
interception. Beuerlein threw only two passes, both for TDs.

Beuerlein went right to work when he entered.

After the Seahawks held on three running plays, he rolled right
and tossed a 1-yard TD pass to diving tight end Patrick Hape,
giving the Broncos a 17-6 lead on the first play of the fourth

"Patrick Hape bailed him out a little bit,'' Denver coach Mike
Shanahan said. "That was a nice catch.''

That play was a backbreaker for the struggling Seahawks (3-7),
who failed to score a touchdown for the second straight game at

It came on fourth down after Seattle made a goal-line stand that
energized the crowd of 65,495. Beuerlein was denied twice and
Portis another time when the Broncos tried to punch it in.

"When we got back to the sideline after that first touchdown,
we thought, 'We've got to ice this one, get home and get ready for
next week,''' Beuerlein said.

Seattle had three young linebackers -- Orlando Huff, Marcus Bell
and Tim Terry -- making their first start together because of
injuries. The Broncos ran for 202 yards against the NFL's worst
rushing defense.

"Anytime you catch a team short-handed, you have to shove it
down their throats,'' Portis said.

Trailing 10-6 in the third, the Seahawks seemed poised to wake
up offensively after a sluggish first half in which they had only
55 yards. The Broncos led 3-0 at the break on Jason Elam's 45-yard
field goal.

In last week's 27-6 victory at Arizona, the Seahawks scored on
their first five possessions. But the offense was inconsistent this
time, with Seattle held to 51 yards rushing by the NFL's best team
against the run.

"They're good against the run,'' Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren
said. "They've done what they did today against most of the teams
they've played. We thought our best chance to move the ball was to

Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck was 22-of-36 for 180 yards, but
struggled from Denver's pass rush. He was sacked five times for
minus-27 yards.

"I tried to play a smart game,'' Hasselbeck said. "I wasn't
perfect. I was far from perfect. I just wasn't on the same page as
my guys.''

The outcome already was decided when O'Neal stepped in front of
a pass for James Williams, going untouched into the end zone with
14 seconds to play. It was his fourth interception of the season,
and he has scored twice.

"Our margin for error is not very big,'' Holmgren said. "We
have to make plays. We can't drop balls.''

Game notes
Seahawks rookie RB Maurice Morris was declared inactive. He
strained his right hamstring in practice last week. ... The former
AFC West rivals aren't scheduled to play again during the regular
season until 2006 at Denver. ... Each team converted 4-of-14 third
downs. ... Denver DT Chester McGlockton was credited with 1.5
sacks. ... Williams made a nice one-handed catch for an 18-yard
gain early in the third quarter. ... Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander
ran for 18 yards on 11 carries.

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