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Finishing Strong

Posted Dec 29, 2010

The Broncos stressed the benefits of closing the season with two consecutive wins, a goal entering Sunday's matchup against the San Diego Chargers.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Don't tell the Broncos this Sunday's matchup with the San Diego Chargers is a meaningless game.

Both teams' playoff hopes have been extinguished, but with the offseason fast approaching, the Broncos have every intention of closing the year on a good note.

"I think it can definitely leave a better taste in your mouth -- that is for sure," said Tim Tebow, who is set to make his third NFL start on Sunday. "To have back-to-back wins -- and both at home, as well -- would be great for us, just as far as our momentum and trying to carry that into the weight room and our training in the offseason. Also, I think it would be a great thing for the fans too - to show them that we were able to bounce back a little bit at the end and try to finish the season on a good note and try to get ready to hopefully have a good season next year."

The idea of carrying momentum into the offseason was echoed by the team's newest Pro Bowler, Brandon Lloyd.

The league leader in receiving yards said wins at the end of a season often lead to wins at the start of the next.

"It is a confidence thing," he said. "The last time we stepped out on the field we won. The last two times we stepped out on the field we won. ... It is all about having confidence going into the offseason and having a good feeling about the guys that were out there on the field."

While winning two consecutive games for the first time all season to close the year would do wonders for the locker room, Lloyd said that winning the last game of the season against a division opponent would make it all the more meaningful.

But it won't be an easy task. When the two teams met at Qualcomm Stadium in Week 11, San Diego came away with a 35-14 victory just one week after the Broncos had taken down the soon-to-be AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs, 49-29.

The Chargers enter the contest with the No. 1 defense in the league, and the No. 2 offense to complement it.

The offensive weapons that they bring in here - certainly with the quarterback Philip Rivers, they have three talented tailbacks, the tight end is an excellent player and then at the wideout spot they have guys that can run around," Interim Head Coach Eric Studesville said. "So, offensively they have weapons all over the field and the defense is the No. 1 defense in the NFL and they are playing that way. They are leading in sacks (and) they are leading in rushing yards given up. This is an excellent football team, so we have to put all our work and effort into preparing for this team in a similar fashion to what we did against Houston to give ourselves the best chance and come out with a great game."

Studesville said the team is focused on finishing strong, and it's going to take everyone in the building -- and all "the fans at INVESCO, who really helped us through the Houston game."

Mario Haggan said he wants to end the season on a positive note and he has no doubt that the entire locker room feels there's plenty to play for.

"A lot of guys are still auditioning for jobs, including myself," he said. "A lot of coaches are still coaching for jobs. Everything is at stake, no matter how you look at it. People are always looking at how you finish and that is very important to this organization."

On the heels of a comeback victory, Kevin Vickerson said the team is playing with a little extra confidence, and the Broncos plan to give everything they've got for 60 minutes on Sunday.

"We just have to seize the moment for a minute, that is all I can say," Vickerson said. "Just come out and play hard."

INJURY REPORT

Ten Broncos are listed on the final injury report of the season. Champ Bailey (ankle) and Knowshon Morneo (ribs) did not practice on Wednesday. David Bruton (ribs), Brian Dawkins (knee), Darcel McBath (quadricep) and Kyle Orton (ribs) had limited participation in the session, and Eric Decker (ankle), Eddie Royal (groin), Tim Tebow (ankle) and Demaryius Thomas (ankle) practiced fully.

For the Chargers, LB Antwan Applewhite (ankle), LB Stephen Cooper (knee), LB Larry English (foot), TE Antonio Gates (toe/foot), FB Jacob Hester (knee), G Scott Mruczkowski (ankle) and RB Mike Tolbert (neck/shoulder) did not practice Wenesday. WR Patrick Crayton (wrist), WR Malcom Floyd (hamstring) and LB Brandon Siler (ribs) practiced with limited participation.