- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2001


DENVER (AP) It was a bittersweet celebration for the Denver Broncos. Playing their first game in a new stadium, the Broncos welcomed back former MVP Terrell Davis and showed why they are considered Super Bowl contenders with a 31-20 victory over the New York Giants last night.

While Davis proved healthy with 101 yards on 21 carries, Denver lost starting wide receiver Ed McCaffrey to a broken leg. McCaffrey, who caught a team-record 101 passes last year, could miss the rest of the season.

The devastating injury to McCaffrey seemed to inspire the Broncos, particularly Rod Smith, who caught a 25-yard touchdown pass that gave Denver a 21-14 lead three plays after McCaffrey was injured midway through the third quarter.

The Broncos also scored on their first two possessions of the fourth quarter, ensuring they would open $400 million Invesco Field at Mile High on a winning note.

Smith, one of McCaffrey's best friends, finished with nine catches for 115 yards, and Brian Griese, eight months removed from reconstructive shoulder surgery, was 21-for-29 for 330 yards and three touchdowns.

The Giants, still seeking respect after winning the NFC title last year, had trouble running the ball and were hampered by the absences of starting cornerback Jason Sehorn (sore knee) and starting receiver Ike Hilliard (sore foot).

New York finished with 308 yards total offense 90 coming in the final five minutes and Sehorn's replacement, rookie Will Peterson, repeatedly was beaten by Smith and McCaffrey. Dave Thomas also struggled to contain Denver's receivers even after McCaffrey left the game.

One of New York's best players was first-year punter Rodney Williams, who set a team record with a 90-yard punt in the third quarter and two more kicks over 60 yards.

Amani Toomer also had a big night with two touchdown catches for the Giants, who lost their season-opener for the first time in five years under coach Jim Fassel.

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