ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Sometimes, the what-ifs are the hardest part.
"There are about 15 plays out there, big plays, that were throughout the game," safety
But the Broncos can't have mistakes from last Saturday's loss to the Baltimore Ravens back. The 38-35 loss in the second overtime period has to stick with the team for a full offseason, while the Ravens move on to take on the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.
"That’s playoff football -- it’s do-or-die," linebacker
As they cleaned out their lockers, players couldn't help but think about the loss and what they could've done differently.
"It’s already playing through my mind enough," Stokley said.
Regardless, the Broncos know they didn't play as well as they could've. Tight end
But Decker said that no matter how hard it is to accept the loss and move forward, that's what the team has to do.
“The ‘should have, could have, would haves,’ they come out," Decker said. "You think, ‘If I had just made one more play,' blah, blah, blah, so on and so forth, but you can’t do that now. You’ve got to learn from it."
That's what the Broncos plan to do this offseason.
In his season-ending press conference, Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway said the team can't become "defensive" about the loss. Instead, the players and coaches have to use it so that it doesn't get repeated.
"If we really dissect it and really look at what happened, not only what happened in the game but also learn from what we did in practice with the bye, we’ll look at everything and learn from it," Elway said. "Hopefully, we’re back in this situation again and we will have looked at it the right way and learned from the situation.”
Elway went on to say he expects the team to use the loss as a "battle cry" for next season.
That mentality was echoed in the locker room.
"As men, as professionals, what you do -- it hurts like hell right now, can’t even describe it," Brooking said. "But there’s a lot of young players in this locker room that need to use this as motivation, as a spark to have that fire burning inside of them this offseason and come back stronger."