By Kathleen Nelson
Monday, Sep. 11 2006

The Denver Broncos had been a stingy bunch. Last season, the team coughed up
just 16 giveaways, least in the league. They were in a generous mood Sunday,
though, when they committed five turnovers in an 18-10 loss to the Rams.

The secret to the Rams' success was no secret, according to the Broncos. They
saw no new scheme hatched by coordinator Jim Haslett and perfected in practices
closed to the media last week.

"They just played good, solid defense," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said,
"everything that Jim's been doing for a number of years and that they did in
preseason, nothing different from what we've seen. They got the job done, and
we didn't."

The Rams wreaked most of their havoc on Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer, who
threw three interceptions, fumbled once and earned a passer rating of 26.3. He
expects fans to grumble louder for rookie QB Jay Cutler, a first-round pick
from Vanderbilt with whom he enjoyed a spirited rivalry in camp.

"Three interceptions: I'm sure they're going to want him to start," Plummer
said. "They don't make the calls. Mike Shanahan does, so I'm going to get back
and work hard and regroup."

Denver could have trailed 24-0 late in the first half, after giving away an
interception and two fumbles. Instead, the Broncos' defense held the Rams to 12
points and gave Denver's alternating backs a chance to shine.

Shanahan used Tatum Bell on the game's opening series, then switched between
him and Mike Bell with each possession. Mike struck first, rushing six times
and catching two passes for 31 yards on the Broncos' first scoring drive,
making the score 12-7 late in the first half. Tatum took over in the third
quarter, rushing for 57 yards and leading the Broncos' drive for a field goal
that cut the Rams' lead to 15-10 early in the fourth. Tatum finished with 103
yards on 15 carries; Mike rushed 10 times for 58 yards.

"I thought that went fairly well," Shanahan said. "I felt very good about going
against that type of defense and gaining some tough yardage."

Shanahan and the Broncos agreed that despite a successful ground game, Denver's
saving grace was the defense, which prevented the Rams from scoring a touchdown
on five chances inside the 20. The defense, though, took little solace from the

"Everyone's saying we played good, keeping ourselves in the game," safety John
Lynch said. "But that's not our standard. We play to do what they did to our
offense today. So, we've got to get better, too."