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Griffin gains 156 yards, scores three times in Denver's win

DENVER (AP) -- A little "Q" might be all the Denver Broncos
need to replace Clinton Portis.

Darting and dashing his way through Kansas City's defense,
Quentin Griffin ran for 156 yards and scored three touchdowns in
his first game as Portis' replacement, lifting the Broncos to a
34-24 victory over the Chiefs on Sunday night.

"He really stepped up," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.
"It's nice to see Quentin come in and play at that level. It
really didn't surprise me."

Denver traded Portis to Washington to get cornerback Champ
Bailey, a potentially risky move because Portis rushed for over
1,500 yards in each of his first two seasons.

Portis was superb in his debut with the Redskins, rushing for
148 yards and touchdown in a 16-10 victory over Tampa Bay. Griffin
was just as good.

The 5-foot-8 scatback juked his way to touchdown runs of 25 and
47 yards and caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Jake Plummer in
the first quarter. Griffin even did Portis one better, breaking his
team record for most yards on opening day. Portis had 120 last
year, though Griffin isn't ready to take over Portis'
self-proclaimed title of "world's greatest running back."

"I don't think I'm ready for that," Griffin said. "Clinton is
a very good running back. I don't think I'm the one to compare
myself to him."

Bailey made the trade look even better.

He tipped away a pass to Tony Gonzalez in the second quarter on
the first ball thrown his direction, and intercepted another just
before halftime when Trent Green scrambled and tried throw over his
head. Bailey even got involved in the offense, lining up for a
handful of plays and catching an 11-yard pass in the first half.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play with a guy like
that," Plummer said. "He's one of the great players to play in
this league."

The game was supposed to be more of a defensive matchup than in
years past after both teams made changes.

It didn't work out that way.

Kansas City's defense ranked 29th in the league last season,
costing defensive coordinator Greg Robinson his job. The Chiefs
didn't look any different under Gunther Cunningham.

Denver scored on its first three possessions, Plummer threw for
230 yards and two touchdowns and the Chiefs couldn't keep up with
Griffin's jitterbug moves. Denver finished with 413 yards.

"They screwed us up with a lot of the different things they
did," Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said. "A little different than
what they've ever done and it screwed us up."

The Broncos added Pro Bowlers Bailey and John Lynch in an
attempt to get better on defense. They were better than the Chiefs,
but still gave up 151 yards and three touchdowns to Priest Holmes.

Denver also gave up a 17-7 halftime lead 3 minutes into the
third quarter, but that had more to do with Plummer than anything
the defense did.

His first pass of the third quarter was intercepted by Monty
Beisel, leading to Lawrence Tynes' 50-yard field goal. Plummer then
tried to throw left-handed to avoid a safety on the next drive.
That one ended up in the hands of Shawn Barber and Holmes scored
two plays later on a 4-yard run, tying the game at 17 as Plummer
stood on the sideline shaking his head.

"We were fortunate that the game was that close," Vermeil
said. "If it hadn't been for taking the ball away it wouldn't have
been that close because we were not doing anything offensively."

The Broncos needed just 89 seconds to answer, with Griffin
taking off through a big hole and shaking Greg Wesley near the 20
for a 47-yard touchdown run.

Kansas City came right back, blowing the Broncos off the line
for 77 yards on seven straight runs. Holmes finished it off,
bouncing off Lynch, planting his hand for balance and breaking two
more tackles for a 33-yard touchdown run.

Denver took the lead back on Elam's 45-yard field goal, then
sealed it on Plummer's 2-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Hape.
Griffin had a hand in that one, too, juking his way to a 19-yard
run.

"On that last drive, he made some people look foolish out there
and helped us get that last touchdown," Plummer said of Griffin.

Chiefs cornerback William Bartee was carted off the field with a
sprained neck. Bartee was injured late in the first quarter when
the side of his head hit Denver's Rod Smith on the hip during a
punt.
^Notes:@ Denver was hit with a group demonstration penalty after
Bailey's interception in the second quarter. ... Denver's Micah
Knorr hit a 66-yard punt into a strong wind in the second quarter.
... After Tynes missed a 63-yard field goal at the end of the half,
the officials called both teams out of the locker room after
realizing the ball hadn't been spotted correctly. Tynes missed
again, this time from 58 yards, after both teams returned and two
stages for the halftime show were taken off the field.

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