Mon, Dec 27, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Plummer comes alive for Broncos

AP , NASHVILLE, TENNESSEEAP, ORLANDO, FLORIDA

Alvis Whitted of the Raiders celebrates a touchdown during the first half of a game against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri on Saturday.

PHOTO: EPA

Jake Plummer broke out of his slump and kept the Denver Broncos in the playoff race.

Plummer threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns and Reuben Droughns scored three touchdowns as the Broncos beat the Tennessee Titans 37-16 Saturday night to stay in at least a tie for the AFC's final wild-card slot going into the final week of the season.

Denver (9-6) had lost three of its last four games with two of those losses to teams with losing records, including last week's 45-17 rout at Kansas City. Plummer hurt Denver more than he helped with nine interceptions and only two touchdowns in that stretch.

Against a defense missing six starters, Plummer was intercepted once, giving him an NFL-high 20 interceptions this season. But he otherwise was superb, going 21-for-26.

The Broncos gave coach Mike Shanahan his 100th career regular-season victory with the franchise at the expense of his friend, Titans coach Jeff Fisher.

Denver handed the Titans (4-11) their fifth straight loss by shutting down Billy Volek, who was trying to become the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 400 yards in three consecutive games.

Reggie Hayward had three of the Broncos' six sacks, and the defense also forced two turnovers and limited Tennessee to a season-low 153 yards offense.

Chiefs 31, Raiders 30

In Kansas City, Missouri, Lawrence Tynes followed Dante Hall's 49-yard kickoff return with a 38-yard field goal with 22 seconds to go. It was the fourth win in a row for the Chiefs (7-8), whose Super Bowl hopes were dashed by a 1-3 start and a four-game losing streak in November.

Sebastian Janikowski scored the last nine points for Oakland (5-10) on three field goals, including a 46-yarder with 1:03 left that followed a fumble by Chiefs quarterback Trent Green.

But Hall, who already has two touchdowns on kick runbacks this year, got loose on the ensuing kick and was not stopped until Janikowski got him on the Raiders 36.

Tynes, who had missed from 50 yards and had another attempt blocked, had no trouble with his first NFL game-winner even though his holder, punter Nick Murphy, had only been signed at midweek.

Green hit 32 of 45 passes for 358 yards and two touchdowns to tight end Tony Gonzalez, who has 54 career TDs, tied with Wesley Walls for third all-time at tight end.

Louisiana State University coach Nick Saban finally accepted an NFL head coaching job Saturday, prompting a Christmas night celebration at the home of Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga.

"My wife and I high-fived each other," Huizenga said.

The billionaire businessman anxiously watched from Fort Lauderdale as Saban held a televised news conference in Orlando to announce he would accept an offer to coach the Dolphins.

Saban, courted repeatedly by the NFL in recent years, mulled over the offer for three days before disclosing his decision shortly after the Tigers arrived in Orlando for their Jan. 1 bowl game against Iowa.

"It's a tremendous challenge for me," he said, "and a great opportunity for me and my family."

No contract has been signed, but Saban agreed to a five-year deal worth almost US$5 million per year.

He first interviewed for the job last week at his home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana hosting Huizenga and president Eddie Jones for dinner. He met with them again Friday and said he agreed in principle to a deal.

But Huizenga said he was unsure they had an agreement until the news conference.

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