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A Fresh Start

Posted Jan 1, 2012

The Broncos closed the season with three straight losses, but the team knows it has an opportunity to right the ship and make some noise now that the postseason has arrived.


DENVER -- From 1-4 to 8-5 to 8-8.

The Broncos have experienced as many highs and lows as any team during the 2011 season.

But their season isn't over yet. And the only numbers that matter right now are 0-0.

"We're in the tournament," Mario Haggan said. "That's the opportunity we asked for when we came to camp. We got it. Now it's a matter of us being a team and advancing in it."

Shortly after their 7-3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Broncos found out that the Oakland Raiders had fallen to the San Diego Chargers.

That gave Denver the AFC West crown and locked up the fourth seed in the AFC playoffs.

The Broncos enter the postseason losers of three straight, but they also enter with a division title to their name.

"When you go back in the record book, it’ll say AFC West champs -- we're proud of that," Elvis Dumervil said. "We did some good things this year. … Obviously to get to where we want to get to, we have a lot of work to do.”

As Dumervil alluded, the Broncos know they have to perform better than they have in their previous three losses if they want to make noise in the playoffs.

“I’m in there in the locker room every day, I’m on that field every day -- I know what we’re capable of," Champ Bailey said. "We have to find a way to get better. The good thing is that we’re in it and we have a chance.”

Now, the team's regular-season record no longer matters. The same could be said for the 15-1 Green Bay Packers. The postseason brings a fresh start.

“Everybody's on an even plane: 0-0,” David Bruton said. “Everybody's got a chance. In the playoffs, anything can happen.”

“We’ve got to take advantage of it," Eric Decker said. "Obviously we had a run there for a while, six games, seven out of eight, and it’s a credit to everyone on this team. Now that we did get I guess a so-called gift, if you want to call it that, to get in the tournament, we’ve got to make the most of it."

On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers -- the No. 5 seed -- come to Sports Authority Field at Mile High for a Wild Card Weekend matchup.

Pittsburgh enters the matchup on a two-game win streak, while the Broncos have lost three straight, leading some to say Denver "backed in" to the postseason.

“It doesn’t matter, really," Bailey said of that sentiment. "I think what we need to understand is why we’re backing in and what we need to do to make sure that we don’t lose in the first round.”

Willis McGahee, the only offensive starter with playoff experience, said there's only one way to approach the postseason.

"You've got to go out there and leave it all out there on the field," he said. "You don't want to be one of those guys saying, 'I wish I would've done this, then we would be in a different situation.' You've got to go out there and play."

The veteran running back said the team needs to work together to get back to its winning ways, and he has no doubt the club has the ability to do just that.

It was an opinion echoed throughout the locker room.

"We believe in each other, and we believe that we can get it done," Tim Tebow said.

So after 17 hard-fought weeks that resulted in a division championship and the team's first playoff berth since 2005, the Broncos are dead-set on leaving their mark on a tournament in which "anything can happen."

"We've got a team coming in next week and a huge opportunity for this organization, for this city," Haggan said, "and we're going to go at it head first and try to make it happen."

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