Broncos fix leak, pour it on

Associated Press
Published October 31, 2005

DENVER - From blowout to embarrassment to blowout again, the Broncos put a unique twist on the art of the four-touchdown victory.

Little-known receiver Todd Devoe caught a 43-yard touchdown and Tatum Bell ran for 67- and 6-yard touchdowns in the fourth quarter to help the Broncos hold off, then run away from the Eagles.

The Broncos came one point and 3 yards short of setting franchise records for offense. But the gaudy stats (564 yards, 28 first downs) and final margin don't begin to tell how scary this one got for a while.

"An old-fashioned butt-whupping," Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said. "What can you say? When you dig a hole too deep, you think you can come back, but then they came right back and made some more big plays."

Jake Plummer, who had a season-high 309 yards passing and - for the sixth straight game - had no interceptions, threw three of his four touchdowns over the first 23 minutes.

But the Broncos allowed Philadelphia within seven points and 24 yards of the tying score early in the fourth.

Donovan McNabb had running back Lamar Gordon open on third and 5 from the Denver 24, but went to the end zone instead and was picked off by rookie Domonique Foxworth, who was covering Reggie Brown. When asked about the play, McNabb didn't mention Gordon.

"I thought I could get it in to Reggie, but the corner undercut and got there," McNabb said.

Five plays later, Devoe caught a pass, spun outside and had free sailing after cornerback Roderick Hood fell on the rain-soaked turf.

"The feeling was not the best," Devoe said of the mood on the sideline with the lead slipping away. "We knew we had to do something to slow their momentum down."

Devoe's touchdown did it, then a few minutes later, Bell got loose on the sideline for his 67-yard run.

Bell, who added his second touchdown in the last minute, finished with 107 yards and Mike Anderson had 126, keeping them on pace to become only the fourth pair of running backs in league history to reach 1,000 yards each in the same season.

Before Devoe's big catch, it looked like McNabb and Terrell Owens might help the Eagles match the league's biggest regular-season comeback.

With Philadelphia trailing 28-7, McNabb opened the third quarter by hitting Owens on a short pass on the sideline. Owens juked Champ Bailey, then ran free for a 91-yard score - the longest of either player's career.

Owens beat Bailey again for a 43-yard gain to set up a 14-yard touchdown to Brian Westbrook to pull the Eagles within 28-21 late in the third.

It gave the Broncos that familiar, sinking feeling.

The past three weeks, they led big against the Redskins, Patriots and Giants, only to let them all back into game. Last week, it bit them in a 24-23 loss at New York after they led by 13 in the fourth.

The Eagles, meanwhile, can be proud of their comeback, but have to look at their slow starts. They've been outscored 62-14 in the first quarter this season.

NOTABLE: Eagles defensive end Jevon Kearse (right shoulder) left in the first quarter and did not return.