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Another Bronco injury on Monday night

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DENVER — Another Monday night game, another critical injury for the Denver Broncos.

Wide receiver Ed McCaffrey broke both bones in his lower left leg when he was hit by New York Giants safety Shaun Williams after a 19-yard reception in the third quarter, casting a pall over the Broncos' 31-20 victory Monday night.

"It's a bittersweet feeling for me because we won the game but lost a great football player," said quarterback Brian Griese, who threw three touchdown passes.

"I'd rather lose this game and have Eddie for the next 15 games than to not have him for the rest of the season," wide receiver Rod Smith said. "That's how important he is to this offense. He's always been one of the main pillars in holding this whole thing up."

McCaffrey, who set a club record with 101 receptions in 2000 and whose 16-yard TD catch in the second quarter gave him 44 as a Bronco to equal the team record, was scheduled for surgery late Monday night. Coach Mike Shanahan said rods will be inserted in the broken bones and McCaffrey will be out six months.

It continued a string of casualties for the Broncos in Monday night games.

In their season opener last season against St. Louis, also on Monday night, the Broncos lost two running backs. Olandis Gary was lost for the season with a torn ACL, and Terrell Davis went down with an injury to his left ankle and foot that sidelined him for five games and likely contributed to a stress reaction that shelved him for seven more games.

In a subsequent Monday night game on Nov. 13, Griese separated his throwing shoulder. Although he returned to spark a 27-24 win over Oakland, it effectively ended his season and required off-season surgery.

And now McCaffrey.

"It's a part of life in the NFL," defensive tackle Trevor Pryce said. "It will hurt us, but I don't think it will hurt any more than when we lost T.D. (Davis) or when we lost Brian."

The injury was especially painful to Smith, who caught 100 passes last season. Smith finished Monday night's game with nine catches for 115 yards and a touchdown, but admitted he played with a heavy heart after his friend's injury.

"Just working with a guy that long, it's like a part of me," Smith said. "When he's out of there, a part of me is out of there. From this point on, I dedicate everything to him.

"When I saw him lying there, I knew it wasn't good. I've been with him for eight years, and I cried. It hurt bad. But the fact that he was actually a little bit upbeat as they carted him off, that made me feel better. If anybody can come back from this, he can."