Plummer also suffered shoulder separation

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The Denver Broncos lost their starting
quarterback midway through the second quarter and their top running
back was gone by halftime.

They still manhandled the San Diego Chargers, winning 37-13
Sunday for their second straight road victory.

Question on the Broncos: Where do you rank Portis among the top RBs?
I rank Portis in the top 3 of NFL running backs. He has the ability to break the big run, catch the ball out of the backfield and doesn't have fumble problems. He's a great multi-purpose back.

Question on the Chargers: Is a healthy David Boston going to help this offense?

The question might be: Will we see a healthy Boston? When he's healthy, he definitely has the ability to make a difference on this team.

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

Shannon Sharpe, one of three wide-open Broncos receivers who
caught touchdown passes, credited coach Mike Shanahan's system that
Denver was OK after losing Jake Plummer and Clinton Portis.

"You get a system, you get guys who fit our system, one guy
goes out, we don't miss a beat," Sharpe said. "Yeah, we're
disappointed we lost those guys, but we're just going to keep
chugging away, finding a way to get guys in there who want to

Plummer got a mild separation of his right shoulder when he
dived out of bounds after getting a first down. He stayed in for
two more plays, long enough to throw his third touchdown pass in
less than two quarters. Steve Beuerlein replaced Plummer.

Portis bruised his sternum and missed the second half, when Mike
Anderson filled in.

Shanahan had the team announce Plummer's injury was a
concussion. He admitted afterward he lied.

"If Steve went down on the first or second play and Jake went
in there with a separated shoulder, they would know that we could
not throw the football," Shanahan said. "So, for his sake and our
sake I had to fib a little bit."

It might not have mattered, because the Broncos continued to
dominate the punchless Chargers (0-2).

Portis had 129 yards on 12 carries, including runs of 25 and 58
yards to set up Denver's first two touchdowns. Portis was hurt on
the Broncos' last possession of the first half.

Plummer redeemed himself for his awful performance in his Denver
debut, when he threw three interceptions and no touchdown passes
for a 21.7 rating in the opening win at Cincinnati.

Of course, playing San Diego helped. The Chargers had the NFL's
worst pass defense and third-worst defense overall last year, and
they didn't look much better Sunday.

All three of Plummer's TD passes were to wide-open receivers,
including tackle Cooper Carlisle, who's had an undistinguished
four-year career as a backup.

Plummer dived for a first down midway through the second
quarter, landing hard out of bounds. He stayed in and threw a
6-yard TD pass to Carlisle for a 21-3 lead. Carlisle, inactive for
15 of 16 games last year, reported as a tackle-eligible and wasn't

"I don't think they had a whole lot of respect for my receiving
skills," Carlisle joked.

Plummer finished 9-of-13 for 94 yards, with no interceptions.
Beuerlein was 7-of-16 for 98 yards.

The Chargers are 0-2 for the first time since 2000, when they
lost their first 11 and finished 1-15. Including last year's
collapse, the Chargers have lost six straight games and nine of 11.

"I'm embarrassed, because I know that we can do better," coach
Marty Schottenheimer said. "We've gotten behind early and we're
not good at playing catch-up football."

The Chargers, who came into the season thinking they'd break
their seven-year playoff drought, were booed often by the crowd of
65,445. The only worse defeat in a Chargers home opener was 37-0 to
Pittsburgh in 1975.

Plummer looked awful early with two straight overthrows, then
having his arm hit by defensive end Marcellus Wiley as he released.
But a pass interference call on Quentin Jammer got the Broncos to
their 47. Portis ran 25 yards to help set up Plummer's 34-yard TD
throw to Reuben Droughns.

Portis had a 58-yard run on the next drive, capped by Plummer's
1-yard pass to Sharpe.

Sharpe made a one-handed catch of a 26-yard pass from Beuerlein
late in the third quarter and Mike Anderson scored on a 1-yard run
for a 31-13 lead.

San Diego's only touchdown was Drew Brees' 23-yard pass to Eric
Parker late in the first half.

Denver's Jason Elam had field goals of 31, 45 and 34 yards, and
San Diego's Steve Christie made field goals of 19 and 25 yards.

San Diego's David Boston, signed to a $47 million free-agent
contract in the offseason, missed the game with a bruised heel.

San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson had 93 yards on 16 carries.
Brees was 20-of-41 for 182 yards, with one TD and one
^Notes: Christie has 301 field goals, the 14th player to reach 300.
... Chargers WR Reche Caldwell dislocated his left wrist and will
have surgery Monday. He's expected to miss eight weeks. Chargers TE
Stephen Alexander (groin) LB Donnie Edwards (groin), DE Marcellus
Wiley (hamstring), DT Dequincy Scott (ankle) and G Kelvin Garmon
(elbow) were hurt.


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