Archive for Sunday, December 18, 2005

Broncos lock up berth

Rod Smith provides spark as Denver rolls over Bills, 28-17

December 18, 2005


— Leave it to the sure-handed Rod Smith to help the Denver Broncos clinch a playoff berth.

Smith had 11 catches for 137 yards - both season-highs - and a touchdown, leading the Broncos to a 28-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night.

The win clinched Denver (11-3) its third straight playoff berth, and the team can claim the AFC West title if San Diego loses to Indianapolis today. The Broncos also have won 11 games for the first time since 2000.

"That's been our goal from the start," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "It's nice to be in the situation we're in."

Referring to Smith as "a consummate pro," Shanahan said, "He's one of the reasons we're having the success we're having, people like him."

Jake Plummer went 20-of-37 for 259 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie tight end Wesley Duke, with his first career catch, scored the go-ahead touchdown on a one-yard reception early in the third quarter. Mike Anderson sealed the victory with 11- and six-yard touchdown runs in the final 16 minutes and finished with 97 yards rushing.

Buffalo's Jeff Posey (96) tackles Denver's Mike Anderson in the first quarter of the Broncos' 28-17 victory. Denver won Saturday night in Orchard Park, N.Y.

Buffalo's Jeff Posey (96) tackles Denver's Mike Anderson in the first quarter of the Broncos' 28-17 victory. Denver won Saturday night in Orchard Park, N.Y.

Smith, however, was the story for Denver, emerging as the team's only first-half threat when his 119 yards receiving made up more than half of the Broncos' 210 yards offense.

Smith's three-yard touchdown reception came on a busted play, tying the game at 7 at the end of the second quarter. Smith scored when he out-jumped safety Troy Vincent, coming down with the ball just inside the end line after Plummer's pass was tipped by linebacker London Fletcher.

The Bills (4-10) closed their home schedule with their fifth straight loss. They have dropped seven of their last eight.

Willis McGahee scored on a one-yard run on the Bills' opening drive, but was limited the rest of the game - finishing with 40 yards on five carries - after he hurt his left arm. Joe Burns also scored on a 19-yard catch in the final minutes.

Eric Moulds had nine catches for 110 yards, returning to the lineup after serving a one-game suspension last weekend for conduct detrimental to the team. The 10-year veteran, whose future in Buffalo is uncertain beyond this season, could have also been playing his final home game in a Bills uniform.

The Broncos took control in the second half, going ahead 14-7 on their first possession of the third quarter when Plummer capped a 10-play, 69-yard drive with a one-yard completion to Duke on a fade route in the left corner.

Denver limited the Bills to Rian Lindell's 31-yard field goal on Buffalo's following drive. Broncos linebacker Al Wilson made a key play, batting down Kelly Holcomb's pass intended for Josh Reed over the middle when Buffalo faced third-and-five at the Denver 13.

Anderson put the Broncos ahead 21-10 on their next possession, capping a nine-play, 70-yard drive.

Holcomb, a journeyman backup, made his first start in five games in place of J.P. Losman, who hurt his throwing shoulder and left leg in last weekend's 35-7 loss to New England.

Holcomb finished 22-of-35 for 202 yards.

Smith, the Broncos' all-time leading receiver, now has 1,003 yards for the season, breaking the 1,000-yard mark for the eighth time in nine seasons.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.