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One Step Closer

Posted Dec 2, 2012

The 2012 AFC West champs believe they are only getting started.

DENVER -- Winning the division is an important accomplishment. It was a goal for the Broncos at the start of the season - but not the goal.

"It's just a starting point, really," Head Coach John Fox said after the team clinched the AFC West on Sunday.

The team will enjoy the moment. Denver hasn't won back-to-back division titles since 1987. But there is a unanimous sentiment in the Broncos locker room that locking up the division in Week 13 to clinch a playoff berth is only a taste of what the team can accomplish.

"We won our division," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "That's not our biggest goal. It's just one thing out of the way. We don't have to worry about that."

The team has won seven straight games and is now guaranteed at least one home playoff game. At 9-3, it finds itself in a three-way tie for the No. 2 seed in the AFC, which earns a first-round bye.

None of it seems relevant to the newly crowned AFC West champions. They aren't talking or thinking like champions, because in their eyes, they aren't yet.

"It's not like we've done anything, really," Bailey said. "We've got to put that behind us and get ready for the Raiders this week."

To sit back, relax and be satisfied with what the team has done through 13 weeks of the season would be "the mindset of a mediocre team," according to linebacker Von Miller.

"We're going to keep taking it one day at a time, and we'll see," he said.

While their focus remains on the opponent that lies ahead, players and coaches will enjoy the achievement for a short time. Defensive end Elvis Dumervil called it a "special" feeling to be a part of back-to-back division championships, and a nod to the caliber of players and coaches that make up the team.

Fox said he will enjoy it for "at least a few minutes tonight."

The head coach became the second in NFL history to inherit a last-place team and lead it to consecutive division crowns in his first two years.

"I really don't have much to say to that," Fox said. "I've been blessed, there's no doubt. This is a great city, great team, and I'm proud to be here."

Team captains Dumervil and Bailey each called it a "step."

"There's more," Dumervil said.

Four more games to get themselves in a better position for the next step.

"We know we're in the playoffs," Bailey said. "Now we just keep fighting and try to get a better spot."