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The Morning After: Week 5

Posted Oct 10, 2011

The Broncos aren't happy with their record entering the bye, Willis McGahee had a big game, Robert Ayers and Cassius Vaughn made key plays and the defense held strong in the red zone.

DENVER -- After Sunday's loss, no one in the locker room was happy.

The team's second-half comeback attempt, though thrilling, fell short, and left the Broncos with a 1-4 record entering the bye.

“You’ve got to stay positive," Elvis Dumervil said. "It’s a long season still. I know things aren’t looking the best -- nobody wants to start 1-4 -- but we still have a chance, and we’re not going to quit for sure. You take a couple days off, get your mind right, and get back ready to work .”

There were mixed feelings in the locker room about facing the bye week in Week 6.

On one hand, the players can rest and recharge. But the club is also anxious to get back on the field and get back in the win column.

"You never want to wait. You want opportunities," Eric Decker said. "But at the same time, we know we need to rest up a little bit, get guys back, have some depth -- because that's one thing we lack at with some positions -- and really clean up and correct what we need to get better at. That's going to be good next week."

Knowshon Moreno said if the players continues to play for each other, they can get back in the win column and make the season a success.

Robert Ayers echoed that sentiment.

"This team is 1-4, but 12-4 doesn’t sound too bad to me," Ayers said.

McGAHEE ON A MISSION

Willis McGahee continued his hot streak to start the season, finishing with 125 yards on 16 carries against the Chargers.

His 7.8 yards per carry marked the second-highest average of his career when he had at least 10 carries in a game.

“Willis has stepped in and done a terrific job," Head Coach John Fox said. "And with that goes our offensive line, our blocking element, our fullback, the tight ends -- we’re getting better in that area. We’ve not arrived yet by any stretch at 1-4, but we’re getting closer.”

Sunday was McGahee's second consecutive 100-yard rushing game, the first time he has put together back-to-back 100-yard games since 2004.

It was McGahee's third 100-yard rushing game of the season, and he became the first Bronco to rack up three 100-yard rushing games in a season since Travis Henry did so in 2007.

The veteran running back is now tied for fifth among active backs -- alongside Minnesota's Adrian Peterson and San Francisco's Frank Gore -- with 26 100-yard games.

“It is what it is," McGahee said after the game. "It doesn’t mean anything because we didn’t win. It’s good that we’re establishing the run game, but we have to put everything together and just get a W.”

TAKEAWAYS KEEP COMING

One week after snaring two interceptions against the Green Bay Packers, the Broncos kept the takeaways going in Week 5.

Cassius Vaughn started things off with a bang, intercepting a Philip Rivers pass and returning it 55 yards for a touchdown to give Denver its first lead of the day, 7-3.

“It was a great play, but it was more the rush and the secondary – we all came together and Coach (Defensive Coordinator Dennis) Allen made a great call," Vaughn said. "I was just in a position to make the play, and (finding the end zone) was easy.”

The defense nearly grabbed a Ryan Mathews fumble late in the third quarter, but a San Diego challenge was successful as the referees ruled the running back was down before the ball came out.

Ayers made amends for that in the fourth quarter when the team needed a play. Leading 26-18, the Chargers had a first down at their own 31-yard line. Rivers dropped back and Ayers came streaking into the backfield, swiping at the quarterback's hand to force a fumble, which the Broncos recovered.

“I saw him step up and tried to spin back and tried to swing at the ball, because I thought he was going to run, but he didn’t and tried to throw it," Ayers said. "I just swung at the ball.”

The call was initially an incomplete pass, but Fox threw the red challenge flag, and the ruling was overturned.

“I thought it was (a fumble) and I was trying to pick it up and go run," Ayers said. "When I saw the replay, I knew it was (a fumble).”

Vaughn said that while the defense can build off the big plays, they're to be taken with a grain of salt thanks to Sunday's result.

"It would have been way sweeter if we’d won," Vaughn said. "None of it matters if we lose."

FORCING FIELD GOALS

The Chargers found the red zone five times on Sunday, but once they got there, they only found the end zone once.

The other four times, San Diego had to settle for Nick Novak field goals.

“I’m proud of us for getting down there when it was crunch time," Champ Bailey said. "When you get in the red zone, you’ve got to find a way to make them kick field goals, and that’s what we did.”

Of course, San Diego still came away with the win, so the defense wasn't nearly satisfied with its performance.

"The field goals add up after a while," Rahim Moore said. "We did an okay job defensively. But you know what, we didn't get the win. So it doesn't matter how many field goals they kick or how many three-and-outs we get, we didn't get the win and that's all that matters -- getting the 'W'."