Broncos reeling headed into bye week

Updated: November 4, 2003, 7:08 PM ET
ESPN

DENVER -- With a three-game losing streak and an injury list that includes nearly half the roster, the Denver Broncos need a break. It comes this week, but it might be too late to save the season.

"I'm not giving up," Broncos cornerback Lenny Walls said. "We may be 5-4, but that doesn't mean we can't make the playoffs. There is a lot of football left, but we also have a lot to do to get back to the position we need to be in."

That's for sure.

Denver opened the season 4-0, but injuries and inconsistency have led to four losses in five games. The offense that scored 30 points in each of the first three games has mostly sputtered and the defense is starting to show cracks after playing so well early.

The Broncos appeared to be on their way out of the rut Monday night against New England, but a deliberate safety and a touchdown pass from Tom Brady to David Givens with 30 seconds left led to a 30-26 loss.

The Broncos are 3{ games behind Kansas City in the AFC West and not much closer to being a playoff contender.

"Right now we're under the knife and we just need to get up from under it," Broncos defensive end Trevor Pryce said.

Injuries certainly haven't helped.

Denver entered Monday's game without its top two quarterbacks, two of its three starting linebackers, its left tackle and its third receiver. It only got worse once the game started.

The Broncos had one backup linebacker left after Donnie Spragan sprained his foot in the third quarter. Receiver Rod Smith didn't return after taking a hard shot in the fourth quarter. And Denver was forced to punt twice in New England's end of the field after kicker Jason Elam strained a groin muscle while practicing on the sideline.

"It is always a part of the National Football League, especially during midseason," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "If you're lucky, you stay healthy. If you are a little bit unlucky, you get some guys banged up. Hopefully, after the bye week we we'll get a lot of our guys back."

Quarterback Jake Plummer said his broken foot is healing as expected and he plans to return Nov. 16 against San Diego. Left tackle Ephraim Salaam is expected back for that game after missing two weeks with knee surgery, and receiver Ed McCaffrey should be healthy after missing three games with a quadriceps injury.

The Broncos also are hoping linebacker John Mobley can play against the Chargers after bruising his spinal cord against Baltimore last week.

An extra week will give everyone a chance to heal, but perhaps more importantly, it will give the Broncos time to think about where things went wrong.

"The bye week couldn't have come at a better time," Broncos fullback Mike Anderson said. "We really need to take some time off and get away from everything. Every now and then, everybody needs a little break. Sometimes you need time to regroup and rethink things."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index