DENVER, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Clinton Portis capped a brilliant rookie season by rushing for 228 yards and two touchdowns Sunday as the Denver Broncos rolled past the Arizona Cardinals, 37-7.
Eliminated from playoff contention before the game, the Broncos (9-7) turned their second-round pick loose on the Cardinals, who may soon be in the market for a new coach.
"It was tough going into the game knowing we were out of the playoffs, but I was pleased with the way our team fought through it," Broncos Coach Mike Shanahan said. "The character our team had showed that even though we weren't going to the playoffs, we played hard and made some plays."
With his big day, Portis tied Miami's Ricky Williams for the best rushing day in the NFL this season. Portis broke Mike Anderson's team rookie rushing record, finishing the campaign with 1,508 yards and 15 touchdowns.
"I really haven't sat down and thought about it, but it worked out pretty well," Portis said of his rookie season. "I didn't play early in the season and in a couple of those games during the season other teams were able to take us away from the run.
"You look back and think that things happen for a reason and what if I would have actually played in those games. I might have been able to make a run for the record in a season."
While Portis looks to have a bright future, things could be much darker for Arizona Coach Dave McGinnis, who has posted just a 12-23 record with the Cardinals. Arizona (5-11) lost nine of its last 10 games following a 4-2 start.
McGinnis declined to discuss the situation.
It also may have been the final game in an Arizona uniform for Jake Plummer, who is an unrestricted free agent. He completed 13 of 27 passes for 132 yards and one touchdown.
Plummer did not hide his feelings for McGinnis.
"I went over and gave coach McGinnis a big hug," Plummer said. "I just poured out for that guy. He's a coach you love to play for. I wish we could have closed the season better for him. He's the best coach I've ever played for, and I wanted to make it a better ending for him.
"There's a scenario that could happen where I'm back and a scenario that I'm not back. Who knows. It might be until late February until something happens. I can sit here and try to ponder, but I really don't know."
Plummer's one-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Kasper with one second remaining in the first half capped a 17-play, 81-yard drive and pulled the Cardinals within 9-7.
Jason Elam accounted for the Broncos' offense in the first half with field goals of 44, 54 and 21 yards. Denver managed only those field goals despite Portis gaining 120 yards on just eight carries.
Portis continued to churn out the yards in the second half, amassing 108 on 16 attempts.
"This is my first 200-yard game, in college most of the time I was out for halftime," Portis said. "So by the time I got to 130 or 140 (yards) I'd be done. I would have actually come out but guys kept pushing me to go back in. They kept coming to me and saying `go for 250,' so I stayed in."
Instead of field goals, the Broncos made sure they reached the end zone in the second half, when they scored touchdowns on their first four possessions.
Beuerlein engineered a 10-play, 92-yard drive later in the third quarter. He found Rod Smith with a 10-yard touchdown 2:11 into the fourth, giving the Broncos a 23-7 lead.
Beuerlein won for the first time in three starts as he completed 16 of 24 passes for 203 yards.
On their next drive, Beuerlein had a 52-yard completion to Ed McCaffrey, setting up Portis' four-yard touchdown run that made it 30-7.
Portis capped the scoring with a 12-yard run with 4:11 to play.