Broncos 20

(1-0, 1-0 away)

Texans 14

(0-1, 0-1 home)

8:00 PM ET, August 13, 2005


1 2 3 4 T
DEN 0 10 0 1020
HOU 7 0 0 714

Denver 20, Houston 14

HOUSTON (AP) -- Jake Plummer accomplished his goal to get an early touchdown for the Denver Broncos, then turned the game over to the guys hoping to be his understudy.

Bradlee Van Pelt and Matt Mauck both made their case.

Todd Devoe broke free with a short pass from Mauck, then scampered 92 yards late in the fourth quarter to provide the winning margin in the Broncos' 20-14 preseason victory over the Houston Texans on Saturday night.

Devoe, who spent his rookie year last season on the Baltimore practice squad, broke a tackle inside his own 20, then raced down the sideline for the touchdown with 4:18 to go in the game.

The late score came after Van Pelt, who played more than half the game, improved his chances to become Plummer's chief relief by leading the Broncos to a pair of field goals by Jason Elam.

"It felt good to get out there but I wanted to play better," Van Pelt said. "I wanted to get some touchdowns and hit some more passes. I felt I played below what I was capable of."

Denver coach Mike Shanahan gave Van Pelt a positive review.

"This was his first game and you could see his athletic ability," Shanahan said. "I'm proud of the way we came back and had a big-time drive against an excellent defense."

Van Pelt, who was 10-for-17 for 107 yards, spent all of last season on the practice squad and hadn't appeared in a game since last preseason. He took over early in the second quarter for Plummer, who played three series and tossed a 3-yard TD pass to tight end Stephen Alexander that tied the game at 7.

"We wanted to score on the very first drive to get the guys off the field," Plummer said. "We got a touchdown in the red zone, and that's what we needed.

"I feel real relaxed out there. There were a couple of situations where they just had the perfect defense for what we had called, and that's going to happen sometimes."

The Broncos, who retooled their defensive line by dipping into the free-agent market in the offseason, got a lift early when the Texans failed to score after a first-and-goal the 1.

Four straight running plays by Domanick Davis went nowhere, even with 328-pound defensive end Robaire Smith making his debut as a blocking back in the short-yardage situation.

It was the lone series for starting quarterback David Carr, who threw just two passes, completing one for 15 yards, and ran for another 11 yards.

He was not sacked in his brief appearance, however, a priority this year for the Texans, who allowed a league-worst 49 sacks last season.

"We executed pretty much flawlessly, except when we got down obviously inside the 1-yard-line we'd like to get that in," Carr said. "There's no doubt they're going to be able to 9 million more times after this. That was just a great job by their defense."

Davis said, "The guys just pinched down and brought the outside guys and kind of just cramped down on me at the line. I didn't put it in, but before that I think we did pretty good moving the ball."

Taking over for Carr, Tony Banks moved the Texans 44 yards in six plays, connecting with backup tight end Matt Murphy down the middle for a 31-yard touchdown that gave Houston a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

Plummer didn't start clicking until the Broncos' third possession, when he took them 76 yards in 10 plays, finishing with the scoring pass to Alexander.

That was it for Plummer, who last year tied a Denver record with 27 TD passes but also led the league with 20 interceptions. He was 6-for-10 for 60 yards, and no interceptions, giving way to Van Pelt.

"This is the is the first time he's been out there without coaches standing around there yelling at him," Plummer said of Van Pelt. "He's an outstanding athlete and I thought he played well after missing all this time."

On his first series, Van Pelt, a seventh-round pick in 2004, completed just two of five passes but put the Broncos into scoring position at the Texans 26 with a 40-yard run on a third-and-4.

"It was a quarterback draw and a crease opened up and I decided to run," Van Pelt said. "That helped my confidence a lot. But I made a lot of mistakes that will drive me nuts tonight. They will show up later on the film."

Van Pelt tried to connect with Jerry Rice in the end zone, but missed the NFL's career leader in receptions. Rice is hoping to land a spot with Denver and a 21st year in the league.

He finished with one catch for six yards.

The Texans made it close when third-stringer Dave Ragone threw a 10-yard TD pass to LaTerance Dunbar with 1:52 to go in the game.

The Broncos, trying to sort out running backs, started Mike Anderson, a former offensive Rookie of the Year coming back after a groin injury sidelined him all of last season. Anderson finished with 12 yards on six carries.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


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