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The Denver Broncos would probably like to find an easier way to win games.
After opening with two straight victories on the last play of the game, the Broncos hope it won’t come to that Sunday when they host the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Denver looks to start 3-0 for the first time since winning its first four games of the 2003 season after field goals by Jason Elam ended its first two contests.
His 23-yard field goal in overtime gave the Broncos a 23-20 home win over Oakland last Sunday, and his 42-yarder as time expired resulted in a 15-14 win at Buffalo in the Sept. 9 season opener.
It was the first time since Green Bay in 2004 a team has won consecutive games on the final play.
“I’ll be happy when we start putting some teams away early,? said Elam, who has missed three of his other seven field-goal attempts this season.
The Broncos? last four games have each been decided by three points or less, including a 26-23 overtime loss to San Francisco in the 2006 regular-season finale that kept them out of the playoffs.
Jacksonville (1-1) also has played a pair of close games this season, rebounding from a 13-10 loss to Tennessee with a 13-7 win over Atlanta last Sunday.
While the Jaguars have scored only two touchdowns, that?s only one fewer than a Broncos team which has piled up an NFL-high 911 total yards and boasts the league’s leading rusher in Travis Henry (267 yards).
“We’ve got some work to do,? Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said after barely beating a Raiders team which had a league-worst 2-14 record last season.
“It’s nice to look back after you win to go through the mistakes. And it’s a very positive mind-set, compared to losing a game like that and saying, ‘Hey, if you’d have done one of these 10 things, we could have won.’”
Denver could still be in a transition period with seven new starters on offense, but already has seen a solid return on free agent signee Henry.
Henry rushed for 128 yards on 26 carries against the Raiders and will try for his fifth straight 100-yard game dating to last season. Henry, who has yet to score a touchdown, has never rushed for 100 yards in six games against the Jaguars. He had 100 on 31 carries in two games against them last season for Tennessee.
Receiver Javon Walker will look for his third straight 100-yard game after catching eight passes for 101 yards against Oakland.
Denver is the only NFL team with a 200-yard rusher and receiver.
Second-year quarterback Jay Cutler was 23-for-33 for 269 yards last Sunday, and now looks to throw a touchdown pass in his eighth straight game since becoming the starter. Cutler, though, has thrown three interceptions in 2007.
Defensively, the Broncos are trying to adjust to having six new starters, maybe one reason they are allowing an average of 156.0 rushing yards through two games.
The Jaguars averaged 158.8 yards per game on the ground last season.
“Oh, it’s coming,? Jones-Drew said. “We just have to be patient with it.?
Taylor and Jones-Drew combined to rush for 2,087 yards and 18 TDs in 2006, but have been held to 135 yards without a touchdown this year.
“We’re not proficient right now with (the running game),? Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. “It’s coming along. It’s not where it should be yet.?
Getting the ground game going likely would benefit quarterback David Garrard, who is off to a solid start and went 17-of-25 for 272 yards with a touchdown against Atlanta.
Garrard makes his first appearance against Denver hoping his offensive line can provide better protection. He’s been sacked seven times, tied for most in the AFC.
Jacksonville’s defense had seven sacks last week while holding the Falcons to 82 rushing yards. That came after the Jaguars allowed a franchise-record 282 rushing yards against Tennessee.
Denver outgained Jacksonville 188-12 on the ground in the most recent meeting to win 20-7 on Oct. 2, 2005. The Jaguars? only win in four all-time trips to Denver was a 30-27 upset on Jan. 4, 1997 that sent them to the AFC championship game in just their second year of existence.