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Broncos 27, Raiders 24

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DENVER (AP) — They might question his arm, but no one is questioning Brian Griese's heart.

Playing with a separated throwing shoulder, Griese led the Denver Broncos to a 27-24 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Monday night.

It was the third game-winning drive of Griese's brief two-year career. Although that total leaves him well behind the 47 comeback drives of his predecessor, John Elway, Griese is putting up statistics that rival Elway's.

Now the Broncos, who thrust themselves back into the playoff picture with the win, must wait to see how long Griese is sidelined, if at all.

``We won't know for a couple of days the exact extent of the injury,'' coach Mike Shanahan said. ``We'll see how sore he is the next few days.''

It was the second loss this season for the Raiders (8-2), both to the Broncos, and it ended their six-game winning streak. Denver (6-4) has beaten the Raiders 11 out of 12 meetings under Shanahan.

``It was like a playoff game,'' Denver kicker Jason Elam said. ``We needed it to stay in the hunt.''

``Denver made some timely plays,'' Oakland coach Jon Gruden said. ``They showed a lot of resiliency. The blocked punt was a big play. The turnover ratio tonight clearly was another key indicator in the scoreboard.''

After the Raiders rallied from a 24-10 deficit with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns — the last coming with 1:06 left — Griese drove the Broncos 44 yards for Elam's 41-yard field goal on the game's final play.

``I didn't hit it good,'' Elam said. ``I caught a lot of grass when I hit it, but it was straight. I knew from 41 it was going to have the distance, so I just wanted to get it going straight.

``The balls were like ice. I'm glad they got me as close as they did.''

At kickoff, the temperature was 20 degrees, and it dropped to 13 in the second half.

It may have been Broncos weather, but the Raiders dominated early.

After Terrell Davis scored on a 5-yard run less than four minutes in, the Raiders took control on both sides of the ball.

They slammed Griese to the ground on a scramble, injuring his shoulder. Griese already has torn cartilage in the shoulder, but the injuries are apparently unrelated.

Brett Conway, subbing for the injured Sebastian Janikowski, kicked a 19-yard field goal late in the first quarter, and the Raiders went up 10-7 at halftime after fullback Zack Crockett's 1-yard scoring run, which capped a 75-yard drive.

Elam's 23-yarder tied it midway through the third period, and Denver went ahead when rookie Ian Gold blocked a punt and returned it 12 yards for a touchdown. Griese threw an 11-yard TD pass to tight end Byron Chamberlain early in the fourth quarter for a 24-10 lead.

But the Raiders didn't quit. After one drive fizzled at the Denver 11, Crockett scored again on a 1-yard run, and Rich Gannon hit Tim Brown on a 22-yard scoring pass to tie it.

Griese's 22-yard pass to Rod Smith ignited the Broncos' final drive.

``This was not a game I wanted to miss,'' said Griese, who received an injection to ease the pain. ``If there was anything at all possible I could do, I wanted to play. It was popping in and out. It was not a good feeling, but it was not something that was overly painful after I got the shot.''

Still, Griese, who came into the game as the AFC's leading passer, was 25-of-37 for 262 yards.

``He was in pain, but he wanted to play,'' Shanahan said. ``That's the way he always is. He wants to play. He's a warrior.''

Gannon, who completed 30 of 53 passes for 382 yards, said ``it really hurts to lose to these guys twice in a season. For whatever reason, we hurt ourselves when we play these guys.''

Seven of Oakland's 12 turnovers this season are against Denver.

Notes: Smith went over 1,000 yards receiving for the fourth straight season, tying a team record. ... Andre Rison of the Raiders went over 10,000 career yards receiving. ... The last time the Broncos blocked a punt for a touchdown was in 1979. ... Oakland defensive end Tony Bryant injured a bone in the throat area. ... Broncos guard Mark Schlereth injured his left knee, on which he has had surgery 14 times in his career. ... Denver defensive back Darryl Pounds dislocated his right elbow.



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