SEATTLE (Ticker) -- The
rode the kid before being helped by a savvy veteran.
rushed for a season-high 136 yards and
came off the bench to pass for two touchdowns as the Broncos pulled away for a 31-9 victory over the
It was pretty much a given that the Broncos would pound Portis at the Seahawks, who have been ravaged by injuries on defense and came into the game ranked last in the NFL against the run.
"I was a bigger part of the game plan," said Portis, who carried 23 times. "I knew from practice that we were going to try an run the ball. We knew they were banged up on `D' and their run defense was suspect. We wanted to run, especially on third down."
The Broncos probably did not expect to have to rely on Beuerlein. But the 16-year veteran was called on late in the third quarter with the Broncos holding a 10-6 lead after starter
went down with a sprained left knee.
Griese left after taking a hit to the knee by rookie defensive end
after completing a pass to
. Bernard was assessed a roughing penalty.
"I heard a pop and hopefully it's just an MCL," Griese said. "I'll get an MRI done tomorrow and we'll know more than. The doctors think it's a second degree sprain."
Beuerlein showed his experience, throwing a one-yard touchdown on fourth down to tight end
on the first play of the fourth quarter, giving Denver a 17-6 lead. He found Smith with a 14-yard TD pass later in the period. Those were his only pass attempts.
"It just goes to show you that one play could change things," said Beuerlein, who had not attempted a pass since the 2000 season after undergoing elbow surgery last season. "Now my whole mentality has to change and I have to get myself prepared to be the starter. I've got to execute at a high level to get this team where it wants to be."
also rushed for a touchdown and cornerback Deltha O'Neal returned an interception for a score in the waning moments for Denver (7-3).
kicked three field goals for the Seahawks (3-7).
Clinging to a four-point lead late in the third quarter, the Broncos watched Griese go down after he completed a 16-yard pass to
to the Seattle 1.
Griese limped to the sideline and was replaced by Beuerlein. Griese finished 17-of-27 for 194 yards and an interception.
Beuerlein was stuffed on consecutive sneaks as was Portis, bringing up fourth down as the third quarter ended.
Beuerlein executed a perfect fake into the line and found Hape, who made a diving catch for a 17-6 advantage.
"That was my first throw since 2000," Beuerlein said. "I'm grateful that Patrick is an incredible athlete. I made it a little tougher than I needed to."
Seattle was able to answer that score, moving 63 yards in 11 plays.
had a 22-yard pass to
to the Denver 22 and found running back
for 10 yards to the 12.
But the drive stalled and Lindell kicked a 29-yard field goal, pulling the Seahawks within 17-9 with 8:57 to play.
With Beuerlein continuing to run the offense, the Broncos answered by going 63 yards in six plays. The drive was aided by an interference penalty on cornerback
to the Seattle 45.
Portis rushed for 31 yards on the drive that Beuerlein capped with a 14-yard TD pass to Smith in the left corner of the end zone, making it 24-9 with 5:20 remaining.
"At the end of the game on third down, he had a great read," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said about his quarterback. "He looked into the flat, made the corner bite up and made a nice throw to Rod. He came in and really played well."
Powered by Portis, the Broncos rolled up 202 of their 401 total yards on the ground.
O'Neal provided the final margin with a 22-yard interception return with 14 seconds remaining.
Hasselbeck, who failed to lead his team to a touchdown, went 22-of-36 for 180 yards, two interceptions and was sacked five times. The ground game also did not help as Alexander was held to 18 yards on 11 attempts.
"We have problems. Not to take anything away from them (Broncos defense), they play hard and they play aggressive but I think the stuff they did is stuff we should handle and we didn't," Alexander said.
"They're good against the run," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "They did today what they do against most teams they've played. We thought our best chance to move the ball was throwing the ball, but we also thought the pass rush would bother us if we couldn't run the ball a little bit."
Coming off a disappointing loss to Oakland, the Broncos held a 201-55 advantage in total yards, but managed only
's 45-yard field goal in the second quarter.
Despite getting outplayed, the Seahawks tied it less than two minutes into the third quarter when Lindell boomed a 52-yard field goal.
The Broncos answered that score, going 61 yards in four plays. Portis had the big play, ripping off a 34-yard run down the left sideline to the Seattle 37.
Anderson capped the drive with a nine-yard run up the middle, giving the Broncos a 10-3 lead.
Lindell converted from 37 yards with six minutes left in the third quarter, pulling the Seahawks within four.