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Broncos outlast Raiders

The Associated Press

DENVER – His predecessor, John Elway, authored 47 game-saving drives.

Tuesday, November 23, 1999

DENVER – His predecessor, John Elway, authored 47 game-saving drives. Brian Griese has two, both against the same opponent.

Replacing a dazed Chris Miller midway through the fourth quarter, Griese guided Denver to a pair of late field goals, then was at the helm when Olandis Gary bolted 24 yards for the winning touchdown 2:40 into overtime, lifting the Broncos to a 27-21 victory over Oakland on Monday night.

Defensive tackle Trevor Pryce made it possible by sacking Rich Gannon, forcing a fumble and recovering it at the Oakland 24. Gary sprinted through a huge hole off the left side on the next play.

”It was unbelievable because it was hard getting yards all day,” Gary said.

Pryce said he and defensive end Neil Smith ”chased (Gannon) a lot” all night, without much success.

Jason Elam kicked two fourth-quarter field goals, including a 53-yarder with seven seconds left in regulation, to tie it at 21.

Darrien Gordon’s 25-yard punt return had set up Michael Husted’s 44-yard field goal with 1:17 left, giving the Raiders a 21-18 lead.

But the Broncos (4-7) went 36 yards in nine plays, including Griese’s 3-yard pass to Rod Smith on fourth-and-1, allowing Elam to force overtime.

On Griese’s first series, the Broncos went 42 yards for Elam’s 38-yard field goal with 4:04 left, tying it at 18. A questionable pass-interference penalty against Oakland’s Charles Woodson covering 31 yards was the key play on the drive.

Gordon’s return appeared to clinch it for the Raiders (5-5), but the Broncos answered.

Denver won the coin toss in overtime and elected to receive, but went three-and-out. Tom Rouen’s 46-yard punt was downed at the Raiders 19, and three plays later Pryce forced the critical turnover, damaging the Raiders’ playoff hopes.

”Rich was looking for an alternate receiver and they made a heck of a play,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. ”They got around the horn and knocked the ball out of his arm. That was the devastating play in the ballgame.”

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said Miller appeared to have sustained a mild concussion, the same malady that caused him to retire after the 1995 season before being medical clearance to play again this year.

”(Offensive coordinator) Gary (Kubiak) was talking to Chris on the headset and felt something was wrong with him,” Shanahan said. ”He got hit in the head earlier. We felt something wasn’t right, so we made the change.”

Griese agreed. ”He was getting his plays muddled,” Griese said. ”He wasn’t going through his reads.”

Griese, who led Denver to a 16-13 victory over Oakland on Oct. 10, said, ”We haven’t been able to pull those games out. This team needed to find a way to win in the fourth quarter. My team counts on me in that situation. I went in and made some plays and missed some plays, but in the end we won the game.”

The Raiders overcame a 15-0 second-quarter deficit to take an 18-15 lead, thanks to two touchdown passes from Gannon.

The game was played in 26-degree weather and on a field dusted by light snow before the game, the remnants of a storm that dumped nine inches of snow on the Denver area since Sunday night.

The game ended on an ugly note, when some Broncos fans pelted the Raiders with snowballs. Offensive tackle Lincoln Kennedy, who was hit in the eye, charged into the stands after the perpetrators.

The Broncos led 15-7 at halftime but squandered several scoring chances, failing to capitalize after taking possession on three straight series at the Oakland 40, Denver 48 and Denver 40.

They also managed only a field goal after Dale Carter returned an interception to the 9, and they wasted another opportunity when Gary broke several tackles on a short run but fumbled the ball away at the Raider 5.

It looked as if it would come back to haunt them, as the Raiders scored 18 straight points.

Gannon threw a 20-yard TD pass to fullback Jon Ritchie late in the second quarter, then passed 12 yards to Rickey Dudley for another score and added a 2-point conversion. Michael Husted’s 33-yard field goal late in the third period made it 18-15.

Notes: Under Shanahan, the Broncos are 9-1 against the Raiders and have won the last five meetings. … Denver has won 13 straight games at home against AFC West opponents. … Oakland’s Tim Brown caught a pass in his 102nd consecutive game. … With the kickoff temperature of 26 degrees, it was the coldest game at Mile High Stadium since Dec. 1, 1991, against New England, when it was 23 degrees. … Denver kick returner Chris Watson left the game briefly because of dizziness but returned. … Denver’s victory snapped a string of five straight overtime losses to the Raiders.