The Denver Broncos lost another Pro Bowler to injury when tight end Shannon Sharpe fractured his collarbone, yet somehow managed to finally win a game in the post-John Elway era.
Brian Griese, the last-minute replacement for his own replacement, did a pretty decent Elway impersonation as the Broncos blew a 13-point halftime lead before bouncing back for a 16-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders yesterday in Denver.
Griese, benched earlier in the week but forced back into the starting role by Bubby Brister's rib injury, threw for 234 yards and led the Broncos (1-4) on an Elway-like drive at the end of the first half.
Denver held the Raiders (2-3), who entered the weekend with an NFL-best 148 rushing yards per game, to 55 yards. The Broncos also had six sacks.
Jason Elam kicked field goals of 48, 47 and 26 yards for the Broncos, who also got a three-yard scoring pass from Griese to Rod Smith.
Griese, winless as a starter in the first four games of the season, got his job back when Brister--who strained an oblique muscle in his left side during a passing drill Friday--felt pain during warmups yesterday. Griese went 17 of 29 and drove the Broncos 57 yards in 40 seconds late in the first half for their only touchdown.
FALCONS 20, SAINTS 17: Morten Andersen, who had missed four of six field goal attempts going into the game, connected twice in the fourth quarter as the defending NFC champions rallied past host New Orleans for its first victory. Andersen made a 36-yarder to tie the game at 17 early in the final period, then hit a 44-yarder with about six minutes left.
BENGALS 18, BROWNS 17: When Cleveland drafted Tim Couch instead of Akili Smith in April, Smith promised to get even down the line. Yesterday, he kept his word, throwing a two-yard touchdown pass to Carl Pickens with five seconds left in Cleveland.
"It was real personal," said Smith, who completed 25 of 41 for 221 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. "The fans were cheering like it was the Super Bowl, and that's how I took it. This game was very big for me. I wanted to show them they made a mistake."
BILLS 24, STEELERS 21: Doug Flutie threw three touchdown passes and Eric Moulds had six receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown as host Buffalo won its fourth straight after a season-opening loss to Indianapolis. Flutie completed 11 of his first 12 passes and finished 21 for 32 for 261 yards.
BEARS 24, VIKINGS 22: In Minneapolis, resurgent Chicago forced five turnovers and turned three of them into touchdowns to improve to 3-2 under new coach Dick Jauron. Minnesota, which reached the NFC title game last season, fell to 2-3. Randy Moss caught eight passes for 122 yards but was kept out of the end zone for the third time in five weeks.
CHARGERS 20, LIONS 10: Darryll Lewis returned a fumble 42 yards in the fourth quarter and the San Diego defense shut out host Detroit in the second half.