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Griese playing the Elway way

QB teams with WR Smith to lead Denver

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TEMPE, Ariz. — For the second time in as many games, Brian Griese put on a precision passing performance reminiscent of John Elway at his best.

Griese tied a Broncos record with 17 consecutive completions — three of them for touchdowns — as the Denver Broncos overcame a slow start to beat the Arizona Cardinals 38-17 Sunday night.

His favorite target, of course, was Rod Smith, who flourished despite the absence of fellow wideout Ed McCaffrey.

Smith broke the team record for receptions with 14 for 162 yards, including a sensational 10-yard catch for one touchdown and a 34-yarder for another.

"We found a formation where they weren't going to play Rod with a corner," Griese said, "and it was kind of like taking candy from a baby."

Griese finished 22-of-31 for 242 yards and, for the second consecutive game, didn't throw an interception.

His completion string began at the start of Denver's go-ahead touchdown drive in the final 1:36 of the first half and didn't end until there were 8 1/2 minutes left in the game.

"If you look at the stats after Game 2, it is going to be hard to say that he can play much better," Denver coach Mike Shanahan said.

Mike Anderson, starting in place of injured Terrell Davis, managed just 58 yards in 19 carries. But Olandis Gary gained 90 yards on 14 attempts, including a tackle-busting 9-yard touchdown run.

With Davis out for up to six weeks after arthroscopic knee surgery and McCaffrey gone for the season with a broken leg, Denver's offense was out of sync at first.

Meanwhile, the energized young Cardinals scored 10 points on their first two possessions.

After Jason Elam kicked field goals of 49, 31 and 35 yards to cut it to 10-9, Griese executed a two-minute drill that must have made Elway proud. He completed all six attempts as the Broncos went 69 yards in 1:09.

Smith's 10-yard reception in the back of the end zone put Denver ahead 17-10 with 32 seconds left in the half. Griese threw to Dwayne Carswell for the 2-point conversion.

Arizona fumbled the ball away twice and had one interception, resulting in 13 points for the Broncos.

"You can't get more elementary than that," Cardinals coach Dave McGinnis said. "That's something you shouldn't even have to talk about. It can't be tolerated — giving them the football."

On the next play after a Card fumble, Griese threw a touchdown pass to a wide-open Smith to give Denver a 24-10 lead with 11:51 remaining in the third.