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The Denver Broncos, who lead the AFC West with a 3-1 record at the quarter point of the season, host Tampa Bay (3-1) on Sunday in the Buccaneers' first visit to Denver in 12 years. Kickoff at INVESCO Field at Mile High is set for 2:05 p.m. MDT, and the game will be broadcast on FOX (KDVR-TV 13).
Denver, which started the season 3-0 for the first time in five years, suffered a 33-19 loss at Kansas City last week. Despite four giveaways and only scoring one touchdown in four red zone possessions, the Broncos trailed by just seven points with two minutes remaining before the Chiefs pulled away.
The Broncos face a Buccaneers team that extended its winning streak to three games following a 30-21 home victory against the Packers last week. The Buccaneers, who had a 36:50-to-23:10 time-of-possession advantage against Green Bay, scored the game's final 10 points to erase a 21-20 fourth-quarter deficit.
Tampa Bay, making its first visit to Denver since 1996, is the only team in the NFL that has never played a game at INVESCO Field at Mile High (opened in 2001). The two clubs last met in 2004 with the Broncos earning a 16-13 win at Tampa Bay.
Despite their loss last week, the Broncos have led for 68.7 percent (164:53-of-240:00) of the time this season. They have posted leads of at least 18 points in three of their four games and own the NFL's best first-half scoring differential (+33 / 82-49).
The Broncos' offense has accounted for league highs in points (126) and first downs (100) while averaging an NFL-best 435.5 yards per game. The club's offensive line has surrendered only two sacks in 160 pass plays, marking a 1.3 sack percentage that is the best in the league.
Quarterback Jay Cutler ranks second in the league in passing yards (1,275) and has accounted for two of the top three single-game passing yardage marks in the AFC this year. His top two targets, wide receivers Brandon Marshall (31 rec.) and Eddie Royal (27 rec.), form the most productive pass-catching duo (58 rec.) in the NFL.
The Broncos will celebrate their annual alumni weekend as well as the 10-year anniversary of their Super Bowl XXXIII team around Sunday's game. Approximately 150 former players are scheduled to take part in the festivities, which include the presentation of Gary Zimmerman's Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2008 ring.
BRIAN GRIESE RETURNS
Sunday’s game marks the first time Denver will face Brian Griese, who was its starting quarterback from 1999-2002. The Broncos selected Griese in the third round (91st overall) of the 1998 NFL Draft from the University of Michigan.
Griese ranks third in Broncos history in career passing yards (11,763) and is tied for third in career passing touchdowns (71). He was named to the Pro Bowl following the 2000 season.
Below is a look at Griese’s career with the Broncos:
BRIAN GRIESE AS A BRONCO, YEAR-BY-YEAR
Year GP/GS Att. Comp. Pct. Yds TD INT Rtg.
1998 1/0 3 1 33.3 2 0 1 2.8
1999 14/13 452 261 57.7 3,032 14 14 75.6
2000 10/10 336 216 64.3 2,688 19 4 102.9
2001 15/15 451 275 61.0 2,827 23 19 78.5
2002 13/13 436 291 66.7 3,214 15 15 85.6
Total 53/51 1,661 1,037 62.4 11,701 71 52 84.7
PREVIOUS 5 MEETINGS
DENVER 16, at TAMPA BAY 13 (Oct. 3, 2004)
The Broncos earn a hard-fought 16-13 road victory over Tampa Bay in safety John Lynch's return to Raymond James Stadium...Quarterback Jake Plummer completes 13-of-30 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown while the Broncos combines for 111 rushing yards... Rookie linebacker D.J. Williams aids the solid defensive effort, leading the team with seven tackles.
at TAMPA BAY 13, DENVER 10 (Sept. 26, 1999)
The Broncos fall 13-10 to Tampa Bay at Raymond James Stadium... Tight end Shannon Sharpe leads all Denver receivers with five catches for 39 yards to become the all-time leading receiver in Broncos' history, passing Lionel Taylor in receptions (543) and receiving yards (6,872) with a total of five catches for 39 yards for the day... Denver posts seven sacks in the contest including a career-high three for Trevor Pryce, but a pair by Neil Smith are most significant in an historical sense... Smith's first, which came just before halftime, was the 100th of his NFL career,
making him just the 17th player in NFL history to record 100.
at DENVER 27, TAMPA BAY 23 (Sept. 15, 1996)
Denver uses a 3-yard touchdown by running back Terrell Davis with 3:32 remaining to win 27-23 over Tampa Bay at Mile High Stadium... Davis records 137 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries (6.2 avg.) while wide receiver Anthony Miller posts seven catches for 60 yards and a touchdown to pace the Broncos' receivers... Defensive end Alfred Williams sacks quarterback Trent Dilfer, forcing and recovering a fumble at the Buccaneers' 37-yard line with 1:37 remaining... The Broncos post one first down before taking a knee to run off the remaining time.
TAMPA BAY 17, at DENVER 10 (Dec. 26, 1993)
Tampa Bay gets a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Craig Erickson and a 48-yard field goal to defeat Denver 17-10 at Mile High Stadium... Quarterback John Elway completes 26-of-41 passes for 225 yards without an interception, including six connections with tight end Shannon Sharpe for 65 yards... Running back Reggie Rivers rushes four times for 27 yards and scores Denver's lone rushing touchdown... The Broncos' last drive of the game stalls at the Buccaneers' 29-yard line with a fourth down incompletion with 1:23 remaining.
DENVER 24, at TAMPA BAY 7 (Nov. 15, 1981)
Denver uses one rushing and one receiving touchdown by fullback Larry Canada to defeat Tampa Bay 24-7 at Tampa Stadium...The Broncos block Tampa Bay's second punt of the afternoon to set up their first touchdown, an 11-yard pass from Craig Morton to tight end Riley Odoms... Morton, connects on 10-of-14 passes for 73 yards and one touchdown before he was replaced by quarterback Steve DeBerg midway through the second quarter...DeBerg completes 10-of-15 passes for 70 yards with one touchdown...Denver defensive back Mike Harden registers a pair of