Bring on the bye: Broncos ready for a break

Updated: October 27, 2003, 6:41 PM ET
ESPN

DENVER -- Battered and sputtering, the Denver Broncos could use a break to regroup and heal.

Problem is, Denver still has to play the New England Patriots Monday night before getting to its bye week.

"We're very disappointed right now, the way we've play the past couple of weeks," Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe said Monday. "For us to be the team we talked about at the beginning of the season, we need to get it turned around this week."

Sure, Denver is 5-3 and in second place in the AFC West at the midpoint of the season, but it's the way the Broncos got there that's a concern.

Denver opened the season with four straight wins and a balanced offense that kept opponents guessing. A slew of injuries and a suddenly stalled offense has led to three losses the past four games, with the worst of it coming in Sunday's 26-6 loss to Baltimore.

"We just seemed to step down for some reason," linebacker Al Wilson said. "We just haven't been playing our game the last couple of weeks. We know we're a much better team than we've shown the past couple of weeks and hopefully we can bounce back from it."

The injury trend started three weeks ago when quarterback Jake Plummer broke his foot getting off the couch. He's expected to be out at least two more weeks.

The next week it was linebacker Ian Gold, who was lost for the season after tearing a knee ligament against Pittsburgh.

Backup quarterback Steve Beuerlein followed suit last week with a gruesome broken finger against Minnesota that knocked him out for the season.

And those were just the major injuries. Denver entered Sunday's game with 14 players on the injury report, and five starters missed the game.

It only got worse once the game started.

The Broncos lost linebacker John Mobley in the second quarter when he collided with Baltimore's Jamal Lewis and teammate Kelly Herndon. He lay motionless on the field for more than 10 minutes and didn't regain feeling in his hands until he was being carted off the field.

Test results came back negative and Mobley returned to Denver on Monday after spending the night in a hospital, but the Broncos won't know how long he'll be out until after he sees a specialist.

In case that wasn't enough, the Broncos had to shift around their offensive line after starting left tackle Matt Lepsis was ejected for making contact with an official.

"I think the easy way to go about it is to say, 'Hey we had a lot of injuries and we deserved to lose.' That's not the case," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "Once you start thinking in those terms, I think it's a big disappointment in the character of your football team."

The injuries have hurt and a stagnant offense hasn't helped.

After scoring 30 or more points in their first three games, the Broncos failed to score a touchdown for the first time since a 21-3 loss to Baltimore in the 2000 playoffs.

Denver averaged 351 total yards in its first five games, but had 242 yards in the win over Pittsburgh and just 194 against the Ravens.

"We made some mistakes yesterday that we weren't making early in the season," Sharpe said. "And now that we're making those mistakes, it's costing us ball games. Talking about how we're going to correct those mistakes isn't going to get it done. Doing something about it is what's going to turn this season around."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

SPONSORED HEADLINES

MORE NFL HEADLINES