Not pretty, but Broncos take it

Points and rushing yards are few, but Denver embraces 10th win


Denver -- Mike Shanahan's post-game news conference was a suitable reminder of how his team played yesterday against the Ravens.

Shanahan walked past the podium and joined the crowd huddled around a television watching the Kansas City Chiefs blow a late lead to the Dallas Cowboys.

Distracted? Looking ahead to Saturday's tough match in Buffalo? Perhaps, although don't expect any of the Denver Broncos to admit it.

"If you win, which we did today, although it wasn't pretty, you still have to count it and credit it as a `W' in December in the NFL," said fullback Kyle Johnson, who scored Denver's only touchdown on a 7-yard pass from Jake Plummer. "That's always something you can appreciate."

True, but Denver's 12-10 victory had the same flavor as cardboard. The usually vibrant crowd of 75,651 at Invesco Field at Mile High slept until the second quarter and had to endure a nervy finish against a Ravens offense that hovered between woeful and inept.

Denver's bread-and-butter rushing game was toast, amassing just 96 yards, with no run going for more than 18 yards. Consequently, the passing game was tight and Plummer's longest completion was for just 24 yards.

But in the end, all the right things were said. Shanahan called it "an old-fashioned dogfight," praising the Ravens' defense and crediting the Broncos' defense for making plays in the red zone when it had to.

The Broncos picked up just their fourth rushing first down of the game in the waning seconds to seal the victory, and losses by the Chiefs and San Diego restored the breathing room that Denver (10-3) had let slip the previous week in Kansas City.

Shanahan got his first win against the Ravens in five tries, although Brian Billick's squad again managed to make things tough.

"It's always like this," Broncos linebacker Al Wilson said of playing the Ravens. "Coming into it, we knew it was going to be that way. They have a tough defense, one of the best defenses in the league. We knew the offense was going to sputter a little bit."

Plummer was good enough to win, completing 19 passes for 236 yards. His defense and the poor play of counterpart Kyle Boller certainly uplifted his stature.

Plummer's best drive came late in the first half against a sagging Ravens defense as the Broncos marched 50 yards on seven plays to set up Jason Elam's 48-yard field goal that would prove vital.

In the end, if Denver fans wanted something attractive, their best bet was watching Desperate Housewives.

"They're not going to all be pretty. From here on out, we don't know what they're going to be, as long as it's a `W,'" Plummer said before looking up at a nearby television. "We could be on the other end like those guys."

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