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Portis scores four TDs as Broncos stay alive

DENVER (AP) -- With the seconds ticking down and another opponent
driving in a close game, the Denver Broncos were expecting the
worst.

After three straight close losses -- two in overtime -- who could
blame them? But this time it had a different ending.

Question on the Chiefs: Should they target WRs in the offseason or should they work on the development of Marc Boerigter and Dante Hall?
The Chiefs have a collection of capable receivers (also Marvin "Snoop" Minnis). The coaches need to develop an offensive approach that incorporates all positions. RB Priest Holmes is a terrific talent, but when he's the focus of the offense, it makes it tough on Kansas City when he's having a bad day or when a defense has game-planned him effectively. Hall is a game-breaker, and WR Johnnie Morton may have underachieved because of the emphasis on Holmes. To reach their potential as a team, the Chiefs might need to rely on Holmes less next season.

Question on the Broncos: Do you see them securing a playoff spot?
Today's win was huge. Next week's game at Oakland is even bigger. If the Broncos win next week, then they can talk about the playoffs more seriously. They finish the season at home vs. the Cardinals. But the outcome against the Raiders will determine their season.

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

Clinton Portis overcame two first-half fumbles and tied a team
record with four touchdowns as the Broncos held on to beat the
Kansas City Chiefs 31-24 Sunday to keep alive their playoff hopes.

Losses by Oakland and San Diego early Sunday allowed Denver
(8-6) to stay within a game of the AFC West lead, but it didn't
come easy.

The Broncos dominated early, allowed Kansas City (7-7) to score
17 points in the final 15 minutes, then held on as Trent Green's
desperation pass fell incomplete in the end zone as time expired.

"As the game was winding down, I was saying 'Not another
overtime game. I can't take another overtime game,''' Broncos
defensive tackle Lional Dalton said.

The Broncos, one of the AFC's best teams after opening the
season 7-3, had stumbled to the edge of not making the playoffs
with four losses in five games. Denver's three-game losing streak
had come by a combined 12 points and the Broncos appeared headed
toward another heartbreaker against Kansas City.

The Chiefs took over at their 39 with 1:50 left and drove to
Denver's 15 with 25 seconds left. But a leg-whip by John Tait
dropped the Chiefs back to the 25, then Green failed on a pass
attempt with 5 seconds left.

Kansas City had one final shot, but Tyrone Poole knocked it down
in the end zone as time expired.

The loss all but assured the Chiefs would miss the playoffs for
the fifth straight year.

"This was big,'' said Green, who 18-for-42 for 310 yards and
badly missed open receivers on several occasions. "Once they
flashed it up on the scoreboard that the other teams had lost, and
knowing we play those two teams the next couple of weeks, it was
very costly.''

The Chiefs were lucky to be in the game after having had to
piece together their lineup.

Fullback Tony Richardson had to be carted off the field after
being hit from behind by John Mobley early in the second quarter.
Coach Dick Vermeil said he suffered a separated shoulder and is
likely out for the season.

Priest Holmes had 161 yards on 18 carries, his fifth straight
100-yard game, but limped off to the locker room with a right hip
injury early in the fourth quarter. He left on crutches, but
Vermeil wasn't sure how long he'd be out.

Receiver Dante Hall, who had five catches for 143 yards and two
touchdowns, also was on crutches with an ankle sprain.

"We were out of personnel. We were out of backs,'' Vermeil
said. "That was a scramble.''

Portis, who was fighting the flu, ran for three touchdowns and
130 yards, his third-straight 100-yard game. He also had a
spectacular 66-yard touchdown catch late in the third quarter that
put the Broncos up 28-7.

"I wouldn't tell the coaches that I was sick,'' Portis said.
"I knew I could run and give them whatever I had.''

Portis had touchdown runs of 51 and 3 yards as Denver dominated
the first half, but he fumbled twice inside Kansas City's 20 to
limit the Broncos' lead to 14-0.

The Chiefs cut the lead in half on a 75-yard touchdown pass from
Green to Hall early in the third quarter, but Portis answered with
a 1-yard touchdown run.

He followed with a 66-yard touchdown reception that extended the
lead to 21 and left Kansas City's Shaunard Harts standing still.

Portis caught the ball around midfield, then left Harts
flatfooted at the 45. He broke tackles near the 30 and 25, then
outran the rest of Kansas City's defense before diving into the
stands behind the end zone.

"I told him at halftime, 'You had two balls on the ground, but
we're going to count on you. This team is going to go as far as you
take us, and we're going to keep giving you the ball,'' said
Broncos quarter Brian Griese, who completed 11 of his first 12
passes and finished 18-for-26 for 297 yards. "And he responded.''

Game notes
Poole replaced struggling CB Deltha O'Neal in the starting
lineup. ... Kansas City's Morten Andersen, who's been bothered by a
sore right knee, was 1-for-2 on field goals. ... Portis set a team
rookie record with his seventh 100-yard game. His four TDs tied
Mike Anderson's team record, set Dec. 3, 2000, against New Orleans.
... Denver has won 27 straight games at home when a running back
runs for 100 yards. ... Holmes failed to run for a TD for the first
time in 12 games.

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