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Win as a Team, Lose as a Team

Posted Dec 24, 2011

All three phases took responsibility for Denver's loss to the Bills in Buffalo.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Broncos used complete team-efforts to win seven games in an eight week stretch and surge to the top of the AFC West standings.

But each phase shared responsibility for a 40-14 loss to Bills Sunday.

“Too many big plays in all three phases,” cornerback Champ Bailey said. “That’s everyone, offense, defense and special teams – we all gave up a touchdown. It’s not acceptable.”

“All three phases today had a letdown,” fullback Spencer Larsen said. “We just need to do better.”

Denver’s special teams have been key in controlling the field position battle for much of the season, but Sunday the punt team gave up an 80-yard touchdown return – the first the Broncos have allowed since 2009.

“With the way our team has grown and become the way we are, it takes (contributions) from everywhere. Everybody has to join in,” punter Britton Colquitt said. “It’s not like some teams where their offense is so good that their defense doesn’t have to do anything. I think our team thrives off of momentum and field position and the kicking game brings that. When we give them something like a punt return for touchdown -- that gives them something where the defense doesn’t even have a chance to stop them.”

The Bills finished with 135 punt return yards on the day and averaged 33.7 yards on three kick returns.

“It’s frustrating because for the most part we’ve played real good all year on special teams,” Colquitt added. “We didn’t uphold our end of the bargain today.”

Offensively, Denver’s scoring output was negated by two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.
The Broncos put together touchdown drives at the start of each half, but they were unable to maintain that production.

Four second-half turnovers limited Denver’s progress on offense and helped fuel the Bills.

“Minus-four in the turnover ratio,” Head Coach John Fox said, “that’s kind of what happens.”

“We just didn’t execute the things we’d practiced and we’d planned,” tight end Daniel Fells added.

The final phase -- Denver’s defense -- played admirably in the red zone, forcing the Bills to attempt six field goals (two of which were missed) and allowing just 19 points total. They were also particularly stout on third downs, allowing just two Buffalo conversions on 12 third-down attempts.

But Bills running back C.J. Spiller racked up 111 yards on the ground and Buffalo consistently broke tackles and hit several big plays through the air to move the ball downfield against the Broncos defense that recorded just one sack and failed to register a takeaway.

“It boiled down to tackling. We missed so many tackles,” Bailey said. “We know if you want to be a good defense, you have to be a good tackling defense in this league.”

Players admitted they were frustrated and embarrassed with their Week 16 performance across the board.

They still firmly believe, however, that each phase is capable of bouncing back from this defeat to play their best football with a playoff spot on the line in the final week of the regular season.

“We are a team that believes in each other,” quarterback Tim Tebow said. “I don’t think this has changed anything.”