Archive for Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Broncos drop Giants

Denver wins, 31-20, but loses McCaffrey

September 11, 2001

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— It was a bittersweet celebration for the Denver Broncos.

Playing their first game in a new stadium, the Broncos welcomed back former MVP Terrell Davis and showed why they are considered Super Bowl contenders with a 31-20 victory over the New York Giants on Monday night.

New York wide receiver Amani Toomer, right, pulls in a 43-yard
touchdown pass ahead of Denver safety Kenoy Kennedy. The Broncos
beat the Giants, 31-20, on Monday in Denver.

New York wide receiver Amani Toomer, right, pulls in a 43-yard touchdown pass ahead of Denver safety Kenoy Kennedy. The Broncos beat the Giants, 31-20, on Monday in Denver.

While Davis proved healthy with 101 yards on 21 carries, Denver lost starting wide receiver Ed McCaffrey to a broken leg. McCaffrey, who caught a team-record 101 passes last year, is scheduled to have surgery and will miss the rest of the season.

"Everybody wanted to do well, and then one of your best guys goes down," said McCaffrey's replacement, Eddie Kennison. "I'll say it for all the guys, this victory was for Eddie Mac."

The devastating injury to McCaffrey seemed to inspire the Broncos, particularly Rod Smith, who caught a 25-yard touchdown pass that gave Denver a 21-14 lead three plays after McCaffrey was injured midway through the third quarter.

The Broncos also scored on their first two possessions of the fourth quarter, ensuring they would open $400 million Invesco Field at Mile High on a winning note.

"The intensity level picked up 100 percent," said Kennison, who had a 36-yard catch that set up Denver's final touchdown.

Smith, one of McCaffrey's best friends, finished with nine catches for 115 yards, and Brian Griese, eight months removed from reconstructive shoulder surgery, was 21-of-29 for 330 yards and three touchdowns.

"Rod is an intelligent receiver," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "He's a guy that you count on to step up in adversity."

The Giants, still seeking respect after winning the NFC title last year, had trouble running the ball and were hampered by the absences of starting cornerback Jason Sehorn (sore knee) and starting receiver Ike Hilliard (sore foot).

New York had 308 yards total offense 90 coming in the final five minutes and Sehorn's replacement, rookie Will Peterson, repeatedly was beaten by Smith and McCaffrey. Dave Thomas also struggled to contain Denver's receivers even after McCaffrey left the game.

One of New York's best players was first-year punter Rodney Williams, who set a team record with a 90-yard punt in the third quarter and two more kicks over 60 yards.

Amani Toomer also had a big night with two touchdown catches for the Giants, who lost their season-opener for the first time in five years under coach Jim Fassel.

For the better part of three quarters, it seemed like the Giants would gain the respect they have been seeking from pundits who dismissed last year's playoff run as an aberration.

New York tied it at 14 on Toomer's contested 11-yard touchdown catch less than five minutes into the third quarter. The Broncos challenged the score, saying Toomer stepped out of bounds at about the 3, but the replacement officials upheld the touchdown.

The replacements had a sloppy but otherwise unassuming night in the national spotlight.

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