Sharpe catches 3 TDs for Broncos

DENVER (AP) -- Jake Plummer made all the difference for the
Denver Broncos.

Question on the Chargers: Does Schottenheimer stick with Flutie for another week?
Bringing in Flutie was a quick-fix plan to get a win and to get the Chargers' fans off the coaching staff's backs. They were successful in that regard, but they won't be successful with him as a long-term solution. He's a good spark plug who'll give a team a different look, but the last time he was the starting quarterback for a long period of time, he didn't fare very well. Teams are just going to dust off their defensive plans from two years ago to thwart him if he continues to be the starter.

Question on the Broncos: Is Sharpe the greatest tight end of all time?
This is a difficult decision because there are so many great tight ends. For a player to even be mentioned in the same stratosphere as Dave Casper, Mike Ditka or John Mackey is a great compliment and one that Sharpe deserves. Every coach in the league would love their tight end to emulate his work ethic and level of dedication.

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

Plummer showed no signs of rust in his first game in a month,
throwing for 253 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Broncos to
a 37-8 rout over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

"There's no question you try to minimize the situation when one
of your guys go out," said tight end Shannon Sharpe, who caught
all three of Plummer's touchdown passes. "But Jake brings us to a
dimension we don't have unless he's in the ball game."

No kidding.

With Plummer back after missing four games with foot and
shoulder injuries, Denver (6-4) came flying out of its bye week.

The Broncos dominated from the start, scoring on five of seven
first-half possessions to take a 27-0 lead. Denver had 448 total
yards and held the ball on offense for an amazing 44:11 -- believed
to be a team record -- to end a three-game losing streak.

"Today was a big step for us because we came out and made plays
for the first time in a while," Plummer said.

They sure did.

Sharpe caught seven passes for 101 yards and passed Jerry
Smith's league record for touchdowns by a tight end with 61. He's
already the all-time leader in receptions and yards at his

Rod Smith had a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown and caught
10 passes for 84 yards to become the 29th player in league history
to eclipse 600 receptions (608).

Clinton Portis added 106 yards on 25 carries, and Jason Elam hit
two field goals with a strained groin.

Plummer played like he never left, hitting 23 of 34 passes to
improve to 5-1 as Denver's starter.

"They kept getting first down after first down and there was
nothing we could do about it," Chargers cornerback Sammy Davis

San Diego's offense was even worse, one week after Doug Flutie
led an improbable victory.

The Chargers (2-8) managed just 96 yards -- three in the second
and third quarters -- after gaining a season-high 458 in a 42-28 win
over Minnesota last week. San Diego also had four turnovers and
went 37:47 between their first and second first downs.

Flutie was phenomenal against the Vikings, accounting for four
touchdowns, but wasn't so great against the Broncos.

He was 9-for-25 for 70 yards with an interception and two
fumbles. He at least improved over the first half, when he was
3-for-12 for 15 yards with a quarterback rating of 4.9.

"Things didn't go well," Flutie said. "We aren't all smiles
and happy. It was frustrating not to be able to make a play."

LaDainian Tomlinson, the league's fourth-leading rusher, was
held to 29 yards on eight carries.

"It is very disappointing, one of the most disappointing losses
I've been involved with," Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer
said. "We're out there turning the ball over four times, we can't
hand it off, take the snap, we're dropping balls. It's very, very

And it was bad from the start.

Flutie missed badly on a screen the first play of the game, then
fumbled a snap that Denver's Al Wilson recovered at the Chargers
23-yard line.

Denver failed to convert -- Portis was stopped on
fourth-and-inches -- but Tomlinson fumbled on the next play when
Flutie's handoff came in too high.

The Broncos took advantage this time, scoring on Plummer's
11-yard pass to Sharpe, who celebrated by beating up Denver's
Bronco mascot behind the end zone.

Elam gingerly kicked a 42-yard field goal to put Denver up 10-0,
then followed with a 22-yarder early in the second quarter.

The rout was on four plays later when Smith took off up the
middle for his first career punt return for a touchdown. That put
the Broncos up 20-0 with over eight minutes still left in the half.

Sharpe capped the first half with a 26-yard touchdown catch,
stiff-arming Terrence Kiel the final 5 yards, then added a diving
26-yard touchdown in the third that made it 34-0.

"We just had to make some plays," Sharpe said. "The situation
today was that we made the big plays."

Game notes
Denver WR Ed McCaffrey missed his fourth straight game with
a quadriceps tendon injury. ... Denver swept the season series for
the 13th time. The Broncos beat San Diego 37-13 on Sept. 14. ...
Denver did not punt for the third time in team history, first since
Nov. 4, 1990, against Minnesota. ... San Diego has not won in
Denver since beating the Broncos 12-6 the final game of 1999. The
Chargers have one win there since 1994. ... Punter Micah Knorr
replaced Elam for Denver's final field goal, hitting from 27 yards
in the fourth quarter for the first of his career.

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