Ted Sundquist is promoted to general manager after six years as director of college scouting
Kicked out of the playoffs
In the end, the Broncos were three long field goals away from the playoffs.
Three blasts from beyond 50 yards robbed the Broncos of two home wins. The first, a 53-yard field goal from Miami’s Olindo Mare with six seconds left in Week 6, canceled out a 55-yard field goal from Jason Elam just 39 seconds earlier and allowed Miami to escape with a 24-22 win.
Six weeks later, Indianapolis’ Mike Vanderjagt snatched away a potential home win on a snowy night with a game-tying 54-yard field goal at the end of regulation and a 51-yard game-winner in the subsequent overtime.
Those defeats, along with a sweep at the hands of the Oakland Raiders, left the Broncos with a 9-7 record.
That game was started by Steve Beuerlein, which in itself was noteworthy. Four days earlier, on Christmas morning, head coach Mike Shanahan informed Brian Griese that he was being relieved of his starting duties after throwing two interceptions in the previous weekend’s loss at Oakland.
The Broncos had gone into that game knowing that two wins in their final two games would give them the AFC West crown. Griese knew the significance of the game; After an inconsistent season, it was his chance to establish himself as the long-term, title-contending quarterback. He called the game the biggest of his career.
And in that game, he didn’t even make it out of the second quarter. He re-injured his knee after throwing two interceptions as the Broncos fell behind 21-0. Beuerlein entered and rallied the Broncos back within 21-16, but a Zack Crockett touchdown run on the following series finished off the Broncos.
It was a year of individual achievement. Rookie running back Clinton Portis replaced the retired Terrell Davis and ran for 1,508 yards and 15 touchdowns. Future Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe returned after two years with the Ravens and racked up 61 receptions despite missing three games to injury.
But for the second consecutive season, the team fell short of the playoffs and ended the year looking for a new long-term quarterback.