RB thinks downfield tosses are key

Updated: October 31, 2003, 5:13 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

DENVER -- Their top two quarterbacks are out injured and the Broncos' offense has stagnated, but tailback Clinton Portis thinks he knows what ails the suddenly futile Denver attack -- the lack of a downfield passing game.

"We've got to get the ball to those guys downfield," Portis told the Denver Post on Thursday in advance of Monday night's game against the New England Patriots. "As the running game gets going, that's what will open things up downfield.

"Everything goes together. We've got to get the running game established to where we can throw the deep ball. If we want to take the short underneath routes, we need the receivers to get the ball downfield. Right now we don't have any of that going. We've really been some trash on offense, and everybody is accountable for that."

Denver failed to score a touchdown under the helm of Danny Kanell in Baltimore on Sunday and now faces a Patriots' defense that has allowed just one touchdown in its last three outings.

Already trailing the Kansas City Chiefs by three games in the AFC West, Denver may soon be resigned to battling for one of the AFC's two wild card playoff spots. Beating 6-2 New England could be crucial to the Broncos' playoff chances.

"This is a critical game," Portis told the paper. "We need to come out and make a statement Monday night and get things going back positive to go into the bye so that we don't lose three games in a row. So we go into the bye with a fresh mind, clear your mind, enjoy yourself and come back ready to play football. I think Monday night will be a good start to that."