Griese, running game lift Broncos

DENVER (AP) -- Brian Griese is changing his reputation of playing
poorly in the clutch.

Question on the Bills: Is there any hope of tweaking Buffalo's defense so Drew Bledsoe isn't forced to try to win shootouts?
I believe so. I don't think it's going to be a difficult adjustment for the defense. It could be a matter of blitzing or not blitzing, or developing better zone principles. Bledsoe is as hot as any QB right now, and it's true that he's not getting much defensive support. With better play from the D, the Bills could be 3-0 instead of 1-2

Question on the Broncos: Are they as balanced on both sides of the ball as New England and Miami?
Yes. Right now, the Broncos are in the upper-echelon of the NFL and have the balance to challenge for the Super Bowl. They're right there with the Patriots, Dolphins and Raiders as the top teams not just in the AFC but in the NFL. Those four AFC teams are the class of the league right now. I'm not talking on paper and what-ifs, but on Sunday, on the field, those four teams have demonstrated that they can vie for the Super Bowl. From the NFC, the Saints are probably the fifth-best team so far.

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

Griese threw for 211 yards and two touchdowns, and led Denver on
a key scoring drive for the third consecutive week as the Broncos
beat the Buffalo Bills 28-23 Sunday.

"It's becoming a trend for us offensively to put a drive
together in the fourth quarter,'' said Griese, who has won three
straight games for the first time in his five-year career. "I
would prefer to put the game away in the first half like we should
have, but we'll take it.''

Griese, the worst-rated passer in the fourth quarter last
season, has been the league's best this year.

After leading the Broncos on decisive scoring drives against St.
Louis and San Francisco the first two weeks, Griese took the
Broncos 80 yards for a touchdown after the Bills pulled within
21-16 midway through the fourth quarter.

Griese was 6-of-9 for 62 yards on the final drive, capping it
with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Rod Smith with 2:39 left. He also
kept the drive alive with a 6-yard pass to Smith on fourth-and-5
from the Buffalo 37-yard line.

Griese is 16-of-20 for 165 yards with three touchdowns and no
interceptions in the fourth quarter this season. He finished
19-of-31 overall against Buffalo.

"This is what it's all about -- stepping up in crunch time when
a play is needed,'' Denver fullback Mike Anderson said.

Denver shut down a high-scoring offense for the third
consecutive week to start 3-0 for the first time since 1998, when
they won their second straight Super Bowl.

Buffalo (1-2) entered the game as the league leader in yards
passing and points, and was second in total yards, but finished
with just 291 yards -- 39 rushing.

Buffalo's Drew Bledsoe, who set a franchise record with 463
yards passing against Minnesota last week, was sacked four times
and finished 27-of-41 for 283 yards.

"That's just the Broncos' nature,'' Buffalo cornerback Chris
Watson said. "They have you by the throat and they want to
strangle you and keep strangling you. That is how they play ball.''

Denver lost starting tailback Olandis Gary early with a sprained
left ankle, but didn't miss a beat behind a career-high game from
rookie Clinton Portis.

Portis had been used primarily as a third-down back in the first
two games, but gained 103 yards against Buffalo. His 1-yard
touchdown early in the second quarter, the first of his career, put
the Broncos up 14-0.

"It's a start,'' said Portis, who played most of the game with
a sore shoulder. "It just lets me know I can go out and play with
these guys.''

Gary said he should be ready to play next week.

Denver struggled for much of the second and third quarters, but
finally got rolling late in the third.

The Broncos moved 80 yards in 11 plays, taking a 21-10 lead on a
1-yard touchdown pass from Griese to Dwayne Carswell. Griese kept
the drive alive by squeezing a 16-yard pass between two defenders
to Ashley Lelie on third-and-13 near midfield.

Buffalo got a break midway through the fourth when Denver punter
Tom Rouen fumbled a snap and was tackled at the Broncos 12-yard

Buffalo scored three plays later when Bledsoe avoided a blitz
and threw across his body to Josh Reed for a 4-yard touchdown. Ian
Gold swatted away Bledsoe's pass on the 2-point conversion, making
it 21-16 with 7:35 left.

After Smith's touchdown, Buffalo moved 70 yards in seven plays
and scored on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Bledsoe to Eric Moulds
with 1:12 left, but Smith recovered the onside kick to seal the

"We have to start faster,'' Bledsoe said. "We are digging
holes for ourselves and leaving ourselves with problems at the end
of games that are hard to overcome.''

Game notes
Denver has reached the Super Bowl five of the previous
seven times it started the season 3-0. ... Smith finished with
seven catches and is the Broncos' all-time leader in TD receptions
with 46. ... Buffalo has not won in Denver since 1967, when both
teams were in the AFL. ... Buffalo's Larry Centers has caught a
pass in 139 straight games, the third-longest streak in the league.
... Denver has not allowed a point in the first quarter this
season. ... Griese has thrown a TD pass in 18 straight games, the
longest active streak in the league.


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