BUCCANEERS 13 -- John Lynch will remember it as the touchdown-saving hit he was too much of a gentleman to make. Fortunately for Denver, the mistake didn't ruin the safety's emotional return to Tampa Bay Sunday.
Jake Plummer threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Hape and Jason Elam kicked three field goals to give the Broncos a 16-13 victory over the winless Buccaneers, whose only touchdown came on a play in which Lynch failed to knock down a receiver who was getting up off the ground.
Instead, Lynch merely touched Michael Clayton on the back, thinking the rookie was down. Clayton, whose helmet was knocked off when his head was brushed by Lynch's knee, stood and took off for the end zone to complete a 51-yard pass play.
Plummer completed 13 of 31 passes for 138 yards for Denver (3-1), saving his best for the fourth quarter when he took advantage of a 37-yard pass interference penalty to set up Elam's 24-yard field goal that snapped a 13-13 tie with 9 minutes 3 seconds to go.
The Denver quarterback also put together a long drive that burned all but three seconds of the final 7:26 off the clock. Tampa Bay inserted Chris Simms, the inactive third quarterback, for the last play, and Lynch nearly intercepted his desperation pass near midfield.
The loss was the sixth straight over two seasons for the Bucs (0-4), who have dropped 10 of their past 13 games.