Inconsistency in the Broncos’ new home

With a gleaming new stadium opening, Brian Griese fully healed from a shoulder injury and Terrell Davis another year removed from tearing two ligaments in his knee, big things were expected from the Broncos in 2001.

But what followed was a season in which the Broncos never found consistent form.

Griese was healthier in 2001, but the Broncos were not. In the regular-season opener — which was also the first game at Invesco Field at Mile High — Ed McCaffrey fractured his leg and was lost for the season.

His injury was quickly forgotten by most who attended that game; about eight and a half hours after the Broncos wrapped up the 31-20 win over the New York Giants, the first of two jets hit the World Trade Center in New York City. The NFL postponed all Week 2 games, moving them to January.

After the one-week pause to mourn following the 9/11 attacks, the Broncos resumed without McCaffrey, and endured one of their more inconsistent seasons to date.

After a 2-0 start, the Broncos would not win consecutive games until the next season. The final 10 games were a perfect exchange of win, loss, win, loss, and despite a career season from wide receiver Rod Smith — 113 catches, 1,343 yards and 11 touchdowns — the Broncos finished 8-8.

Griese’s interception ratio spiked from one every 84 attempts in 2000 to one every 23.7 attempts in 2001. Davis could not find his old form and would announce his retirement the following year, his career cut short after just seven seasons. And at the end of the season, head coach Mike Shanahan considered taking the vacant position at the University of Florida, where he worked before coming to Denver in 1984, before deciding to return for the 2002 season.

Talent still abounded on the Broncos’ roster, but questions outnumbered answers at the end of one of the Broncos’ most frustrating seasons.

The Broncos are represented at the annual AFC-NFC Pro Bowl by Brian Griese, Tom Nalen, Trevor Pryce and Rod Smith.

2001 Schedule

Date Opponent Score
9/10 New York Giants 31-20
9/23 at Arizona Cardinals 38-17
9/30 Baltimore Ravens 13-20
10/7 Kansas City Chiefs 20-6
10/14 at Seattle Seahawks 21-34
10/21 at San Diego Chargers 10-27
10/28 New England Patriots 31-20
11/5 at Oakland Raiders 28-38
11/11 San Diego Chargers 26-16
11/18 Washington Redskins 10-17
11/22 at Dallas Cowboys 26-24
12/2 at Miami Dolphins 10-21
12/9 Seattle Seahawks 20-7
12/16 at Kansas City Chiefs 23-26
12/30 Oakland Raiders 23-17
1/6 at Indianapolis Colts 10-29

2001 offense

Pos Player Starts
qb gus frerotte 1
qb brian griese 15
rb mike anderson 7
rb terrell davis 8
rb olandis gary 1
fb tony carter 6
fb patrick hape 8
wr chris cole 1
wr kevin kasper 5
wr ed mccaffrey 1
wr rod smith 14
te dwayne carswell 16
te desmond clark 4
c tom nalen 16
t matt lepsis 16
t trey teague 16
g lennie friedman 14
g steve herndon 3
g dan neil 15

The Broncos officially christen INVESCO Field at Mile High with a season-opening 31-20 win over the New York Giants on Monday Night Football

Wide receiver Rod Smith sets a team record with 14 receptions in a 38-17 win at Arizona

The Broncos defeat the Dallas Cowboys 26-24 at Texas Stadium on Thanksgiving Day, marking the club’s first Thanksgiving Day appearance since 1990

2001 defense

Pos Player Starts
de reggie hayward 2
de kavika pittman 14
de keith washington 16
dt chester mcglockton 16
dt trevor pryce 16
lb john mobley 16
lb bill romanowski 16
lb al wilson 16
cb deltha o'neal 16
cb jimmy spencer 1
cb denard walker 15
s eric brown 16
s kenoy kennedy 16

Record: 8-8
Third place AFC West