DENVER, JAN. 10 -- Houston made one play worth remembering in its 34-10 loss to the Denver Broncos today, and it might have cost the Oilers a chance at being competitive in this AFC semifinal.

On Houston's second play from scrimmage, operating from inside its 5, Coach Jerry Glanville called for a lateral play. Quarterback Warren Moon was to toss a lateral back to Mike Rozier, who was supposed to take it out of his end zone.

Rozier blew the catch, which is the same thing as fumbling when the ball is thrown laterally. Denver recovered at the 1, and started an avalanche two plays later when Gene Lang scored from the 2.

Glanville later said he didn't think the play was especially risky at the time. "Every time we've run that play, we've caught the ball and made it work," he said. "We did not think we could drive it 90-some yards without making a big play there. If Mike catches the ball, we have a big play. Both tackles and the tight end were out in front of him."

Moon didn't want to take blame for the failure of the play, saying, "The call was made from the sideline. I thought the pass hit him right in the chest. What more can I do. It was a big turning point in the game but it wasn't the type of play we couldn't recover from."

Rozier said he jammed his finger on the play. "I wasn't surprised we called it. We had planned on using it. I didn't look up too early, I just jammed my finger. I looked in front of me and there was a lot of room. It would have worked."

The Broncos said it wouldn't have worked, that they'd seen Houston run it against Pittsburgh and that none of their defensive players was fooled by it.

Denver linebacker Jim Ryan, who called it the key play of the game, added, "We figured they would run it, but I was very surprised to see them run that play in that situation. I think they must have decided before the game they would do that in their very first offensive series no matter what. It was probably a mistake . . ."