'I could be ready'
Griese reinjures shoulder in first quarter against 49ers
Updated: Saturday December 23, 2000 9:43 PM
Griese, who had missed the past five games with a separated right shoulder, left Saturday's game against San Francisco after being hit hard by defensive tackle Brentson Buckner with 9:07 left in the first quarter.
Griese completed the pass to Ed McCaffrey for a 5-yard gain but landed on his right side as the 305-pound Buckner fell on top of him.
"I took a direct hit on it, and the guy landed on top of me and drove me to the ground," Griese said. "It's sore."
Gus Frerotte replaced Griese, who made a few practice throws on the sideline before slamming the ball to the ground in frustration.
Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan said Griese's shoulder did not pop out, but his status for the playoffs will not be known until late next week.
"I don't think it's a setback," Griese said. "I think I could have gone on and played, but it would have been very painful and I may have had to get a shot to do it and I would have jeopardized playing next week. This game was not as important to me as next game."
Griese returned for one play after Frerotte was shaken up on a sack by Anthony Pleasant with 7:56 left before halftime. Griese handed the ball to KaRon Coleman, who ran 24 yards for his first NFL touchdown.
After Coleman crossed the goal line, Griese held his arms out and his palms up, as if to say: "Nothing to it."
Frerotte returned the following series, and the Broncos went on to an easy 38-9 victory. He could have to carry Denver through the playoffs.
"I'd love to be the starter and play," Frerotte said. "That's what every quarterback dreams about. Everybody wants to play after Christmas. I think we have the makings of a great team here and hopefully being in there, we can go pretty far."
Frerotte went 4-1 while Griese recuperated from his shoulder separation. He also was the starter in Denver's one-point loss to Kansas City in Week 4. Griese did not play that game because of torn cartilage in his shoulder.
Playing their final regular-season game at Mile High Stadium, the Broncos (11-5) kept their AFC West title hopes alive. The Oakland Raiders (11-4) have to lose Sunday for Denver to win the division title.
If the Raiders win, Denver will play a first-round game on the road, likely at Baltimore.
"If I can play, I'm going to play," Griese said. "I could be ready to play next week. I could get hit and get thrown to the ground and not be able to finish the game, but I want to be out there. I want to help the team."