With Griese feeling no pain, Broncos top Oakland again

Posted: Tuesday, November 14, 2000

DENVER -- Even John Elway never directed a game-winning drive with a separated throwing shoulder.

That's what Elway's successor, Brian Griese, did Monday night, taking the Denver Broncos 44 yards to beat Oakland 27-24 on a field goal on the game's final play after the Raiders had rallied from a two-touchdown fourth-quarter deficit.

''This was not a game I wanted to miss,'' said Griese, who got a shot to ease the pain after he was hurt when he was driven out of bounds by two Raiders in the first quarter.

''If there was anything at all possible I could do, I wanted to play. It was popping in and out. It was not a good feeling but it was not something that was overly painful after I got the shot.''

Still, he completed 25-of-37 for 262 yards, and threw an 11-yard TD pass to Byron Chamberlain.

''He was in pain but he wanted to play,'' coach Mike Shanahan said. ''That's the way he always is. He wants to play.''

It was the second loss this season for the Raiders (8-2), both to the Broncos, and dropped them into a tie for the NFL's best record with Tennessee, Miami, Minnesota and St. Louis. The result ended a six-game Raiders winning streak that began after Denver beat them 33-24 in Oakland on Sept. 17.

''It was like a playoff game,'' said Jason Elam, whose 41-yard field goal won Monday's game. ''We needed it to stay in the hunt.''

The Broncos (6-4) are still two games behind the Raiders, who could have just about wrapped up the AFC West with a win. But Denver will have the tiebreaker if they can make up those games and the Broncos are in the thick of the AFC wild-card race.

The Broncos took a 24-10 lead early in the fourth quarter on the Griese-Chamberlain hookup.

That capped a string of 17 straight points by the Broncos, who broke a 10-10 tie in the third quarter when rookie Ian Gold blocked Shane Lechler's punt and returned it 12 yards for a TD.

But the Raiders rallied for two TDs, the first on a 1-yard run by Zack Crockett, the second on a 22-yard pass from Rich Gannon to Tim Brown with 1:06 left. The Raiders, without injured running back Tyrone Wheatley, ran for just 38 yards, but Gannon was 30-of-53 for 382 yards.

''We can make all the excuses we want,'' Oakland coach Jon Gruden said. ''I'm not going to sit here and cry sour grapes.

''They made the play,'' he said of the Broncos. ''They showed a lot of resiliency.''

Of Griese, Gruden said: ''You've got to tip your hat to that guy. He's a hell of a quarterback.''

It was Broncos weather -- the temperature fell into the teens in the second half and the wind chill was near zero.

But the Raiders, also without kicker Sebastian Janikowski, dominated the first half, outgaining the Broncos 216-100. Oakland managed to lead by just 10-7 because of three turnovers and a plethora of penalties.

Denver took a 7-0 lead just 3:28 into the game on Terrell Davis' 5-yard run after Ray Crockett intercepted a Gannon pass at the Oakland 39 on the game's third play from scrimmage.

A 19-yard field goal by Brett Conway -- subbing for Janikowski, whose infected foot kept him out -- cut it to 7-3. Then Zack Crockett went in from a yard away with just under three minutes left in the half to give the Raiders a 10-7 lead.

The Broncos used the first 7:35 of the second half to drive 70 yards to the Oakland 4-yard line. But Davis was stuffed for no gain on third down and Denver had to settle for Elam's 23-yard field goal that tied the game at 10.

Just over two minutes later, Gold, a rookie linebacker, broke up the middle and blocked Lechler's punt, then picked it up and ran into the end zone.

Then Griese directed a flawless 83-yard drive, going 6-for-6 for 73 yards and throwing to Chamberlain for the score. And the defense stopped the Raiders on four downs from their 10 after a 49-yard completion from Gannon to Andre Rison.

But the Raiders scored on their next two possessions, setting the stage for Elam.

Now Oakland hopes to see Denver in the playoffs.

''Things swing,'' fullback Jon Richie said. ''Next time we'll have their number. ...

''Hopefully.''

Notes: Shanahan was fired by the Raiders four games into his second season as their coach and is now 11-1 against Oakland. ... Seven of Oakland's 12 turnover this season are against Denver. ... The Broncos' Rod Smith went over 1,000 yards receiving for the fourth straight season, tying a team record. ... Andre Rison of the Raiders went over 10,000 yards receiving for his career. ... The last time the Broncos blocked a punt for a touchdown was on Nov. 11, 1979, when Rob Nairne returned a kick 22 yards against New England. ... Defensive end Tony Bryant of the Raiders injured his hyoid, a bone in the throat area. ... Broncos guard Mark Schlereth injured his left knee, on which he has had surgery 14 times in his career. ... Denver defensive back Darryl Pounds dislocated his right elbow.



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