Broncos go on the run to defeat Bears, 13-3

December 19, 1993|By Knight-Ridder News Service

CHICAGO -- It was exactly the kind of game the Chicago Bears wanted yesterday at Soldier Field.

Cold, wet conditions, leading to a game dominated by a turnover-oriented defense and a grind-it-out, ball-control offense.

But it was the Denver Broncos who did the dominating on both sides of the ball, forcing a season-high five turnovers and rushing for 129 yards en route to a 13-3 victory before 53,056 soggy Soldier Field fans.

"We felt like we could play their kind of game," said Broncos coach Wade Phillips, whose team improved to 9-5 and remained in the AFC West title hunt. "We showed we're not just a passing team. This shows we can run the ball, throw the ball -- whatever it takes to win."

Now the Broncos must wait today to see how the rest of the AFC West plays. The division-leading Kansas City Chiefs, who need two more wins to sew up the title, can move a step closer with a victory over San Diego. The Raiders, meanwhile, can move back into a tie with Denver for second place by beating Tampa Bay.

"We really can't worry about anybody else," said Broncos quarterback John Elway, whose 105 yards net passing was a season low. "We just have to take care of our business."

The Broncos took advantage of the first start of the season from Bears backup quarterback P. T. Willis. Denver intercepted three of his passes, batted down five others and sacked him four times. Throw in two fumble recoveries -- one of which led to the only touchdown and another that led to a field goal -- and the Broncos' defense played perhaps its best game of the season.

"We beat them with their approach," Broncos linebacker Karl Mecklenburg said. "Their philosophy is for their defense to come up with more big plays than your defense. That didn't happen today."

Meanwhile, with Elway's passing game virtually grounded by a driving rain that fell for most of the first three quarters, the Broncos showed the Bears what ball control was all about. Denver, which ran 38 times, rushed for more yards (129) than they passed (105) for only the second time this year. Running back Rod Bernstine had his second 100-yard game of the season, carrying 20 times for 103 yards.

After the Bears scored first by converting a fumble on a punt into a field goal, the Broncos turned a Tim Worley fumble into a 29-yard Jason Elam field goal for a 3-3 tie in the second quarter.

Five minutes later, Broncos linebacker Mike Croel sacked Willis, forcing and recovering a fumble on the play. That gave Denver the ball at the Chicago 16, and two plays later, Robert Delpino scored his eighth touchdown for a 10-3 Denver lead.

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