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The NFL
Peter King
November 24, 2003
Kicking into GearWith Jake Plummer back under center, Denver beg its playoff push with an easy win over San Diego
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November 24, 2003

The Nfl

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Simply put, the Broncos can't afford to lose their passer.

Doug Flutie's Future
QB Wants to Play Two Years

Although his brother Darren wants him to go back to the Canadian Football League to finish his career, Doug Flutie, a six-time winner of the CFL's Most Outstanding Player award, said on Sunday he wants to stay in the NFL. "I see myself playing two more years in San Diego, at least until my daughter [Alexa] graduates from high school," Flutie, 41, said after his second start of the year, a game in which he completed 9 of 25 passes for 70 yards against Denver. "Age isn't a factor. My athleticism is better than a lot of the guys I'm playing with."

On Nov. 9 he replaced the ineffective Drew Brees as starter and led San Diego to a 42-28 win over the Vikings. Chargers general manager A.J. Smith says he wants Flutie back in 2004. But if the debacle that is San Diego's 2-8 season continues, who knows if Smith or coach Marty Schottenheimer will return? It's more likely that Smith, who inherited the job after John Butler died of lymphoma last spring, will get one more year to turn it around.

Dispatches
Warner Stands Behind Bulger

Rams coach Mike Martz thought hard about pulling Marc Bulger during Sunday's game against the Bears, going so far as to ask Kurt Warner if he was ready to play. "I don't think anyone can appreciate the impact Kurt has when he's helping Marc from the sideline," Martz said after Bulger had led St Louis to a 23-21 comeback win. "Kurt has been great and completely unselfish. Kurt said he was ready to play, but he said we should stick with Marc."...

The biggest percentage increase in penalties from 2002 to this season is in offensive pass interference: 53 accepted calls through 10 weeks this year compared to 29 with the same point last season. "We've been working with officials to give the defensive player an equal chance to get a ball that's up for grabs," says Mike Pereira, the league's director of officiating....

In the eyes of NFL scouts, Ben Roethlisberger of Miami ( Ohio)—a junior likely to declare for the 2004 draft—might be a hotter quarterback prospect than Mississippi senior Eli Manning. Roethlisberger, a 6'5" fireballer, impressed scouts when he completed 18 of 29 attempts in 30-mph wind during the Red-Hawks' 45-6 rout of Marshall on Nov. 12. For the year his completion percentage is 68.1....

Two days before the Bucs' game with the Packers, coach Jon Gruden brought in fiery Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella to rouse the troops. But the Bucs played more like the Devil Rays, allowing the Pack to drive 98 yards for the winning score in a 20-13 victory.

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