DENVER (AP) -- His last start was dreadful, a 21-3 loss to
Baltimore in the AFC wild-card playoff game last Dec. 31. His most
significant action since then began the same way.
Gus Frerotte, replacing injured starter Brian Griese early in
the second half, fumbled the ball away on his third play but
overcame the shaky beginning to keep the Denver Broncos in the
Frerotte drove the Broncos to two third-quarter scores in a 20-7
win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night.
"I was a little rusty at first," Frerotte admitted. "I was
trying to not make bad plays. I really just wanted to be smart. It
felt good to be back out there, to actually play when your team
needed it. This game was huge for us."
Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said his team approached the game
"like it was a playoff game. During the week, we said, `If we
lose, we go home."'
Denver (7-6) sacked Matt Hasselbeck five times and held the
Seahawks' running game in check, even with the return of Ricky
Watters, who missed eight games with a shoulder injury.
Frerotte completed 10 of 20 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown.
Hasselbeck was 17-for-37 for 243 yards with one TD and two
Things started ominously for Frerotte.
Griese took a blow to the head on the first play in the second
half when linebacker Levon Kirkland landed on him at the end of a
"He has a concussion," Shanahan said. "It was bad enough that
(trainer) Steve Antonopulos wasn't going to let him go back in.
Just talking to him in the locker room, he still seemed a little
Three plays later, Frerotte fumbled the ball away on a sack at
the Denver 24. The Seahawks (6-6) couldn't capitalize, however, as
Rian Lindell missed a 41-yard field goal.
Later in the quarter, Jimmy Spencer intercepted Hasselbeck's
overthrown pass at the Denver 45, and the Broncos scored five plays
later. Wide receiver Kevin Kasper ran 27 yards on a reverse and,
after a pass-interference penalty on Seattle's Ken Lucas, Frerotte
hit a wide-open Patrick Hape on a 1-yard scoring pass.
After rookie Reggie Hayward and Trevor Pryce had back-to-back
sacks and the Seahawks punted, Denver went 87 yards for a field
goal and a 20-7 lead late in the period. Davis broke off a 57-yard
run to set up Jason Elam's 20-yard field goal.
Seattle drove from its 6 to the Denver 15 in the fourth quarter,
but Hasselbeck, under pressure, threw incomplete on fourth down
with 1:52 left.
"We had our chances, we didn't convert," Seattle coach Mike
Holmgren said. "At 6-6, we have to win out to get into the
Denver jumped to an early 10-0 lead before Seattle fashioned a
long scoring drive to make it 10-7 at halftime.
After Seattle's Shaun Alexander was stopped for no gain on
fourth down at the Denver 34, the Broncos went 66 yards for a
A personal foul on defensive tackle Chad Eaton helped move
Denver inside the Seattle 20, and Griese passed 11 yards to Desmond
Clark for the score.
A minute later, Denver's Deltha O'Neal returned a punt 41 yards
to the Seattle 40, and Elam kicked a 42-yard field goal.
Seattle threatened on all three of its possessions in the second
period. Hasselbeck completed a 19-yard pass to rookie Koren
Robinson on third-and-16, and the Seahawks benefitted from a
15-yard face-mask penalty on Bill Romanowski. Seattle reached the
Denver 22, but Hasselbeck's errant screen pass was intercepted by
Hasselbeck converted two third-and-long situations on the
Seahawks' next possession, including a 32-yard pass to Darrell
Jackson on third-and-12. Jackson then beat Spencer in the corner of
the end zone for a 24-yard score.
Safety Marcus Robertson's interception gave Seattle a final
first-half opportunity, but Hasselbeck's long pass to Jackson was
knocked away in the end zone by O'Neal.
It was Davis' seventh straight 100-yard rushing game
against Seattle. ... Seattle, which finished with just 70 yards
rushing, beat the Broncos 34-21 on Oct. 14 as Alexander ran for 142
yards and two TDs. ... Alexander had only 28 yards on 12 carries
but raised his season total to 1,009, becoming the fourth Seattle
back to top 1,000 yards. ... Hasselbeck's string of pass attempts
without an interception ended at 128. ... Hayward, playing in just
his third NFL game, had 2½ sacks.