SYDNEY, Australia -- Denver quarterback Chris Miller took the wrong option and then he was in orbit, sent flying by giant San Diego defensive end Dwight Keith.
It was a crucial moment for Miller, remarkably playing his first game since his football career was sent into a tailspin with a series of concussions in the 1995 season.
"I don't need to be taking those type of hits but it was pretty nice to take the hit and get back up and have my senses about me," Miller said.
The Broncos third-stringer, on the field after stints by starter Bubby Brister and youngster Brian Griese, dusted himself off and led the team out from deep in its territory. He got Denver into field goal range and, on the final play of the game, Jason Elam kicked the 35-yard field goal that gave the Broncos a 20-17 win in Sunday's American Bowl exhibition at Sydney's Olympic Stadium.
There were doctors who told Miller he should never return after he suffered multiple serious concussions in 14 months while with the St. Louis Rams.
For a team bidding for an unprecedented third straight Super Bowl championship and faced with the loss of retired John Elway, Miller's comeback is intriguing.
He played 95 NFL games in seven seasons with Atlanta Falcons and two with the Rams. Then Miller's world caved in. He thought he might never play the game again.
"I had a couple of people who raised their eyebrows when they heard I was going to go back but I figured I had to because of the opportunity to play for the two-time defending world champs, and I wanted my kids to see me play football," said Miller, who celebrates his 34th birthday today.
"I went to see the doctors and took the most extensive, thorough examination you can for your head and it was deemed I was healthy. But sure, maybe I'm a little more high risk than the average guy."
Miller completed 11 of 13 passes for 136 yards.
He said he enjoyed playing with his kids, Dillon and Jessie, the past three years but missed the challenge of football.
"I was being bored, man. I was playing basketball, playing golf and I still felt real athletic and I couldn't really find anything to fill that athletic desire," Miller said.
"That wasn't boring at all today, it was a lot of fun. I didn't do it very picturesque. I made a bad mistake by stepping out of the pocket when I probably could have stepped up and took the sack ... but I had a great time today."
Miller is now biding his time behind Brister and Griese -- but waiting is something he should be great at by now.
"I've got two talented players in front of me," Miller said. "Bubby Brister and Brian Griese are very good quarterbacks, and my main goal is just to compete. Bubby'll do a great job, I hope he stays healthy and takes us back to the Super Bowl. But if not Brian'll be ready and I'll be ready."
Miller's game-winning drive showed the contrast between the teams.
Jim Harbaugh made a great start to his career at San Diego, taking the Chargers on a 13-play touchdown drive. No. 2 Erik Kramer also pleased coach Mike Riley, but Miller easily won the battle of the third strings over Craig Whelihan.