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Denver at San Diego

Plummer, Portis hurt but Broncos don't miss a beat

SportsLine.com wire reports

SAN DIEGO -- The Denver Broncos lost their starting quarterback midway through the second quarter and their top running back was gone by halftime.

They still manhandled the San Diego Chargers, winning 37-13 Sunday for their second straight road victory.

Shannon Sharpe, one of three wide-open Broncos receivers who caught touchdown passes, credited coach Mike Shanahan's system that Denver was OK after losing Jake Plummer and Clinton Portis.

"You get a system, you get guys who fit our system, one guy goes out, we don't miss a beat," Sharpe said. "Yeah, we're disappointed we lost those guys, but we're just going to keep chugging away, finding a way to get guys in there who want to play."

Plummer got a mild separation of his right shoulder when he dived out of bounds after getting a first down. He stayed in for two more plays, long enough to throw his third touchdown pass in less than two quarters. Steve Beuerlein replaced Plummer.

Portis bruised his sternum and missed the second half, when Mike Anderson filled in.

Shanahan had the team announce Plummer's injury was a concussion. He admitted afterward he lied.

"If Steve went down on the first or second play and Jake went in there with a separated shoulder, they would know that we could not throw the football," Shanahan said. "So, for his sake and our sake I had to fib a little bit."

It might not have mattered, because the Broncos continued to dominate the punchless Chargers (0-2).

Portis had 129 yards on 12 carries, including runs of 25 and 58 yards to set up Denver's first two touchdowns. Portis was hurt on the Broncos' last possession of the first half.

Plummer redeemed himself for his awful performance in his Denver debut, when he threw three interceptions and no touchdown passes for a 21.7 rating in the opening win at Cincinnati.

Of course, playing San Diego helped. The Chargers had the NFL's worst pass defense and third-worst defense overall last year, and they didn't look much better Sunday.

All three of Plummer's TD passes were to wide-open receivers, including tackle Cooper Carlisle, who's had an undistinguished four-year career as a backup.

Plummer dived for a first down midway through the second quarter, landing hard out of bounds. He stayed in and threw a 6-yard TD pass to Carlisle for a 21-3 lead. Carlisle, inactive for 15 of 16 games last year, reported as a tackle-eligible and wasn't covered.

"I don't think they had a whole lot of respect for my receiving skills," Carlisle joked.

Plummer finished 9-of-13 for 94 yards, with no interceptions. Beuerlein was 7-of-16 for 98 yards.

The Chargers are 0-2 for the first time since 2000, when they lost their first 11 and finished 1-15. Including last year's collapse, the Chargers have lost six straight games and nine of 11.

"I'm embarrassed, because I know that we can do better," coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "We've gotten behind early and we're not good at playing catch-up football."

The Chargers, who came into the season thinking they'd break their seven-year playoff drought, were booed often by the crowd of 65,445. The only worse defeat in a Chargers home opener was 37-0 to Pittsburgh in 1975.

Plummer looked awful early with two straight overthrows, then having his arm hit by defensive end Marcellus Wiley as he released. But a pass interference call on Quentin Jammer got the Broncos to their 47. Portis ran 25 yards to help set up Plummer's 34-yard TD throw to Reuben Droughns.

Portis had a 58-yard run on the next drive, capped by Plummer's 1-yard pass to Sharpe.

Sharpe made a one-handed catch of a 26-yard pass from Beuerlein late in the third quarter and Mike Anderson scored on a 1-yard run for a 31-13 lead.

San Diego's only touchdown was Drew Brees' 23-yard pass to Eric Parker late in the first half.

Denver's Jason Elam had field goals of 31, 45 and 34 yards, and San Diego's Steve Christie made field goals of 19 and 25 yards.

San Diego's David Boston, signed to a $47 million free-agent contract in the offseason, missed the game with a bruised heel.

San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson had 93 yards on 16 carries. Brees was 20-of-41 for 182 yards, with one TD and one interception.


  • Christie has 301 field goals, the 14th player to reach 300.
  • Chargers WR Reche Caldwell dislocated his left wrist and will have surgery Monday. He's expected to miss eight weeks. Chargers TE Stephen Alexander (groin) LB Donnie Edwards (groin), DE Wiley (hamstring), DT Dequincy Scott (ankle) and G Kelvin Garmon (elbow) were hurt.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2003, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
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Jake Plummer separates his shoulder diving for a first down, but throws three TD passes before leaving.
Jake Plummer separates his shoulder diving for a first down, but throws three TD passes before leaving.(AP)


Related Video

Scoring Summary
TDReuben Droughns, 12 Yd pass from Jake Plummer (Jason Elam kick is good), 12:18. Drive: 7 plays, 69 yards in 2:42.
FGSteve Christie 19 Yd, 6:21. Drive: 9 plays, 58 yards in 5:57.
TDShannon Sharpe, 1 Yd pass from Jake Plummer (Jason Elam kick is good), 1:36. Drive: 7 plays, 88 yards in 4:45.
TDCooper Carlisle, 6 Yd pass from Jake Plummer (Jason Elam kick is good), 6:58. Drive: 10 plays, 54 yards in 6:01.
TDEric Parker, 23 Yd pass from Drew Brees (Steve Christie kick is good), 1:05. Drive: 12 plays, 80 yards in 5:53.
FGJason Elam 30 Yd, 0:05. Drive: 8 plays, 56 yards in 1:00.
FGSteve Christie 25 Yd, 9:31. Drive: 11 plays, 67 yards in 5:29.
TDMike Anderson, 1 Yd run (Jason Elam kick is good), 4:48. Drive: 7 plays, 51 yards in 4:43.
FGJason Elam 45 Yd, 1:05. Drive: 6 plays, 18 yards in 2:16.
FGJason Elam 34 Yd, 14:21. Drive: 4 plays, 8 yards in 1:26.
S. Beuerlein7/169800
J. Plummer9/139430
C. Portis12129058
M. Anderson1665120
J. Plummer1202
S. Beuerlein3103
C. Cole1000
R. Smith571019
S. Sharpe447126
A. Lelie245025
R. Droughns112112
M. Anderson2604
C. Carlisle1616
E. McCaffrey1505
San Diego
D. Brees20/4118211
L. Tomlinson1693023
T. Dwight228020
E. Parker559123
J. Chatman338023
L. Tomlinson527011
J. Peelle326017
T. Dwight219010
L. Neal213010
Complete Player Stats