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Article Last Updated: 10/31/2005 12:51 AM

denver broncos 49, philadelphia eagles 21

Bye and large

Broncos enter off week 6-2 with Foxworth, Devoe in big roles

By Mike Klis

Denver Post Staff Writer



Of all the nerve, these kids.

Don't they know there has always been a natural order to the Broncos? During practice, in the locker room, throughout the season, at crunch time, the kid Broncos must defer to the veterans. The kids are to be quiet, listen, follow, even carry their shoulder pads during those early days of training camps.

On a dark, sometimes damp Sunday afternoon at Invesco Field at Mile High, a couple of kids named Domonique Foxworth and Todd Devoe pulled rank. The veterans stepped aside while the kids stepped up and made critical plays at knee- shaking moments to push the Broncos past the Philadelphia Eagles 49-21 in one of the wildest games played at the stadium.

Afterward, there was not a drop of bitter envy running through the veins of the veterans.

"They are in the NFL. They're NFL players," said Broncos defensive end Trevor Pryce. "So we expect nothing less of them, quite honestly."

Foxworth, a rookie cornerback, made what was perhaps a game-saving interception in the end zone as the Eagles were driving to complete a 28-point comeback.

"That's the play of the game," said Broncos safety John Lynch, who is in his 13th NFL season.

It was Devoe who allowed the crowd of 76,530 to exhale by turning a short Jake Plummer pass into a 44-yard touchdown play. Those two plays generated a 14-point swing - instead of Donovan McNabb completing the pass and the Eagles tying the game 28-28, the Foxworth interception followed by the Devoe catch-and-run play made it 35-21.

"Like I said, of all people, Todd Devoe," said Plummer, who played perhaps his best game since joining the Broncos in 2003. "People are probably wondering who Todd is, but we knew all along he's got a lot of skills and is a big, strong receiver."

This was a game of three dramatic scoring runs. Motivated to win one for the "House," as the Broncos call veteran offensive lineman Dwayne Carswell, who suffered season-ending injuries during a five-car accident last week, the Broncos jumped out to a 28-0 lead. The Eagles then went on a 21-0 run, sparked by a 91-yard, catch-and-run touchdown by star receiver Terrell Owens, who burned Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, slowed by a hamstring injury.

"He was out there probably playing at 60 percent," Foxworth said of Bailey.

Once Foxworth and Devoe helped the Broncos realize they were not about to blow another big lead, they poured it on. Tatum Bell, another kid in his second year, capped Denver's 21-0 fourth quarter with scoring runs of 67 and 6 yards.

By game's end, the Broncos had turned in one of the most balanced performances in NFL history. Plummer passed for 309 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Mike Anderson rushed for 126 yards and Bell gained 107.

A check with record keepers found it was the first time in NFL history a team had two 100-yard rushers and a 300-yard passer in the same game.

Not only did the Broncos' offense not commit a turnover for a sixth consecutive game, it compiled 564 total yards, the most ever in a Denver victory. The 49 points was one off the team record.

Get the idea? At the center of this offensive dominance is the quarterback. It hasn't been easy for Plummer to win over Broncos fans, but anyone expecting more than the 11 touchdowns against zero interceptions he has compiled in the past six games should spend their days watching footage of Joe Montana.

"With this running game we have going, with my guys up front, what they're doing, there's not many quarterbacks that probably wouldn't be on a roll in this system," Plummer said.

The win meant the Mike Shana- han-coached Broncos did not stumble into the season's halfway point with a 5-3 record, as they did the previous two seasons, but are 6-2 after back-to-back home wins against last season's two Super Bowl participants, New England and Philadelphia.

"When you're the top dog, teams are battling to knock you off the top," Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "A lot of teams are coming after us this season and giving us everything they've got."

At times in the first half, the Broncos seemed to be throwing everything and everybody at McNabb - and still had three or four guys back to cover receivers. McNabb was horrendous early, going 0-for-12 with an interception to start the game. Still, he finished with 283 yards passing, worth three touchdowns.

And he was one great Foxworth play away from bringing the Eagles all the way back. Having blown a 13-point, fourth-quarter lead last week against the New York Giants, the Broncos were nervous, worried and closing in on gagging.

Bailey removed himself from the game, realizing he was hurting the team by trying to play through his hamstring injury. Foxworth replaced him. With the ball at the Broncos' 24, McNabb stepped up and drilled a pass on the line toward Reggie Brown, who had just crossed the end line. Foxworth stepped in front and made the interception.

"Foxworth, I have never seen a guy that young who's so grounded," Broncos veteran receiver Rod Smith said. "I'm like, 'Dude, whatever you're doing, keep doing it and I promise your career is going to be long and prosperous.' He doesn't act like a typical rookie."

On the next drive the Broncos were faced with converting a third-and-11 play, or giving the ball back to McNabb and Owens. Plummer hit Devoe, who had made his first NFL catch earlier in the game. He turned his fifth catch into his first touchdown.

Plummer, Smith and veteran wide receiver Ashley Lelie, who made a solid, downfield block, were among the first to greet Devoe in the end zone.

"We didn't move any veterans aside," Devoe said. "All you can do is learn from those guys. And that's what I do, I sit back and watch. They're good teachers and they welcomed me into their organization with open arms."

Staff writer Mike Klis can be reached at 303-820-5440 or mklis@denverpost.com.


The Broncos accumulated several impressive game and season statistics along the way in their 49-21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles:

564 - Yards of total offense Sunday, second-best in Broncos history.

171 - Consecutive passing attempts by quarterback Jake Plummer without an interception, his longest streak.

100+100 - Mike Anderson rushed for 126 yards and Tatum Bell had 107, the first time two Denver backs ran for 100 or more in the same game since 1997.

25 - Quarters the Broncos' offense has played without a turnover, dating to Sept. 18 against San Diego.

309 - Yards passing for Plummer, his season high and third-best passing game as a Bronco.

100 - Consecutive games in which Rod Smith has made a reception, the sixth-longest active streak in the NFL.

Report card

Offense: A

Despite a pesky three-series stretch in the third quarter in which Denver went three-and-out on all three, the offense was dominant with stretches of 28 and 21 consecutive points. Denver's 564 total yards rank second in team history. Mike Anderson (126) and Tatum Bell (107) became the first Denver tandem to break 100 yards rushing in the same game since 1976. Also, this offense hasn't committed a turnover in 25 quarters.

Defense: B

The Broncos' defensive performance was similar to their offensive effort: great in the first half, terrible in the third quarter and great again in the fourth quarter. Eagles star Donovan McNabb hit some big plays, but completed only 12-of-34 passes. For the most part, Denver contained Philadelphia's running game. Rookie cornerback Domonique Foxworth had the defensive play of the game, an interception in the end zone early in the fourth quarter.

Special teams: B

The Broncos' coverage units were solid again, keeping Philadelphia from breaking a big play. Still, the Broncos' own return game needs a spark.

Coaching: A

Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak told wideout Todd Devoe in practice last week that his 44-yard touchdown reception - which came on a blitz - would work in this game. He told Devoe all he had to do was beat one defender. Great call. It was the offensive play of the game for the Broncos. Defensively, the Broncos took advantage of an injured McNabb and blitzed him like mad, particularly early, helping them jump out to their big lead.

Overall: A

Say what you want about yet another near-blown lead, but Denver basically won this game twice with its 28- and 21-point outbursts. This was a huge game because a loss would have been devastating to Denver. Now the Broncos enter their bye week on pace for a 12-win season.

Extra points


A timely first

With the Eagles surging hard, Denver's offense came alive in a driving rainstorm when quarterback Jake Plummer hit little-used receiver Todd Devoe for a 44-yard touchdown reception on third-and-11 with less than 10 minutes remaining. Devoe's first NFL touchdown gave the Broncos a 35-21 lead.

"It couldn't have come at a better time," Devoe said.


Roughed-up ref

In the first quarter, Philadelphia defensive tackle Mike Patterson was running hard after a play and inadvertently clipped head linesman Paul Weidner. The official flipped over Patterson and landed hard on the grass. Although shaken up, Weidner remained in the game.


Good calls, Coach

Challenger: Denver coach Mike Shanahan. He challenged two calls in the first half, first on a Philadelphia reception and then on an Ashley Lelie reception. Both were overturned in Denver's favor. Shanahan is 7-for-10 on challenges this season.

Dresser: Eagles receiver Terrell Owens, who arrived in Denver wearing a light-colored tuxedo.

Receivers: Lelie and Rod Smith had big games, the kind that can keep a playoff run going.

Tributes: First there was a moment of silence before the game to honor Wellington Mara, the former New York Giants owner who died Tuesday at age 89. Then there was a scoreboard message to Denver offensive lineman Dwayne Carswell, wishing him a speedy recovery. He suffered major injuries Thursday in an auto accident.

Run: Denver quarterback Jake Plummer snaked 22 yards through a big hole to the Eagles' 26 in the second quarter. Five plays later, Denver took a 28-0 lead.

Team effort: The Broncos' punt coverage team had things covered in the first quarter, awaiting a Todd Sauerbrun punt. Cecil Sapp downed the ball at the Eagles' 3.


Misfiring McNabb

Start: Donovan McNabb missed his first 12 pass attempts, including a pass that was intercepted by Denver safety John Lynch.

Miss: Denver star cornerback Champ Bailey, who still is recovering from a hamstring injury, made a mistake by not tackling Terrell Owens, who turned the miscue into a 91-yard touchdown play.

Penalty: Denver's Curome Cox was called for holding on a punt return. Cox had no chance of getting away with his transgression. He had a Philadelphia player pinned for several seconds - right in front of an official.

Offense: In the third quarter, when the Eagles cut the lead from 28-7 to 28-21, the Broncos' offense once again stalled. It had three consecutive three-and-out series, leading to a chorus of boos.

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