Originally created 08/30/98

Tennessee gets first victory in Nashville



NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Oilers can start the regular season confident that they have won at least once in their new hometown.

Al Del Greco kicked three field goals, including a 51-yarder, as the Oilers held off the Denver Broncos 16-13 on Saturday for their first victory in Music City.

Both Denver (3-1) and Tennessee (3-1) limited their starters to the first half, with John Elway playing only one series and Steve McNair two. Each led their teams to touchdowns on their opening drives.

Their backups matched each other in the second quarter, leading to field goals for each team, but the Oilers didn't see what they had wanted out of James Ritchey in the second half.

Ritchey thought he had won the No. 3 job when the Oilers released Ron Powlus on Tuesday, only to see them pick up Steve Matthews off waivers from Jacksonville.

Against Denver, Ritchey had his chances as he started off inside the Denver 32 twice thanks to a fumble and an interception.

He dropped the center exchange twice and fumbled while trying to score. The Oilers wound up losing a total of eight yards and settled for Del Greco's field goals of 51 and 26 yards and a 16-10 lead.

Ritchey was replaced by Matthews with 8:20 left.

Matthews didn't get much of a chance, taking over with the ball at the Tennessee 1 following Derek Loville's fumble. But rookie Kevin Dyson dropped a pass at the 35 that would have given them breathing room and a first down.

Denver's Brian Griese played the entire second half and managed to help produce only a 33-yard field goal by Tom Elan, his second.

Griese had a chance to keep the Broncos undefeated in the preseason when they got the ball back with 6:38 left. They stalled at midfield, and Dainon Sidney tipped away Griese's pass to Marcus Nash with 36 seconds left.

The Oilers proved they could score a touchdown in the first quarter. The Oilers had scored on eight of 11 possessions with McNair, but had managed only field goals in the opening quarter.

With Eddie George carrying six times for 19 yards, the Oilers moved 77 yards in 10 plays. McNair capped the drive with a 9-yard touchdown toss to George in the left corner of the end zone. McNair was 4-of-5 for 42 yards.

The Broncos' starters also looked ready to start the season with Terrell Davis picking up 53 yards on three carries. Elway missed his first pass but connected with Shannon Sharpe on a 26-yard touchdown on his second to tied the score at 7-7.